Sylvia Miles, a quintessentially “New York” personality, cult-movie figure, and double Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, has died. She was 94.
According to a Facebook post by writer Michael Musto, a personal friend, Miles died Wednesday. “I have to report the awful news that… Sylvia Miles has passed. RIP, Sylvia. She was just about to play my mother in an indie film. She had quite the career and was a real New York character. More to follow.”
Miles as Sally Rogers
Born and raised in NYC, Miles began theater work in 1947 and debuted on TV in an episode of the series “The Mask” in 1954. She played Sally Rogers in the pilot for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” a role later made famous by Rose Marie. She made her film debut in 1960’s “Murder, Inc.”
A larger-than-life presence, Miles earned her first Oscar nomination for the boundary-pushing “Midnight Cowboy” (1969), memorably playing a braying Park Avenue mistress who considers herself “one helluva gorgeous chick,” in spite of appearing on-screen for only about six minutes. Her second nomination came for 1975’s “Farewell, My Lovely,” in which she is seen for only eight minutes.
Sensationally, she appeared nude in the Paul Morrissey film “Heat” (1972) with physique model Joe Dallesandro. The film, a broad parody of “Sunset Boulevard,” became a cult classic.
Among her other film roles, she appeared in “The Last Movie” (1971), “The Sentinel” (1977), “Evil Under the Sun” (1982), “Wall Street” (1987), “Crossing Delancey” (1988), “She-Devil” (1989), and her final feature, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010).
Known for being willing to “show up to the opening of an envelope” — a remark attributed to the late ventriloquist Wayland Flowers, to Earl Wilson, and to Miles herself — Miles had been a regular at NYC functions until recently. According to Page Six, she had left a nursing home so as not “to die there.”