Sidney Fox

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Sidney Fox
Sidney Fox.jpg
Born
Sidney Leiffer

(1907-12-10)December 10, 1907[1]
DiedNovember 15, 1942(1942-11-15) (aged 34)
Cause of deathoverdose of sleeping pills
Resting placeMount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, New York
Other namesSydney Fox, Sadie Fox, Sidney Fox Beahan
Years active1929–1937
Spouse(s)Charles Beahan (1932–1942; her death)

Sidney Fox (born Sarah Leiffer or Liefer, also cited Sadie Fox; December 10, 1907– November 15, 1942) was an American stage and film actress in the late 1920s and 1930s.[1][2][3] Fox’s Hollywood film debut was in Universal Pictures’ 1931 production Bad Sister, which is notable for also being the first film of legendary actress Bette Davis.[4]

Early life[edit]

United States census records document that Sidney “Liefer” Fox was born in 1907 in Eastern Europe, in “Poland-Galicia”.[3] In 1911 Sidney immigrated with her Jewish parents—Rucha Rose (née Szapiro) and Jacob Liefer—to New York, where by 1920 her mother had remarried. Rose’s second husband was Joseph Fox, who also identified himself in government records as a Yiddish-speaking native of Poland.[3] After her mother’s marriage to Fox, Sidney adopted her step-father’s surname, although the federal census of 1930 shows her younger brother Samuel continued to use his given last name, Liefer, in the Fox household.[3][5] The census also documents that in April that year 22-year-old Sidney was living with her mother and step-father on the 500 block of West 178th Street in Manhattan, along with Samuel and their two step-brothers. Sidney identified herself then professionally as a “Stenographer”, while during any spare time she was busy pursuing roles in stage productions.[3] Additional sources regarding Fox's early life indicate she was employed in an array of other jobs as well, including work as a seamstress, a secretary in a law firm, and as a model or “mannequin” in a shop on Fifth Avenue.[6]

Stage and film careers[edit]

Fox by the late 1920s had begun studying acting with hopes of establishing a stage or film career. She temporarily joined a touring theatrical company around 1928, and within a year she was performing on Broadway.[6] She had a role in It Never Rains in 1929, and the next year she portrayed the character Rhoda Wampas in the comedy Lost Sheep.[7] In May 1930, the theatre critic for the popular New York trade weekly Variety gave Lost Sheep a lukewarm review but complimented Fox’s energetic performance in the play, noting “That little cutie Sidney Fox, who first came out in ‘It Never Rains,’ pleased again with her Rhoda.”[8] Someone else in the audience was also impressed with Fox, Carl Laemmle Jr., then head of production at Universal Studios.[9] Laemmle soon signed her to a multi-year contract with the Hollywood film company.[10]

Lobby card for Bad Sister, 1931

Fox made her film debut in the 1931 Hobart Henley drama Bad Sister, playing opposite Conrad Nagel, Humphrey Bogart, Zasu Pitts, and Bette Davis, who was making her debut as well on the big screen. In 1931 Sidney was also selected by motion picture advertisers as a WAMPAS Baby Star, recognizing her as one of the film industry's most promising new actresses.[11] The next year she starred as Madamoiselle Camille L'Espanaye in the Robert Florey film Murders in the Rue Morgue opposite Bela Lugosi. Then, in 1933, she played opposite operatic bass Feodor Chaliapin in the English-language version of Don Quixote. Many of her subsequent roles were bit parts in B-movies, although she did have a starring role in the 1935 release School for Girls.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

Fox on the cover of the fan magazine Screen Book, September 1932

Sidney Fox’s relationship with studio executive Carl Laemmle Jr., as his mistress, was one of Hollywood's open secrets for several years.[6] In 1932, however, she wed agent Charles Beahan, and they remained married until her death.[12] By 1940, according to that year’s federal census, Charles and Sidney Beahan were residing together in a $125-a-month rented home at 9421 “Charleville Drive” in Beverly Hills, California.[13] Sidney is also listed in that census as having no occupation and “not seeking employment” in 1940, while Charles is documented as still being employed as a “Literary Agent/Stage & Motion Pic[ture]s”.[13] Two years later, on November 15, 1942, Fox died in Hollywood from an overdose of sleeping pills that authorities ruled “an accident”.[6][12][14] Variety announced her passing prior to that ruling in its issue of November 18. In the paper’s brief obituary, Fox’s given age and the date of her death differ from those documented in official government records and on her gravestone in New York:

Sidney Fox, 31, former stage and film actress, was found dead in her bed in her Hollywood home Nov. 14. Cause of death undetermined. Miss Fox was discovered by Carl Laemmle in 1930 while appearing in the Broadway production of ‘Lost Sheep’ at the Selwyn theatre. She achieved quick film success, being first named a Wampas Baby Star, then scoring heavily in ‘Strictly Dishonorable.’ Roles in ‘Bad Sister,’ ‘Mouthpiece’ and ‘Once in a Lifetime’ followed, with a part in the French version of ‘Don Quixote,’ starring Feodor Chaliapin, sandwiched in-between. In 1937 she replaced Katherine Locke on the New York stage in ‘Having a Wonderful Time’ at the Lyceum theatre. Husband, Charles Beahan, an agent, survives.[9]

Charles was reported to be living at 519 North Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills when Sidney died.[12] Following the coroner’s investigation of her death, her body was returned to New York City and interred at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, Queens.[14]

Filmography[edit]

Sidney Fox’s final work of her film career consisted of last-minute retakes she performed in early August 1934 to complete production of the musical comedy Down to Their Last Yacht before its release on August 31, 1934.[15] Another film in which she starred, School for Girls, was actually completed before Down to Their Last Yacht, but that dramatic film was not officially released nationwide in the United States until February 19, 1935.[16] Therefore, Down to Their Last Yacht includes Fox’s final performance on film, but School for Girls is her final film to be released.

Year Title Role
1931 Bad Sister Marianne Madison
Six Cylinder Love Marilyn Sterling
Strictly Dishonorable Isabelle Perry
1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue Mlle. Camille L'Espanaye
Nice Women Beth Girard
The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood Herself
The Mouthpiece Celia Farraday
Once in a Lifetime Susan Walker
Afraid to Talk Peggy Martin
Roi Pausole Diana
1933 Don Quixote Maria, the niece
1934 Midnight Stella Weldon
Down to Their Last Yacht Linda Colt-Stratton
1935 School for Girls Annette Edlridge[16]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sidney Fox Beahan’s age in some records is given as 30 or 31 when she died, including in the registry for “California Death Records” and in her obituaries in 1942. However, her gravestone in New York, which is inscribed in both Hebrew and English, is dedicated to “Our Daughter” and documents her “Age 34 Years” on the day of her death. United States census records confirm that age and also document that Sadie (later Sidney) Liefer Fox was born in 1907 in Eastern Europe, with the 1920 census citing in “Austria”; but in the updated census of 1930 “Austria” is crossed out and the birthplace for Sidney, her father, and mother is specifically cited as “Poland-Galicia”. Those records also confirm that Sadie (Sidney) in 1911 immigrated with her parents to the United States, where they initially resided in either New York City or northern New Jersey. See reference citations under "Early life".
  2. ^ See photograph of Sidney Fox Beahan’s gravestone taken at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, N.Y., by Helaine M. Larina. Find a Grave, Ancestry.com, Lehi, Utah. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e “The Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930”, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce; digital copy of original enumeration page including Sidney “Liefer” Fox’s family, New York City, April 3, 1930. FamilySearch, archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  4. ^ “Bad Sister (1931)”, catalog of the American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  5. ^ The earlier "United States Census of 1920" documents Joseph and Rose Fox living with their children and step-children in Passaic, New Jersey, with 13-year-old Sidney listed as “Sadie” in that federal population schedule.
  6. ^ a b c d e Avrech, Robert J. (November 10, 2011). "Sidney Fox: Lost in Hollywood". seraphicpress.com. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Sidney Fox". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on July 24, 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  8. ^ “Lost Sheep”, review, Variety (New York, N.Y.), May 7, 1930, p. 70, col. 3-4. Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  9. ^ a b “Sidney Fox”, obituary, Variety, November 18, 1942, p. 54, col. 2. Internet Archive. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Universal Signing Youthful Actress". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. June 27, 1930. p. 10. Retrieved July 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ “WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1931 with Ernestine Schumann-Heink”, video of the 1931 WAMPAS Baby Stars; originally posted April 9, 2011, by “Furn738” on YouTube, Alphabet, Inc., Mountain View, California. Sidney Fox is the second young woman introduced in this ceremony. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Sidney Fox Death Findings Reported". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. December 4, 1942. p. 38. Retrieved July 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ a b “Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940”, Beverly Hills City, Los Angeles County, California, April 12, 1940. FamilySearch. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Mank, Gregory William (2005). Women in Horror Films, 1930s. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 978-0786423347.
  15. ^ “Down to Their Last Yacht (1934)”, production and release details, American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  16. ^ a b “School for Girls (1935)”, production and release details, AFI. Retrieved September 28, 2018.

External links[edit]