Sylvia Miles

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Sylvia Miles
Sylvia Miles in 2007.jpg
Miles in 2007
Sylvia Scheinwald

(1924-09-09)September 9, 1924
DiedJune 12, 2019(2019-06-12) (aged 94)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Alma materActors Studio
Years active1947–2019
William Myers
(m. 1948; div. 1950)

Gerald Price
(m. 1952; div. 1958)

(m. 1963; div. 1970)

Sylvia Miles (née Scheinwald;[1][2][3][4][5] September 9, 1924 – June 12, 2019) was an American actress. She was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Farewell, My Lovely (1975).

Miles was a fixture in New York City society, having lived there her entire life. She performed in many Off-broadway shows, including starring in a one-woman musical based on her life, titled It's Me, Sylvia! in 1981. [6]A documentary about her life titled I Was Always Sylvia aired on New York City public television channel WNET as part of The 51st State series. [7][8]

Early life[edit]

Miles was born and raised in Greenwich Village, New York City. She was the second daughter of Belle (née Feldman) and Reuben Scheinwald, a furniture maker.[9][10][11] She was educated at Washington Irving High School and the Actors Studio.[12]


Miles began her career on stage in 1947[13] and on television and film in 1954.[14] In the early 1960s, she played the role of Sally Rogers in the pilot episode of what would become The Dick Van Dyke Show, which was later taken by Rose Marie for the series.[15] She appeared Off-Broadway in “Ruthless!” The Musical (1992) at the Players Theatre, NYC, playing Sylvia St. Croix (originally played by Joel Vig in drag); she was one of the few females to play the role. She appeared on Broadway in two productions, most notably the 1976 revival of The Night of the Iguana.[16] Miles was cast in the film Midnight Cowboy (1969) as an aging Park Avenue kept-woman, who invites Joe Buck (Jon Voight) up to her penthouse apartment for sex—another role in which Miles showed off her voluptuous figure (cf. her appearance in "The Thin White Line," Route 66, S2E11).[17][12] The role earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, although she appeared on-screen for about six minutes.[18][12] She received a second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her slightly larger role (eight minutes) in Farewell, My Lovely (1975).[15]

Miles during the filming of 92 in the Shade, November 1974

Miles had a role in the Indian suspense film Shalimar (1978).[19] She appeared in Evil Under the Sun (1982), the film version of Agatha Christie's novel of the same name, portraying a Broadway producer, one of her more mainstream film roles.[20] She played real-estate agent Dolores in the Oliver Stone film Wall Street (1987), a role she reprised in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).[21]

Wayland Flowers and his puppet Madame first uttered the widely quoted line, "Sylvia Miles and Andy Warhol would attend the opening of an envelope".[12] In 1976, People magazine repeated the joke without citing a source.[9][22] Miles starred in Warhol's film Heat (1972).[23] She was also featured in mainstream films including 92 in the Shade, Critical Condition, The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, Crossing Delancey, and the 1989 comedy She-Devil, in which she played the mother of Meryl Streep's character.[24][25]

In a New York restaurant in 1973, Miles publicly dumped a plate of food onto critic John Simon's head for his negative comments about her in a review of a play she starred in.[26]

In 1975, Miles complained about being typecast as a prostitute in almost all of her then 14 movies and 26 off-Broadway plays to date. "Do I look like a prostitute? What does a hooker look like, anyway? Me?"[27]

In her final years, Miles appeared in a few roles on television such as Sex and the City and One Life to Live, and in the films Go Go Tales and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.[25][12][17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1948, Miles married William Myers, but the couple divorced two years later.[12] From 1952 to 1958, she was married to Gerald Price.[12] From 1963 to 1970, she was married to radio disc jockey Ted Brown.[12] Brown cited Miles' lack of desire to have children as the main cause for their divorce.[11]

Miles died on June 12, 2019 while en route to a hospital in Manhattan at the age of 94.[12] She was in declining health in recent years and was in nursing home care in her final months.[17] During her final years she was suffering from anemia and respiratory issues.[28][10]



Year Title Role Notes
1960 Murder, Inc. Sadie
1961 Parrish Eileen
1963 Violent Midnight Silvia
1964 Pie in the Sky Rose
1969 Midnight Cowboy Cass Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1971 The Last Movie Script Clerk
1971 Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name? Christine
1972 Heat Sally Todd
1975 Farewell, My Lovely Jessie Halstead Florian Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1975 92 in the Shade Bella
1976 The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday Madam 'Mike'
1977 The Sentinel Gerde
1978 Zero to Sixty Flo Ames
1978 Shalimar Countess Rasmussen
1981 The Funhouse Madame Zena
1982 Evil Under the Sun Myra Gardener
1987 Critical Condition Maggie
1987 Sleeping Beauty Red Fairy
1987 Wall Street Dolores the Realtor
1988 Crossing Delancey Hannah Mandelbaum
1988 Spike of Bensonhurst Congresswoman
1989 She-Devil Mrs. Fisher
1995 Denise Calls Up Gail's Aunt Sharon
2000 The Boys Behind the Desk
2002 High Times' Potluck Ma
2003 Rose's Ms. P
2007 Go Go Tales Lilian Murray
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Dolores the Realtor
2019 Japanese Borscht Mary Tess (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Herself 3 episodes
1971-1974 The Mike Douglas Show Herself 5 episodes


  1. ^ "".
  2. ^ "".
  3. ^ "".
  4. ^ "".
  5. ^ "".
  6. ^ theatre review new york times]accessed 10/27/2019
  7. ^ Sylvia Miles playbill bio] accessed 10/28/2019
  8. ^ The 51st State biography] accessed 10/28/2019
  9. ^ a b Judy Kessler. "What Would a Manhattan Party Be Without the Ubiquitous Sylvia Miles?", People Magazine, October 18, 1976, Vol. 6 No. 16
  10. ^ a b "'Midnight Cowboy' Actress Sylvia Miles Dead at 94". TMZ. June 12, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Stark, John (October 10, 1988). "Forget That Trinket in Her Right Hand—Actress Sylvia Miles' Biggest Fan Is Sylvia Miles". People. Archived from the original on December 31, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sylvia Miles, Actress With a Flair for the Flamboyant, Dies at 94". The New York Times. June 12, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  13. ^ Major credits. "".
  14. ^ Filmography. "".
  15. ^ a b New York Times profile of Miles,, April 15, 1981; accessed January 1, 2017.
  16. ^ Sylvia Miles on IBDB
  17. ^ a b c d "Sylvia Miles, Scene-Stealer in 'Midnight Cowboy' and 'Farewell, My Lovely,' Dies at 94". The Hollywood Reporter. June 12, 2019.
  18. ^ Miles' profile,; accessed November 20, 2014.
  19. ^ "INTERVIEW WITH SYLVIA MILES". Roger June 12, 2019.
  20. ^ "'EVIL UNDER SMILE', NEW CHRISTIE". The New York Times. March 5, 1982.
  21. ^ "Sylvia Miles, Oscar-Nominated for 'Midnight Cowboy' and 'Farewell My Lovely,' Dies at 94". Variety. June 12, 2019.
  22. ^ Gaines, Steven (May 20, 2010). "The Envelope Please". Archived from the original on June 26, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  23. ^ "Joe Dallesandro and Sylvia Miles in HEAT". Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "92 in the Shade". Parallax-View. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  25. ^ a b c "List of Sylvia Miles Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  26. ^ NPR website referencing John Simon-Sylvia Miles altercation,; accessed October 8, 2014.
  27. ^ "The Happy Hooker?" Vernon Scott column, retrieved from The Herald Journal (Logan, Utah), 22 August 1975, p. 11
  28. ^ "Sylvia Miles ailing",, May 30, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.

External links[edit]