Actress Sylvia Miles, the poodle-owning hooker in Midnight Cowboy (a role that won her one of two Oscar noms as Best supporting actress has died.
Her longtime friend Geraldine Smith confirmed the news to the Post’s Page Six, saying that Miles had been in declining health and had recently left a nursing home because
“she didn’t want to die there.”
In one of her most notorious roles in a career filled with them, Miles starred as a fading Hollywood movie star in Heat (1972), a satire of Sunset Boulevard from Andy Warhol‘s Factory. She appears naked and shares a steamy love scene with the hunky, much-younger Joe Dallesandro in the movie, directed by Paul Morrissey. She claimed to have made up every line of her dialogue.
She toldPeople in 1976,
Roger Ebert had high praise for Miles in his review of Heat.
“Morrissey has assembled an outrageous cast, given them an impossible situation and then all but dared them to act their way out of it. Incredibly, Sylvia Miles does.”
“I have always had the temperament of an actress, which is just an excuse for volatile behavior.”
Miles did love to go to parties, no doubt, and pretty much every story about her over the years includes the joke that she would attend the opening of an envelope.
“I get invited because I’m fun. I have a good sense of humor. I look good. I’m not bad to have at a party.”
Miles appeared in a pilot for what would become The Dick Van Dyke Show, playing the part of the sassy comedy writer Sally Rogers that went to Rose Marie when the Carl Reiner sitcom was recast and picked up by CBS.
A great chess player, Miles was married three times: to William Miles (1948-50), actor Gerald Price (1952-58) and radio personality Ted Brown (1963-70).
In 1981, Miles starred off-Broadway in the one-woman show It’s Me, Sylvia!, set inside a facsimile of that tiny 19th-floor Central Park South apartment that she famously crammed with photographs, artifacts, clippings and tchotchkes.
Miles toldPeople in 1988
“People disappoint you. Lovers disappoint you. But theatrical memorabilia stays with you, as long as you keep it under clear plastic.”
Sylvia Miles was 94.
(Photo, screen grab; via THR)