Oscar Actors: Miles, Sylvia–Supporting Actress Nominee, Midnight Cowboy, Dies at 94

Actress Sylvia Miles who was Oscar-nominated for Midnight Cowboy and Farewell, My Lovely, died Wednesday at her home in New York. She was reportedly 94, although she gave various accounts of her age.

Miles’ first major role came in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy, alongside Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Despite only appearing on screen for about six minutes, her role as Cass earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

Miles was bitter about her loss. especially after Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture and Best Director (Schlesinger).  “People think I was mad when I didn’t win, but they’re wrong.   It’s not that I mind losing, but losing to Goldie Hawn (“Cactus Flower”). That was a big insult.”

Her second nomination for the same award came in 1975 for Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling’s noir remake “Farewell, My Lovely.”  She played Jessie Halstead Florian in another brief appearance, but Lee Grant earned the award for “Shampoo.”

Miles often appeared on the red carpet in exuberant hats and outfits, and she famously dumped a plate of food onto critic John Simon’s head after a negative review.

She appeared in landmark counterculture films like the Warhol-Paul Morrissey film “Sunset Boulevard” parody “Heat” and Dennis Hopper’s “The Last Movie.”

After beginning her career on stage and in films in the ’40s and ’50s, the New York actress appeared on the pilot episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” as Sally Rogers, the role that later went to Rose Marie for the series.

Miles’ more mainstream roles came in the 1982 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel “Evil Under the Sun” and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” in 1987.  She played a real estate agent named Dolores in the drama starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and reprised the role in 2010’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” one of her final film appearances.

She also played Meryl Streep’s mother in the 1989 comedy “She-Devil.”

Among her other notable roles were as a carnival fortune teller in Tobe Hooper’s “The Funhouse,” as matchmaker Hannah Mandelbaum in “Crossing Delancey” and as a lunch counter lady in “Sex and the City.”