Sylvia Miles, a New Yawk personality who parlayed her inimitably brassy delivery into two Best Supporting Actress nominations — with a combined total of 14 minutes on the screen — has died. She was 94.
Prominent writer Michael Musto reported her passing, just a day after he had announced she was set to play his mother in an indie film.
He wrote on Wednesday:
I have to report the awful news that two-time Oscar winner 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, a New Yorker from birth, began her theatrical career in 1947 and debuted on TV seven years later. In the early '60s, she was Sally Rogers in the first pilot for The Dick Van Dyke Show, a role that would be made famous by Rose Marie. She was the best part of the pilot — by Miles.
Miles achieved immortality as a brash, braying Park Avenue kept woman in Midnight Cowboy (1969), the first and only X-rated movie to win the Best Picture Oscar. In her scenes, she memorably seduced Jon Voight's hapless hustler Joe Buck, getting him to pay her instead of the other way around. Why? Because she was "one helluva gorgeous chick."
In 1972, Miles went nude in the Sunset Boulevard parody Heat, directed by Paul Morrissey. Playing opposite beefcake model Joe Dallesandro, she helped the Warholian flick achieve cult-film status.
She scored a second Oscar nomination for the neo-noir mystery Farewell, My Lovely (1975), which starred Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe.
Other film roles that capitalized on Miles's unique persona include The Last Movie (1971), The Sentinel (1977), Shalimar (1978), The Funhouse (1981), Evil Under the Sun (1982), Critical Condition (1987), Wall Street (1987), Crossing Delancey (1988), Spike of Bensonhurst (1988), She-Devil (1989) and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), the latter of which became her final big-screen role.
On TV, she popped up on Sex and the City (2002).
Miles — said to be willing to "show up to the opening of an envelope" — was a beloved fixture on the NYC party scene, as outrageous as the characters she played.