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Two-time Academy Award-nominated actress Sylvia Miles, who appeared in ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘Farewell, My Lovely’ dead at 94

2019-06-13

Actress Sylvia Miles, who received two Academy Award nominations, has died at the age of 94. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Sylvia Miles, the Greenwich Village-born actress memorably known for her raspy voice and larger-than-life personality, died Wednesday at the age of 94.

Her friend and publicist Mauricio Padilha claimed the two-time Academy Award nominee died in an ambulance en route to a hospital.

Miles didn’t make her film debut until her mid-30s, securing a bit role in the 1960 gangster thriller “Murder, Inc.,” starring Stuart Whitman and Peter Falk. While she had sporadic TV and film roles in the early 1960s, including “The Defenders” and “Car 54, Where Are You?” she was never a breakout star.

But she did garner critical praise for her role as aging hooker Cass, who in her one scene cons cash from naive hustler Jon Voight in the 1969 drama “Midnight Cowboy.”

She received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for the role but lost to Goldie Hawn in “Cactus Flower.”

As memorable as her cinematic personifications were, she was equally bodacious on the social scene.

“(Miles) shows up at premieres, screenings, receptions, teas and charity cocktail parties,” People magazine said of her in 1976. “What would a Manhattan party be without the ubiquitous Sylvia Miles?”

Padilha confirmed she was equally dauntless on film as she was in public.

“She was pretty much the same person off screen as she was on screen,” recalled Padilha. “She was quite a character.”

Miles snagged her first starring role in the 1972 Andy Warhol-produced film “Heat,” a satire of “Sunset Boulevard.”

For her performance as Mrs. Florian, a frumpy, faded entertainer trading information with Robert Mitchum’s detective Philip Marlowe in 1975's “Farewell, My Lovely," she received her second Oscar nomination. This time, she lost to Lee Grant in “Shampoo.”

One of her most memorable lines in the script is: “When I like a guy, the ceiling’s the limit."

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She also appeared in the 1989 Roseanne Barr comedy “She-Devil,” generating guffaws as the crass mother of genteel, sophisticated romance author Meryl Streep.

Her final feature appearance was in the 2010 drama “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” reprising her role as sharp-tongued real estate agent Dolores.