Sylvia Miles, Two-Time Oscar Nominee for ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘Farewell, My Lovely,’ Dies at 94

Actress also appeared in “Wall Street” and “Evil Under the Sun”

Sylvia Miles
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Sylvia Miles, a scene-stealing, two-time Oscar nominee for supporting roles in the Best Picture winner “Midnight Cowboy” and “Farewell, My Lovely,” died on Wednesday. She was 94.

Her friend of 25 years, publicist Mauricio Padilha, confirmed her passing to TheWrap, saying Miles died Wednesday while in an ambulance to the hospital on her way from her Manhattan home due to “complications of age.” Padilha described her as “wonderful” and lived “surrounded by everything she loved.”

Miles made a name for herself in “Midnight Cowboy” as a sharp-tongued New York prostitute who manages to hustle Jon Voight’s character as he’s trying to make his own living as an aspiring prostitute and con man. In the brief scene, only about six minutes of screen time in all, she goes from pleasantries to explosive, sobbing histrionics in seconds.

She managed a second Oscar nomination in 1976 for just a five-and-a-half minute scene and about eight minutes of total screen time alongside Robert Mitchum in the Philip Marlowe detective story “Farewell, My Lovely.”

Among some of her other roles, she played a real estate agent named Dolores in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” and later reprised the role for the film’s sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Miles also starred in the Agatha Christie adaptation, “Evil Under the Sun,” the 1989 comedy “She-Devil” playing Meryl Streep’s mother, and others.

Miles was born in New York City and began a career on stage in 1947 before transitioning to television in the ’50s, getting her start in the pilot episode of what would become “The Dick Van Dyke” show. Later in her career, she became something of a cult figure for her flamboyant dress and outgoing personality at Hollywood social functions, as well as for appearing topless on posters for the 1972 Andy Warhol film (directed under the guise Paul Morrissey) “Heat.”