Sylvia Sidney: “Paid by the Tear”

Sylvia Sidney

Who is the delicate looking girl at left with the brimming eyes and the heart-shaped face, who once described show business as “the world’s roughest gamble”?  In her own way, Sylvia Sidney (1910-1999) rolled the dice against the house and managed to stay in the game for seven decades. Why don’t more people know her?

Well, they do, but contemporary viewers may be familiar with only a small portion of her graceful talent. Sylvia Sidney may be best remembered as the ancient woman who still smokes like a chimney in the afterlife, as she appeared as the brashly amusing ghoulish bureaucrat in Beetle Juice (1988) or in Mars Attacks (1996), as the Slim Whitman-loving granny who saves the world in those imaginatively surreal Tim Burton movies.  With only a few of her movies available to contemporary viewers, her finely drawn portraits of earlier decades may be increasingly unfamiliar. Perhaps a small nod her way will encourage more of us to seek out her memorable gallery of characters from long ago.

I first became aware of Sylvia Sidney as a kid when I encountered her somewhat hapless good girl moll in Mary Burns, Fugitive(1935) on one of those channels that broadcast old movies repeatedly in the ’60s and ’70s. She won my heart playing a plucky, almost fatally naïve hash slinger in a rural diner whose boyfriend (Alan Baxter) turns out to be a very bad apple. Caught up in the media frenzy over her gunsel paramour, Mary Burns soon lands in the pokey, and only becomes liberated from society’s narrow expectations and her poisonous honey when she plugs him. The movie, which is a hybrid of the “woman’s picture” and the socially aware  “I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang” flick, limns the downfall and rise of a person whose unexamined life is turned on its head by chance and by the coldness of the justice system. The gradual assertion of this overwhelmed young woman’s will to survive was more riveting for me because of the petite Sylvia Sidney‘s ability to convey such a highly feminine blend of fear, outrage, and her growing understanding of the thinness of civilization’s veneer.

I loved her steely fragility–her persona was like a thin birch tree being bent by the wind–a perfect embodiment of the Depression era victim and survivor.

Mary Burns, Fugitive (1935) with Sylvia Sidney taking it on the lam!

Subsequent dramas, such as Fury,  Dead End, and You Only Live Once among others, allowed her to explore more of the colors of her valiant, waif-like characters, and allowed her to work with talented and demanding directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler & Fritz Lang, (though  her salty comments about most of them indicate that she was never cowed by their aura).  As Miss Sidney once said, she was always playing “the victimized kid,” who could’ve been paid “by the tear” shed from her limpid baby blues. She was almost always likable and believable, despite the somewhat repetitive casting. The actress did find it a bit wearing, however, commenting later that “I’d be the girl of the gangster … then the sister who was bringing up the gangster, then later, the mother of the gangster. And they always had me ironing somebody’s shirt.”

Born Sophia Kosow in the Bronx, she was the daughter of a Romanian father and a Russian mother, both of whom worked in the garment industry. After her parents divorce when she was 9, her mother married a dentist, Dr. Sigmund Sidney, who legally adopted Sylvia and gave her his surname. A shy manner and a stammer became tools of a young actress rather than social stigmas after the introverted child took elocution and dancing lessons, leading to her enrollment at 15 in the Theatre Guild School. Despite being asked to leave that training ground for serious young thespians because she stayed out late so often, the teenager made her Broadway debut at 16 in a melodrama called Crime, was being courted by the movies by the end of the ’20s, and made her first appearance in a silent movie in Thru Different Eyes (1929), (a film that is presumed lost).

Gary Cooper & Sylvia Sidney in City Streets (1931)

A couple of her early roles on screen at Paramount seemed to set the mold for her film career in that hard-bitten but creative decade of the studio era .  Soon after coming to Paramount, (reportedly as a hoped-for replacement for the increasingly unstable Clara Bow), Sidney was chosen for the part of a racketeer’s daughter opposite Gary Cooper in Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 visually striking City Streets, in which her character went to jail to prevent her racketeer father’s imprisonment.  The poignancy of her gradual realization of the cost of the life that she has been born into increases throughout the film as she goes from a naive girl to a determined woman. A somewhat unpolished acting style on the likable Cooper’s part is compensated for by the palpable rapport between the actor and Sidney. This is particularly memorable couple in those scenes when the camera lingers on Sidney’s fully expressive face and those eyes that are so sad and so merry, brimming with happiness one minute, desire and despair in another. The fact that Mamoulian chooses her moments alone in a cell to introduce the innovative technique of a voice-over to suggest her thoughts is helped immeasurably by the mobility of her exquisitely communicative features.

This critical hit, and King Vidor‘s casting of her as one of the tenants in a Brownstone in his vibrant slice of life drama by Elmer Rice, Street Scene (1931),  was followed by the plum role that had initially lured her to the studio from the stage. Sidney played a part in the early version of An American Tragedy with a balance of restraint and neediness that underlined her character’s poignancy as well as her thoughtlessness. Appearing in a role that would be played much more broadly by Shelley Winters in the remake, Sylvia was seen as the pregnant working girl who meets her fate in an ill-timed trip in a rowboat in Joseph von Sternberg’s adaptation of Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1931), featuring Phillips Holmes in the part later immortalized by Montgomery Clift in the much better known George Stevens’ version.  You can see a sample of this earlier version’s subdued tragic tone in a clip found here.
The die was cast for Sylvia‘s dual career paths in Hollywood for a time. She would shine in stories that highlighted her gallant victimhood and the unraveling of her fragile happiness as she repeatedly became fate’s plaything. In retrospect, the actress commented that “[e]very young actress thinks she’s a tragedienne– the more tragic roles, the more you cry, the more you suffer, the better an actress you are. But, when I got a little older, a little more mature, I wanted to get out of my image of the victimized kid.” It would take time to break through that image, and there were several bumps along the way.
Sylvia Sidney in Dead End (1937) after which she left Hollywood for some time.
One early Sylvia Sidney film that will soon be available on dvd is Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), co-starring Fredric March. An early, half-hearted attempt to show the corrosive effect of alcoholism on the youth who came of age in the jazz age under Prohibition, this movie may be of particular interest to pre-code aficionados. It will be part of the six movie boxed set, Pre-Code Hollywood Collection – Universal Backlot Series due out on April 7, 2009. You can see more about this welcome collection here.
In between the suffering on screen in these early roles, Sidney occasionally received a few breaks from doing hard time at the studio, especially when Paramount sought to take advantage of her lovely, almost Eurasian features, as occurred when she and a very young  Cary Grant were cast in a non-musical version of Madame Butterfly (1932).
Cary Grant & Sylvia Sidney in Madame Butterfly (1932)
While Sylvia Sidney was touching and did her best to play her part with some emotional truth,  Russian-born stage director and Sidney friend Merion Gering sought to breathe life into the movie by weaving some occasional airs from Puccini’s rapturously beautiful opera score and adding a game Charlie Ruggles to the cast. Overall, the movie, which can be glimpsed in this clip, was quite dated for ’30s audiences, especially since it was based on David Belasco’s pathos-ridden, old-fashioned play, and was unredeemed by substantial portions of the opera’s  music. Based on the comments of  most reviewers from the time, dialogue given to Cho-Cho-San (Sylvia Sidney), who  describes her dashing American lover in pidgin English as “the most best nice man in all world,” as well as “Honorable Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, the whole works” really seemed inadvertently funny much of the time.

Interestingly, Sidney would go on to play in several other (now politically incorrect) movies as an exotic type, including another, more sophisticated and overtly alluring Asian woman in the James Cagney vehicle, Blood on the Sun (1945). (The pair of actors were great friends and it is a shame that the chemistry they showed in this wartime drama never had a chance to develop in further movies). One other example of this sideline in her career was in an early Mitchell Leisen-directed movie, Behold My Wife (1935), a glum drama about interracial marriage, which might have been called “The Squaw Man Redux”.

Sylvia Sidney as Princess Stormcloud in Behold My Wife

The actress, whose character has the promising name of  “Tonita Stormcloud”, plays the Native American bride  of Gene Raymond, an actor whose presence in most movies is a trial for me. The central conflict of this story unfolds when he insists on transplanting his Indian beauty in the bosom of his stiff upper crust family back east. Though it’s been many moons since the shadow of this film flitted across my television screen, my primary memories of this melodramatic movie are of the sheepish expression that Sylvia wore throughout the proceedings and the presence in the cast of the luminous Ann Sheridan in a small but memorable part. As Sheridan recalled many years later, the established star Miss Sidney, years before the “Oomph” girl campaign took off at Warners,  tried without success to get her employers at Paramount to note the latent quality of the younger actress.

Another outing directed by Gering and again featuring Grant was considerably more successful when the trio made the frothy Thirty Day Princess (1934). This all too rare comic foray for the actress found Sidney as a Ruritanian princess and lookalike actress (yeah, it’s one of those dual identity movies) has a screwball spin on its now familiar curves. Her vivacity and warmly appealing line readings are very winning, and, frankly, at this  early stage of his career, she runs rings around the still rawly talented Cary Grant as a comic actor.

Her early film career might have taken a nosedive after her romantic involvement with the married producer and executive of Paramount studios,  B.P. Schulberg, (the father of the noted writer Budd Schulberg). In a combination of bad timing, the impact of the Depression on the studio’s finances,  and the rather public notoriety regarding the affair eventually caused the besotted Schulberg to neglect his corporate responsibilities and family, leading to his getting the boot from both his job and his home. It also  contributed to the fact that in 1933 Paramount went into bankruptcy, re-emerging in ’35. It didn’t do Sylvia a lot of good either, even after the two went their separate ways by the mid-30s.  What attracted the gamine beauty to the much older mogul? Perhaps a little desire to get ahead, but more likely his appeal was based on their shared liberal politics, similar backgrounds and his desire (if not his skill) at developing film’s social impact.

Sylvia Sidney off-screen in the '30s (Love that hat!)

Sidney, who throughout her career wisely returned regularly to the stage, playing eventually in hundreds of plays, was still a favorite of many rising directors even after she became a contractee of  producer Walter Wanger through his position at Paramount.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage (1936), based on and update of the Joseph Conrad story, Secret Agent, tells the still sadly relevant story of terrorists living and working within London society while plotting the mass destruction of it. With remarkably intricate detail, the thriller builds a great deal of suspense by focusing on Sylvia Sidney‘s character, who, though married to a soft-spoken movie theater manager, (Oscar Homolka), becomes increasingly suspicious that her guilt ridden husband is not what he appears to be.  Director Hitchcock, an admirer of the expressive actress and her child-like demeanor, had sought out Sidney‘s services.

Sylvia Sidney in Sabotage (1936)

Unfortunately, when the pair worked together, their collaboration, which I think produced one of the director’s best earlier movies, was not a favorite for the actress or the director. According to those who knew both of them, Robert Donat was originally cast as the husband in this movie. Due to the asthma that would hobble his promising career throughout his life, Donat was replaced  in the role by the older Homolka, whose “old school, old-fashioned”  acting style grated on Sidney.  The actress also found that the director’s insistence on shooting scenes without rehearsal and in very brief takes without going into detail about her character very mechanistic, (a sample of which can be seen in the montage at the right in a key scene when the wife’s suspicions come to a head).

 

When she eventually saw the pieces of the film within the context of the movie, she agreed that the aloof Hitch was a great director, but felt that in this movie, his cinematic dexterity outweighed his judgment in certain parts of the story. The highly suspenseful sequences of the innocent in danger, which, if you have seen the movie, will understand, crossed the line for Sylvia*. On reflection, the actress said that if she’d “known how famous Alfred Hitchcock was going to be, I would have paid more attention to what he was doing. And if I’d known how long people were going to be asking me how it was to work with Hitchcock and Lang, I would have taken notes…Hitchcock wasn’t unpleasant, but he was strange.  He seemed more interested in things than people.” All in all, she would reply to queries about her experience with the masterful director by asking “What did Hitchcock teach me? To be a puppet and not try to be creative.”

Sylvia Sidney with Fritz Lang, a director she found easier to work with than many in Fury and You Only Live Once.

Though Sylvia Sidney would contradict herself a bit later by claiming that she preferred Hitchcock over her next talented but sometimes cruel director, her work with Austrian émigré  Fritz Lang in Fury (1936), the proto-noir You Only Live Once (1937), and the odd comedy, You and Me (1938), was arguably among the best of her career. Fury, which gave Spencer Tracy one of his first truly impressive roles as a working stiff whose life and character was transformed by his encounter with a lynch mob, was made at MGM, where the autocratic Lang managed to alienate the star and the entire crew, while extracting work that is still impressive. In all of these films, according to David Thomson, it was Sidney who “caught exactly the fragile happiness allowed in Lang’s world and played with a restraint that perfectly matched the fatal simplicity of the plots. According to Thomson, “[t]here are close-ups in Fury of Sidney watching Spencer Tracy in a burning jail that are as harrowed as Lillian Gish close-ups.”

Sylvia Sidney in Fury (1936)

“The only reason I did it [Fury] was to be directed by Fritz Lang. Fritz was very difficult to work with. I loved working with him because I loved the fact that he was so meticulous. He knew more about camera, he knew more about cutting. It was very satisfying to work with him. A lot of people hated him, but I loved his craftsmanship and his knowledge of film.” I tend to think that Sidney‘s blend of emotion and strength gave Fritz Lang‘s movies more humanity and depth of feeling than the brilliant but sometimes rather cold filmmaker usually enjoyed, bringing out a latent but reticent sympathy for his characters. This is particularly so in the quietly powerful sequences of Fury when she is in shock after seeing her fiancé trapped by mob violence.

Her beautiful, exhausted performance in You Only Live Once (1937)  as the young woman partnered with a vulnerable Henry Fonda who become criminals on the lam has a tenderness and romantic despair that makes this memorable movie quite moving as it examines two everyday people who are very much the “victims of circumstances” in Depression era society. The movie, which caused many fights between Sidney,  Fonda and the director blends lyricism with social commentary and elicited some of the best work of both actors’ careers in that period. In the resonant words of Joan, Sylvia’s fugitive character, whose frank loyalty to Fonda and her baby brings self destruction and release from a bleak world, we “may never find happiness, but we have a right to live.”

Sylvia Sidney & Henry Fonda in You Only Live Once (1937)

One of the last dramatic parts that Sidney played in a major motion picture in that turbulent era came with her appearance as Drina, a slum dweller whose love for her younger brother (Billy Halop) and for unemployed architect Joel McCrea in Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End (1937), cannot save either of them from temptation. In Halop‘s case, it is the lure of violence represented by visiting mobster Humphrey Bogart and the gang of the adolescent’s friends, played by the Dead End Kids, (who were introduced to movies in this movie).  McCrea, a living embodiment of the American Dream as a bright young man, is drawn to the silken appeal of kept woman Wendy Barrie, one of the residents of a towering apartment house that overlooks the tenements on the East River. He seems to waver between his desire to build a better world or a successful career.  Directed by the formidable William Wyler on an intricately designed  soundstage at a time when location shooting was not regarded as feasible or necessary by the producer Samuel Goldwyn, the movie, which is beautifully photographed by Gregg Toland, is highlighted by a then novel idea of the environment contributing to the development of criminals.

Billy Halop, Minor Watson, Bill Punsley, Sylvia Sidney, Joel McCrea in Dead End (1937).

The acting honors in this film belong rightfully to struggling actor Humphrey Bogart, Claire Trevor as his former girlfriend turned streetwalker, and character actress Marjorie Main, who, as Bogart’s bitter mother, reminds us that she had a range far beyond the usual comedic roles she played. As a girl “who just dreams of being able to live life without having to worry about someone else”, Sidney plays a surprisingly passive character whose response to her confining environment sometimes  seems awash in tears, though that may have reflected her feelings about her career in the movies as the oppressed working girl, as well as her working relationship with William Wyler.  Having suffered a serious concussion that caused the filming to be delayed for two months, the actress was unable to remember her lines, perhaps as a result of her injury. Wyler, who Sidney later said, she “found…very distasteful” undermined her confidence with his notorious demands for numerous takes and his frustrated disbelief of her recent illness.  Since Sidney was hardly the only actress to have “issues” with this meticulous director, and if, as she later claimed, Wyler also sought to make love to her after castigating her on the set, it seems that his ability to keep the actress off balance may have helped to garner her some fine notices for her sensitive performance and to convince her to return to her first love, the theater, with only occasional forays into movies after this role.

Sylvia Sidney demonstrating her needlecraft in the '60s-'70s.

Turning down the role that went to Hedy Lamarr in Algiers with Charles Boyer and a bizarre sounding planned production of Wuthering Heights opposite Boyer as well helped to make her decision to concentrate on other outlets for her creativity more likely.   Once she recovered her equilibrium from this personal and what she regarded as a personal career setback, she went on to appear in several Broadway shows, as well as many more movies, acquired and shucked three husbands between 1935 and 1951, (including publisher Bennett Cerf, actor Luther Adler as well as Carlton Alsop, the Hollywood agent and CIA operative brother of Washington columnist Joseph Alsop). According to more than one source, including her obituaries, Sylvia Sidney reportedly had a son and daughter while married to Adler, though other sources indicate only a son, Jacob, who sadly, was lost  to ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 1987. This sad event led to her becoming a spokeswoman for ALS organizations promoting research into the devastating illness. The actress aslo wrote two excellent books on needlepoint, and pretty much shed the slightly sad sack quality that had vexed her during her Depression era flicks.

Sylvia Sidney in the series WKRP in Cincinnati

She was even nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role as the salty tongued domineering mother of Joanne Woodward in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973).  Her re-emergence in many television programs, (notably WKRP in Cincinnati as the predatory and very amusing Mrs. Carlson and in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope–as a nun!), seemed to be accompanied by a “what the hell” attitude that made this reportedly difficult lady off screen extremely likable, if formidable. Publicly rejecting the contrasts between her youthful valiant beauty and her “tough as old boots” attitude and leathery appearance in her old age, she commented that “[w]omen who try to hide their age just call attention to it. Why lie about it? I don’t feel any younger…I don’t look any younger. Somebody finds out about your real age eventually. It`s easier to be frank about it…I’ve enjoyed every age in my life.”  One of my favorite appearances of this actress in her latter day sporadic film careercame in the mid-fifties when she took a supporting role as a librarian in director Richard Fleischer‘s memorable Violent Saturday (1955). In awe of the actress who had been a very big star when he was a youngster, the respectful director arranged to meet with her in her tiny dressing room prior to filming.  Eager to form a bond with the actress, Fleischer, who could only bring himself to call her “Miss Sidney”  launched into an elaborate description of her character’s backstory, trying to come up with what he hoped would be a sufficiently worthy subtext imaginatively outlining the psychological history of the character, her relationships and her self-perception.

Sylvia Sidney in all her smoky glory around 1945

During this long exegesis, Sylvia barely acknowledged his presence, apparently completely absorbed in knitting a garment.  After the spent director finished, “[t]he knitting stopped, and she looked up, a serious expression on her face. ‘That was very interesting, Mr. Fleischer,’ she said. ‘I’ll tell you what, though. When we get to the set, you just tell me where to stand and I’ll be there.’ Then she smiled. A devilish, roguish smile. All [Fleischer's] reseserve and nervousness vanished. ‘Sylvia,’ [he] said, ‘I could kill you.’ [He] kissed her and said, ‘I’ll see you on the set,’ and started to leave. As [he] opened the door she called to [him]. ‘Oh, and by the way’, she said, ‘whenever you need tears…just tell me when to cry.’

A centennial tribute to the actress can be viewed here.

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* Alfred Hitchcock later expressed regret about the choices he made in plotting Sabotage as well.

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Sources:

Fleischer, Richard, Just Tell Me When to Cry, Carroll & Graf, 1993.

Herman, Jan, A Talent for Trouble: William Wyler, Da Capo Press, 1997.

Kobal, John, People Will Talk, Aurum Press, 1986.

Thomson, David, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

N.B.: Many thanks to my friend Angie for her generous help with the images.

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29 Responses Sylvia Sidney: “Paid by the Tear”
Posted By suzidoll : February 5, 2009 2:28 pm

What a beauty Sidney was in her day but such a presence in her films with Hitchcock and Lang. Her comments about Hitchcock are interesting considering his “actors are like cattle” remark that people are fond of quoting out of context. I think some actors resented his meticulous approach to mise-en-scene in which they were as much a visual signifier as they were a three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood character. But, that doesn’t mean their performances suffered. Hers didn’t in Sabotage.

A great post on Sidney. Too bad great actresses like her are not given the DVD boxed-set treatment like the same old stars are over and over.

Posted By suzidoll : February 5, 2009 2:28 pm

What a beauty Sidney was in her day but such a presence in her films with Hitchcock and Lang. Her comments about Hitchcock are interesting considering his “actors are like cattle” remark that people are fond of quoting out of context. I think some actors resented his meticulous approach to mise-en-scene in which they were as much a visual signifier as they were a three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood character. But, that doesn’t mean their performances suffered. Hers didn’t in Sabotage.

A great post on Sidney. Too bad great actresses like her are not given the DVD boxed-set treatment like the same old stars are over and over.

Posted By Angie : February 5, 2009 2:38 pm

That was a wonderful read Moira and very interesting. I’ve only seen Sylvia in City Streets (and snippets of a few other 30s films) but she was very good in it. She seemed natural and at ease in front of the camera and had a good rapport with Guy Kibbee who played her ganster father and Gary Cooper who played her boyfriend who also got mixed up with the mob. I wish Clara Bow, who is my favorite actress, had been able to do that role but Sylvia did a wonderful job.

Posted By Angie : February 5, 2009 2:38 pm

That was a wonderful read Moira and very interesting. I’ve only seen Sylvia in City Streets (and snippets of a few other 30s films) but she was very good in it. She seemed natural and at ease in front of the camera and had a good rapport with Guy Kibbee who played her ganster father and Gary Cooper who played her boyfriend who also got mixed up with the mob. I wish Clara Bow, who is my favorite actress, had been able to do that role but Sylvia did a wonderful job.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 5, 2009 7:58 pm

Here are some nuggets of information:

1) The Russian director Sergei Eisenstein was hired to supervise, write and direct the American Tragedy project. Both parties later terminated the agreement.
Theodore Dreiser, who wrote the original novel, had approved the Eisenstein scenario and sued Paramount to prevent distribution of the movie. He lost. He did like Sylvia’s performance.
She also appeared in another film based on a Dreiser novel, Jennie Gerhardt and received a complimentary telegram from the author.

2. When Walter Wanger signed her, there was talk of her starring in Ivanhoe as Rebecca, Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Arabian Nights. These projects never happened for her.

3. She appeared in Trail of the Lonesome Pine, with Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray, and, years later, she guested on My Three Sons.

4. A legendary story about that tough director William Wyler involved Myrna Loy. Sam Godwyn was trying to talk a reluctant Loy into making Best Years of Our Lives. “That William Wyler. I hear he is practically a sadist on the set,” Loy said. But Goldwyn protested. “Thats not true. Not true at all. He is just not a very nice man.”

Good post, by the way.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 5, 2009 7:58 pm

Here are some nuggets of information:

1) The Russian director Sergei Eisenstein was hired to supervise, write and direct the American Tragedy project. Both parties later terminated the agreement.
Theodore Dreiser, who wrote the original novel, had approved the Eisenstein scenario and sued Paramount to prevent distribution of the movie. He lost. He did like Sylvia’s performance.
She also appeared in another film based on a Dreiser novel, Jennie Gerhardt and received a complimentary telegram from the author.

2. When Walter Wanger signed her, there was talk of her starring in Ivanhoe as Rebecca, Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Arabian Nights. These projects never happened for her.

3. She appeared in Trail of the Lonesome Pine, with Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray, and, years later, she guested on My Three Sons.

4. A legendary story about that tough director William Wyler involved Myrna Loy. Sam Godwyn was trying to talk a reluctant Loy into making Best Years of Our Lives. “That William Wyler. I hear he is practically a sadist on the set,” Loy said. But Goldwyn protested. “Thats not true. Not true at all. He is just not a very nice man.”

Good post, by the way.

Posted By Jenni : February 6, 2009 8:05 am

Thank you for a most interesting post! I watched Sabotage about a year ago, and then watched Fury, all the while wondering who was Sylvia Sydney. As I read your post, I realized that I recognized her from roles she played when she hit her senior years, not connnecting the dots that she was also the young actress with such expressive eyes. Thanks for helping to connect those dots! Sabotage also surprised me with Oskar Homolka playing a baddie. I was used to seeing him play characters like Uncle Chris, who loves to bluster and growl at his sisters and nieces in I Remember Mama; baddie here, no, but definitely a curmudgeon.

Posted By Jenni : February 6, 2009 8:05 am

Thank you for a most interesting post! I watched Sabotage about a year ago, and then watched Fury, all the while wondering who was Sylvia Sydney. As I read your post, I realized that I recognized her from roles she played when she hit her senior years, not connnecting the dots that she was also the young actress with such expressive eyes. Thanks for helping to connect those dots! Sabotage also surprised me with Oskar Homolka playing a baddie. I was used to seeing him play characters like Uncle Chris, who loves to bluster and growl at his sisters and nieces in I Remember Mama; baddie here, no, but definitely a curmudgeon.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 6, 2009 12:50 pm

One additional thought.

I’m not sure it is fair to refer to B.P. Schulberg as the “much older mogul.” According to my reference books, the pair hooked up in 1930 or 1931 and he was 39 and Sylvia was 21.
Joan Collins and Demi Moore were older than that when they wedded and bedded their young mates and they received compliments from some women.
Anyway, 39 is not that old. Jack Benny referred to himself as being 39 for years.

I know you know this – but his famous son was Budd Schulberg, who wrote On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 6, 2009 12:50 pm

One additional thought.

I’m not sure it is fair to refer to B.P. Schulberg as the “much older mogul.” According to my reference books, the pair hooked up in 1930 or 1931 and he was 39 and Sylvia was 21.
Joan Collins and Demi Moore were older than that when they wedded and bedded their young mates and they received compliments from some women.
Anyway, 39 is not that old. Jack Benny referred to himself as being 39 for years.

I know you know this – but his famous son was Budd Schulberg, who wrote On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd.

Posted By Patricia : February 6, 2009 3:14 pm

My late father had a soft spot in his heart for Sylvia Sidney. I don’t think it was the same spot reserved for “Susie baby” Hayward.

Thank you for a most informative piece that brought back lovely memories from “Street Scene” to “Ryan’s Hope”. Is it wrong of me to enjoy “Blood on the Sun”? Shhh. Don’t tell anybody.

Posted By Patricia : February 6, 2009 3:14 pm

My late father had a soft spot in his heart for Sylvia Sidney. I don’t think it was the same spot reserved for “Susie baby” Hayward.

Thank you for a most informative piece that brought back lovely memories from “Street Scene” to “Ryan’s Hope”. Is it wrong of me to enjoy “Blood on the Sun”? Shhh. Don’t tell anybody.

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : February 6, 2009 7:55 pm

Great post. So informative and spot on. I’ve only seen a few of her films, but I can remember seeing her as Mrs. Carlson and thinking how wonderful that a gangster’s girl can grow up to become Mother Carlson. She was lovely.

“Gene Raymond, an actor whose presence in most movies is a trial for me” (much chuckling here).

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : February 6, 2009 7:55 pm

Great post. So informative and spot on. I’ve only seen a few of her films, but I can remember seeing her as Mrs. Carlson and thinking how wonderful that a gangster’s girl can grow up to become Mother Carlson. She was lovely.

“Gene Raymond, an actor whose presence in most movies is a trial for me” (much chuckling here).

Posted By Joe aka Mongo : February 6, 2009 9:22 pm

Moira, another gem in your repertoire. Sylvia Sidney is right up there with actresses I just enjoy watching no matter the quality of the film. I love her ‘tenement’ films since no one could match her style of living in poverty which came from the heart, something I’m familiar with. My favorite Sydney role is in “You Only Live Once” alhough I’m tempted by many others including the way out “Beetle Juice” and also “Used People”.
A strong lady indeed who certainly paid her dues.

Posted By Joe aka Mongo : February 6, 2009 9:22 pm

Moira, another gem in your repertoire. Sylvia Sidney is right up there with actresses I just enjoy watching no matter the quality of the film. I love her ‘tenement’ films since no one could match her style of living in poverty which came from the heart, something I’m familiar with. My favorite Sydney role is in “You Only Live Once” alhough I’m tempted by many others including the way out “Beetle Juice” and also “Used People”.
A strong lady indeed who certainly paid her dues.

Posted By moirafinnie : February 7, 2009 10:59 am

It’s rewarding to read that there may be others who appreciate Sylvia Sidney‘s youthful work out there.

There are a couple of very rare Sylvia Sidney movies from the ’30s that I have not been able to snag a peek at–though being Paramount pics from the ’30s, almost all of Sylvia Sidney’s movies are rather rarely screened and rather hard to find.

One of these is Accent on Youth (1935), one of the actress’ too few comedies with none other than Herbert Marshall(1935), which was apparently a well-reviewed May-September romance. Btw, the same Samson Raphaelson material was eventually re-fashioned to produce the Clark Gable-Carroll Baker movie, But Not For Me(1959)

Another obscure movie with S.S. is the WPA production of the agitprop play “One Third of a Nation” filmed by the Federal Theater Production Company in New York in 1939 and distributed by Paramount. The actress, finding herself rather unhappily typecast in Hollywood movies, began to work with the Group Theater after returning to NYC around the time that she became involved and eventually married a leading light of the Group, Luther Adler. Many members of the Group Theater are among the cast in One Third of a Nation. One of Sylvia Sidney‘s very young co-stars in this film was a teenage Sidney Lumet, (who did not enjoy the experience of working with the demanding Ms. Sidney, based on his comments in an interview he conducted with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine). This movie, which once again took Sylvia to the tenements, is lovingly described rather well by Danny Miller in an appreciation linked below:
One Third of a Nation

Patricia,
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I like Blood on the Sun a lot too–even though it has its ragged moments, none of them are between Cagney & Sidney. I guess I’m not politically correct, but the movie is most charming when she is on the screen and Jimmy is trying to thwart the Tanaka Plan single-handedly.

Jenni,
I find Oscar Homolka, even in I Remember Mama a formidable and usually intimidating presence. What a contrast between his casting in Sabotage and Hitchcock’s original hope of having Robert Donat in that role! I do love this very dark movie, however, especially because of the quicksilver expressiveness of Sidney and the director’s brilliant composition of the movie.

Al,
Thanks for mentioning those additional and highly imaginative casting dreams of the always interesting producer, Walter Wanger. As mentioned in my piece, Sidney was under contract to Wanger, whose independent projects show that he was not afraid to have his reach exceed his grasp. In one of the many interviews that Sylvia Sidney gave near the end of her life, she claimed that Wanger lost interest in her career after she rejected the part that eventually won Hedy Lamarr acclaim in Algiers.

I would love to see a retrospective of Wanger‘s movies someday, even though the collaboration between him, his then wife Joan Bennett and Fritz Lang has received a great deal of attention, there are many interesting, sometimes pretentious and almost always ambitious movies in his filmography. I think it’s rather sad that Wanger is best remembered, if at all, at the lowest moment of his life in 1951 for his violent encounter with MCA agent Jennings Lang in a parking lot. If others are interested in reading more about Walter Wanger, you might enjoy the Hollywood Renegades website biography of him, found here

Btw, you will see that I had mentioned that Budd Schulberg was the son of B.P. very briefly within the text of the blog. The age discrepancy between the Paramount exec and actress was mentioned repeatedly in articles and memoirs from the mid-30s concerning the divorce of Benjamin P. Schulberg and Ad Schulberg. The age difference between the mogul and the actress was notable to many, in part because the elder Schulberg first spotted and signed Sylvia to a contract when he saw her on Broadway around 1928, when she was still only 17. Budd Schulberg also mentions the age and status difference between the two in the notes of his memoir, Moving Pictures, Memories of a Hollywood Prince (Stein and Day, 1981).

I’m so glad that you mentioned the colorful Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936). That movie seems to have been forgotten, though I remember loving the outdoor adventure when I saw it as a kid on tv. Hope to see it again someday!

Mongo,
I’d forgotten that Sylvia was in Used People…I bet she did that one in order to meet Marcello Mastroianni, though it was a great part and fun to see her with Jessica Tandy on screen as the two adventuresses seeking naughty fun before the sun sets.

Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful comments.

Posted By moirafinnie : February 7, 2009 10:59 am

It’s rewarding to read that there may be others who appreciate Sylvia Sidney‘s youthful work out there.

There are a couple of very rare Sylvia Sidney movies from the ’30s that I have not been able to snag a peek at–though being Paramount pics from the ’30s, almost all of Sylvia Sidney’s movies are rather rarely screened and rather hard to find.

One of these is Accent on Youth (1935), one of the actress’ too few comedies with none other than Herbert Marshall(1935), which was apparently a well-reviewed May-September romance. Btw, the same Samson Raphaelson material was eventually re-fashioned to produce the Clark Gable-Carroll Baker movie, But Not For Me(1959)

Another obscure movie with S.S. is the WPA production of the agitprop play “One Third of a Nation” filmed by the Federal Theater Production Company in New York in 1939 and distributed by Paramount. The actress, finding herself rather unhappily typecast in Hollywood movies, began to work with the Group Theater after returning to NYC around the time that she became involved and eventually married a leading light of the Group, Luther Adler. Many members of the Group Theater are among the cast in One Third of a Nation. One of Sylvia Sidney‘s very young co-stars in this film was a teenage Sidney Lumet, (who did not enjoy the experience of working with the demanding Ms. Sidney, based on his comments in an interview he conducted with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine). This movie, which once again took Sylvia to the tenements, is lovingly described rather well by Danny Miller in an appreciation linked below:
One Third of a Nation

Patricia,
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I like Blood on the Sun a lot too–even though it has its ragged moments, none of them are between Cagney & Sidney. I guess I’m not politically correct, but the movie is most charming when she is on the screen and Jimmy is trying to thwart the Tanaka Plan single-handedly.

Jenni,
I find Oscar Homolka, even in I Remember Mama a formidable and usually intimidating presence. What a contrast between his casting in Sabotage and Hitchcock’s original hope of having Robert Donat in that role! I do love this very dark movie, however, especially because of the quicksilver expressiveness of Sidney and the director’s brilliant composition of the movie.

Al,
Thanks for mentioning those additional and highly imaginative casting dreams of the always interesting producer, Walter Wanger. As mentioned in my piece, Sidney was under contract to Wanger, whose independent projects show that he was not afraid to have his reach exceed his grasp. In one of the many interviews that Sylvia Sidney gave near the end of her life, she claimed that Wanger lost interest in her career after she rejected the part that eventually won Hedy Lamarr acclaim in Algiers.

I would love to see a retrospective of Wanger‘s movies someday, even though the collaboration between him, his then wife Joan Bennett and Fritz Lang has received a great deal of attention, there are many interesting, sometimes pretentious and almost always ambitious movies in his filmography. I think it’s rather sad that Wanger is best remembered, if at all, at the lowest moment of his life in 1951 for his violent encounter with MCA agent Jennings Lang in a parking lot. If others are interested in reading more about Walter Wanger, you might enjoy the Hollywood Renegades website biography of him, found here

Btw, you will see that I had mentioned that Budd Schulberg was the son of B.P. very briefly within the text of the blog. The age discrepancy between the Paramount exec and actress was mentioned repeatedly in articles and memoirs from the mid-30s concerning the divorce of Benjamin P. Schulberg and Ad Schulberg. The age difference between the mogul and the actress was notable to many, in part because the elder Schulberg first spotted and signed Sylvia to a contract when he saw her on Broadway around 1928, when she was still only 17. Budd Schulberg also mentions the age and status difference between the two in the notes of his memoir, Moving Pictures, Memories of a Hollywood Prince (Stein and Day, 1981).

I’m so glad that you mentioned the colorful Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936). That movie seems to have been forgotten, though I remember loving the outdoor adventure when I saw it as a kid on tv. Hope to see it again someday!

Mongo,
I’d forgotten that Sylvia was in Used People…I bet she did that one in order to meet Marcello Mastroianni, though it was a great part and fun to see her with Jessica Tandy on screen as the two adventuresses seeking naughty fun before the sun sets.

Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful comments.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 9, 2009 8:23 am

I remember watching a scene from Trail of the Lonesome Pine and then turning the TV off. When you do that, of course, you never know when you might not get a chance to see the movie again.

Walter Wanger was certainly associated with many classic and/or well known movies: Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Fritz Lang movies. And others, of course.
Now on the titles I just mentioned I suspect that the strong directors (Ford, Hitchcock, Don Siegel, Lang) were mainly responsible for the quality – but who knows?

I did notice that you mentioned Wanger in your article but I didn’t see the mention of Budd Schulberg. Sorry.

This happens to me once in a while when I write free lance articles and features for newspapers. People tell me that they are disappointed that I didn’t put a particular fact in an article and they’re wrong because I did include it. I feel that on occasion I need to go over to their homes and read the article aloud to them.

Oh well. I don’t expect to have you knocking on my door any time sooner.

Back to Wanger. He is fascinating. He served prison time for the shooting incident, was released and then made two movies critical of the prison system -Riot in Cell Block 11 and I Want to Live (both part of my VHS movie collection).

The connection between Sidney, Wanger and Schulberg seems interesting.
Lets see if I got this straight. Sidney had a romantic relationship with Schulberg. She signs to make movies with Wanger. Schulberg’s son Budd then works for Wanger as a screenwriter on the film Winter Carnival. F. Scott Fitzgerald is also a writer for the film and is drunk as usual and is fired. Budd writes a novel about the incident later. I believe it was called The Disenchanted. Maybe he talks about this in his Hollywood Prince book, which I missed.

Is it just us? Are we the only movie Geeks that care about this stuff? I guess I care because time is moving on, this stuff will get forgotten and the kids today don’t know who Bogart, Gable, Brando or even Robert Redford are.

Have a good day.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 9, 2009 8:23 am

I remember watching a scene from Trail of the Lonesome Pine and then turning the TV off. When you do that, of course, you never know when you might not get a chance to see the movie again.

Walter Wanger was certainly associated with many classic and/or well known movies: Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Fritz Lang movies. And others, of course.
Now on the titles I just mentioned I suspect that the strong directors (Ford, Hitchcock, Don Siegel, Lang) were mainly responsible for the quality – but who knows?

I did notice that you mentioned Wanger in your article but I didn’t see the mention of Budd Schulberg. Sorry.

This happens to me once in a while when I write free lance articles and features for newspapers. People tell me that they are disappointed that I didn’t put a particular fact in an article and they’re wrong because I did include it. I feel that on occasion I need to go over to their homes and read the article aloud to them.

Oh well. I don’t expect to have you knocking on my door any time sooner.

Back to Wanger. He is fascinating. He served prison time for the shooting incident, was released and then made two movies critical of the prison system -Riot in Cell Block 11 and I Want to Live (both part of my VHS movie collection).

The connection between Sidney, Wanger and Schulberg seems interesting.
Lets see if I got this straight. Sidney had a romantic relationship with Schulberg. She signs to make movies with Wanger. Schulberg’s son Budd then works for Wanger as a screenwriter on the film Winter Carnival. F. Scott Fitzgerald is also a writer for the film and is drunk as usual and is fired. Budd writes a novel about the incident later. I believe it was called The Disenchanted. Maybe he talks about this in his Hollywood Prince book, which I missed.

Is it just us? Are we the only movie Geeks that care about this stuff? I guess I care because time is moving on, this stuff will get forgotten and the kids today don’t know who Bogart, Gable, Brando or even Robert Redford are.

Have a good day.

Posted By abwhittem : February 10, 2009 2:33 pm

I am a post WWII Baby Boomer who, although an old b/w movie fan, didn’t know Sylvia Sidney from Adam’s Housecat until she appeared on WKRP. My husband, who was several years older than I, recognized her immediately on this his favorite sitcom (WKRP). He started telling me about her when he went to the movies and saw this “gamine-faced” actress. He told me about all of her movies he had seen as first-run features. Soon after that, I saw her in FURY, and like my husband, I became smittened. I have seen many of her films on TCM, and hope to see all of the others at some point.
TCM and those who are commited to the preservation AND showing of old movies need to expand their library to include all of the movies they can find. How can we appreciate what and whom we’ve never see?
Thanks for the great info on Miss Sidney.

Posted By abwhittem : February 10, 2009 2:33 pm

I am a post WWII Baby Boomer who, although an old b/w movie fan, didn’t know Sylvia Sidney from Adam’s Housecat until she appeared on WKRP. My husband, who was several years older than I, recognized her immediately on this his favorite sitcom (WKRP). He started telling me about her when he went to the movies and saw this “gamine-faced” actress. He told me about all of her movies he had seen as first-run features. Soon after that, I saw her in FURY, and like my husband, I became smittened. I have seen many of her films on TCM, and hope to see all of the others at some point.
TCM and those who are commited to the preservation AND showing of old movies need to expand their library to include all of the movies they can find. How can we appreciate what and whom we’ve never see?
Thanks for the great info on Miss Sidney.

Posted By moirafinnie : February 10, 2009 3:59 pm

Dear Al,
If I could come knocking on your door, I would, because your font of knowledge and curiosity never ceases to intrigue me. Maybe you and I are the among the few people who think that the B.P. Schulberg-Sidney-Fitzgerald-Wanger-Budd Schulberg connections are fascinating, but I would love to sit down and talk about it sometime! Have you read Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent by Matthew Bernstein (University of CA Press)? The author does a good job of tracing Wanger’s roots from his formative years at Dartmouth to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and beyond. Wanger may have been occasionally erratic, but, as with many of those who made movies in his time, he loved to tell stories and, in addition, was open to new storytelling ideas, alert to the political winds of his era, and often had good taste in directors, as well as being capable of peddling some delightful hokum.

Btw, I know what you mean about turning off a movie such as The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. One not only doesn’t know when it may appear again, but if it will…

I relish your challenging comments whenever they appear and feel as though maybe I’ve done something right when you respond to a blog.

Hi abwhittem,
I agree. We need to see the films of people like Sylvia Sidney to appreciate them. That’s one reason why the upcoming dvd of Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) with her and Fredric March in the cast is a cheerful prospect.

Thank you both for your additional remarks.

Posted By moirafinnie : February 10, 2009 3:59 pm

Dear Al,
If I could come knocking on your door, I would, because your font of knowledge and curiosity never ceases to intrigue me. Maybe you and I are the among the few people who think that the B.P. Schulberg-Sidney-Fitzgerald-Wanger-Budd Schulberg connections are fascinating, but I would love to sit down and talk about it sometime! Have you read Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent by Matthew Bernstein (University of CA Press)? The author does a good job of tracing Wanger’s roots from his formative years at Dartmouth to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and beyond. Wanger may have been occasionally erratic, but, as with many of those who made movies in his time, he loved to tell stories and, in addition, was open to new storytelling ideas, alert to the political winds of his era, and often had good taste in directors, as well as being capable of peddling some delightful hokum.

Btw, I know what you mean about turning off a movie such as The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. One not only doesn’t know when it may appear again, but if it will…

I relish your challenging comments whenever they appear and feel as though maybe I’ve done something right when you respond to a blog.

Hi abwhittem,
I agree. We need to see the films of people like Sylvia Sidney to appreciate them. That’s one reason why the upcoming dvd of Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) with her and Fredric March in the cast is a cheerful prospect.

Thank you both for your additional remarks.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 13, 2009 11:56 am

I’m sorry for the delay in responding to your message with all those wonderful compliments.
It took a while for me to figure out what to say. Also, it didn’t help that I was without electricity and phone (and Internet) due to wind storms yesterday.
Unlike the Morlocks, I don’t earn any money from my interest in old movies. I know you guys have movie-related work because you mention it in your blogs. I never even tried to get a job along those lines. The main way I put meals on the Lowe dinner table and pay the rent is through freelance writing. Years ago I received a journalism degree from Duquesne University and I learned my craft there.
I have written thousands of articles since then. Obituaries, columns, meeting coverage, features on oddities, etc. I have been to more suburban council and school board meetings than anyone you will ever meet during your lifetime.
But I obviously have a strong love for old movies.
I served six years in the Army, including one year in Viet Nam, where I was employed as a parts clerk in a motor pool. We didn’t see combat although we were on convoy every day and could have been hit.
I spent three years at Fort Dix, New Jersey in the mid-70s. I would visit New York City once or twice a week. My destination was those movie houses specializing in old movies and I caught up on a lot of classics no longer being televised in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Theatre 80 Street Marks, the Regency and others. Of course, with the popularity of VCRs these places no longer exist, although I imagine that old movies are still shown on a limited basis. Also, in New York, the TV channels showed plenty of oldies. There were bookstores selling books on classic film and I bought most of my collection there.
I also now have a collection of VHS tapes, with many classic titles. It is no surprise that someone who spent so much time at New York revival houses should do that. Pittsburgh still has places where you can buy rare tapes.
So it was fateful that I start reading the Morlocks and responding to them. I know stuff. I know lots and lots and lots of stuff.
Regarding old movies – I’m good. I know that. And I am usually not immodest.
You guys are good at what you do too. All the Morlocks are good writers.
So, Moira, I appreciate your compliments. And I plan to continue adding my observations to the Morlocks’ posts. Life has a way of intruding sometimes, so it may not be as fequently as I want. But I’ll do my best.
Thank you.

Posted By Al Lowe : February 13, 2009 11:56 am

I’m sorry for the delay in responding to your message with all those wonderful compliments.
It took a while for me to figure out what to say. Also, it didn’t help that I was without electricity and phone (and Internet) due to wind storms yesterday.
Unlike the Morlocks, I don’t earn any money from my interest in old movies. I know you guys have movie-related work because you mention it in your blogs. I never even tried to get a job along those lines. The main way I put meals on the Lowe dinner table and pay the rent is through freelance writing. Years ago I received a journalism degree from Duquesne University and I learned my craft there.
I have written thousands of articles since then. Obituaries, columns, meeting coverage, features on oddities, etc. I have been to more suburban council and school board meetings than anyone you will ever meet during your lifetime.
But I obviously have a strong love for old movies.
I served six years in the Army, including one year in Viet Nam, where I was employed as a parts clerk in a motor pool. We didn’t see combat although we were on convoy every day and could have been hit.
I spent three years at Fort Dix, New Jersey in the mid-70s. I would visit New York City once or twice a week. My destination was those movie houses specializing in old movies and I caught up on a lot of classics no longer being televised in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Theatre 80 Street Marks, the Regency and others. Of course, with the popularity of VCRs these places no longer exist, although I imagine that old movies are still shown on a limited basis. Also, in New York, the TV channels showed plenty of oldies. There were bookstores selling books on classic film and I bought most of my collection there.
I also now have a collection of VHS tapes, with many classic titles. It is no surprise that someone who spent so much time at New York revival houses should do that. Pittsburgh still has places where you can buy rare tapes.
So it was fateful that I start reading the Morlocks and responding to them. I know stuff. I know lots and lots and lots of stuff.
Regarding old movies – I’m good. I know that. And I am usually not immodest.
You guys are good at what you do too. All the Morlocks are good writers.
So, Moira, I appreciate your compliments. And I plan to continue adding my observations to the Morlocks’ posts. Life has a way of intruding sometimes, so it may not be as fequently as I want. But I’ll do my best.
Thank you.

Posted By Al Lowe : April 13, 2009 5:24 pm

I’m afraid Mr. Sandler is right. Sylvia’s son Jody was born Oct. 22, 1939 in Manhatten. He was her first and only child. I was also born Oct. 22. Not the same year, of course.
In 1972, when the reference book I consulted was published, Jody was a telephone company executive.

Posted By Al Lowe : April 13, 2009 5:24 pm

I’m afraid Mr. Sandler is right. Sylvia’s son Jody was born Oct. 22, 1939 in Manhatten. He was her first and only child. I was also born Oct. 22. Not the same year, of course.
In 1972, when the reference book I consulted was published, Jody was a telephone company executive.

Posted By Word Nerd : Limpid | Lawhimsy's Blog : November 6, 2013 5:11 pm

[…] of a crystal and let’s not forget that still, or in this case, limpid waters run deep! Sylvia Sidney is a perfectly limpid quaintrelle! What do you think? Does the word limpid have a positive […]

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