Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Sylvia Sidney Centennial

August 8th, 2010 will mark the 100th anniversary of Sylvia Sidney's birth.

I became a die-hard fan of the tough yet vulnerable actress since encountering her in Mary Burns, Fugitive (1935) on WPIX eons ago in childhood, and have always stopped to watch her work, particularly in films of the '30s and '40s. I hope that others eventually will know a bit more about Sylvia Sidney than Beetlejuice and Mars Attacks! too. Those Tim Burton movies sure have a certain appeal, but where are the accolades for You Only Live Once, The Searching Wind, or even Blood on the Sun? At least Hulu is making available episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati, the quasi-classic television series that Ms. Sidney graced for a time in the pilot episode. She was devastatingly funny as the formidable Mama Carlson, if a bit frightening.

To celebrate this upcoming date, I've made youtube video below . You can see more about this too seldom seen (nowadays) actress here on this site, but if you can find them, please don't miss any of her films. Alas, the next time one of her films will appear on TCM is on October 13, 2010 when Make Me a Star (1932) will be seen at 4:30 AM!

I'm hoping that someone in control of her many Paramount films will find it possible to release more of her films on DVD soon.

4 comments :

Caftan Woman said...

Lovely tribute.

Sylvia was a favourite of my late father's. He didn't add "baby" to her name, as he did with Miss Hayward, but it was a heartfelt admiration.

What is it that makes "Blood on the Sun" so darn watchable? I reckon it must be Sydney and Cagney.

Moira Finnie said...

Oh, Patricia!
I haven't seen Blood on the Sun (1945) in soooo long. I am so glad that someone other than me remembers this wonderful actress.

I just remembered reading in "Cagney on Cagney" that Jimmy teased Sylvia Sidney mercilessly while working with the delicate looking actress in all her lovely Geisha-glory, looking perfectly beautiful wearing the traditional kimono and the shimada hairstyle. According to Cagney:

"One day Sylvia was making a costume test before the camera, and I watched her as she turned around, looking as elegant as any Shinto princess and twice as lovely. Now, Sylvia is Jewish, and I with my affection for Yiddish can't resist the opportunity to use it when I can. To tease her, from behind the camera I said, 'Zee gigt aus vi a Chinkeh!' ('She looks like a Chinese lady!') Without stopping her pirouette before the camera, she said, 'Fa vus nit?' ('Why not?') It is some accomplishment to be talented, beautiful and funny."

Thanks so much for adding your comment.
Moira

Anonymous said...

Moira, Thanks for remembering Sylvia as a star. We knew her well
for the last 22 years of her life
and have so many wonderful memeories of her ad the always candid,witty and wise, kind person who told great stories regarding her personal and professional life.

As a friend ahe was steadfast and loyal always caring and interested in what you were doing. As an actor
she was a passionate professional and emensely talented and skilled
on film and on stage.

You mentined her gift as a comedic actor; it was just an example of her wide range as a performer. And she was generous with other actors. Kim Catrell told us that once when working with Sylvia,she told Kim not to work so hard at trying to get it right. Take it easy and we all know how well that has worked for Kim and I imagine others who worked with the great lady.

She was also a keen gardner, great cook, and kept a beautiful and clean house. She didn;t have full-time help, but dio have a weekly cleaning woman, Her name? Gloria Swanson. No,not that one! And we all had so much fun when she mentioned it to ususpecting listners. She was also
a full-time mother with her son Jacob (Jody) he was her only child and the online mentions of a daugher is incorrect. She always put his well-being ahead of everything else in her life. She never traveled out of town for work
before stopping at the place that took care of him in New York state.

I won't go on, but I just wanted to give you a peek at the private side of Sylvia and also her dedication to her acting.

We miss her lovely self all the time.

Keep up the good work on your blog.

Moira Finnie said...

Thank you so much for posting your personal recollections of Sylvia Sidney. I always look for her work and only occasionally see her films from the 30s, 40s and 50s being shown. I do think her gifted and sensitive portrayals need to be better known. I hope that you will feel free to share any more comments on Ms. Sidney here anytime. Just this morning I was chatting with one acquaintance about one of her films with Fritz Lang--You and Me (1938), which I have never seen! Thanks again.
Sincerely,
Moira

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