Sylvia Sidney stole the screen whenever she would appear in gangster films in the 1930s, playing opposite the likes of Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Henry Fonda in movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Sabotage” (1936) and “You Only Live Once” (1937). Her personal life was dramatic, too. She had a wild affair with a married Paramount executive, B.P. Schulberg (his son would go on to write the famous book skewering Hollywood called “What makes Sammy Run”) and she was married three times. The first wedding was with publisher Bennet Cerf, who summed up their relationship like this: “One should never legalize a hot romance.” Her second marriage was to acting teacher Lou Adler, and her third spouse was a radio announcer, Carlton Alsop. Her only child, a son with Adler, died in his 40’s of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Sidney’s career continued with steady appearances in movies as well as TV. Her final role was as a senile grandmother in a Tim Burton film “Mars Attacks!” in 1996. Sidney died of throat cancer at the age of 89 in 1999, alone, leaving no close family behind, just a black pug named Malcolm that she left with friends at the National Arts Club. The dog became a beloved mascot, attending social events with style just as his master had done.