Friday, March 14, 2008

Sidney Fox

Sidney Fox, born Sidney Leiffer in New York City on December 10, 1907 (though 1910 was the publicized year), for a time considered studying law, but caught the acting bug instead. She joined a Johnstown, Pennsylvania stock company where she cut her performing teeth.

Her Nov 19, 1929 Broadway debut was in It Never Rains and the New York Times called her "pretty and demure". However, her second play, Lost Sheep, which debuted on May 5, 1930, garnered this from the Times: "As Rhoda, little Sidney Fox won the hearts of the audience at once with her frail, girlish beauty and her pert spirit. Nothing could be more tenderly disarming than the freshness of her acting." And it was film mogul Carl Laemmle, Jr, in the audience of Lost Sheep, who was disarmed and brought Sidney to Hollywood.

She made her film debut in the 1931's The Bad Sister (her role) opposite Conrad Nagel, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and Zasu Pitts. Bette (in the role of the good sister and her debut also) said over the years that Sidney got the title part because of her "relationship" with Carl. Fox was also named a Wampas Baby Star that year. 1931 also saw her in Preston Sturgess' Strictly Dishonorable where her performance was well received.

However, Sidney is best recalled, and in some cases derided, for her starring role as 'Madamoiselle Camille L'Espanaye' in the 1932's Murders in the Rue Morgue opposite Bela Lugosi. Her last of 14 film appearances would be in the 1934's Down to Their Last Yacht opposite Mary Boland, Polly Moran and Ned Sparks.

It was primarily rumors of her continuing relationship with Carl Jr. and some said even Carl senior, that blunted her career. Then after a rocky, contentious and physically abusive marriage to film writer Charles Beahan, Sidney died of an overdose of sleeping pills which may have been suicide, but was officially ruled as an accidental death, on November 14, 1942.

Cover girl for the January 1933 issue of Modern Screen.

Strictly Dishonorable, a Carl Laemmle, Jr. production.

Picture Play , March 1932

Silver Screen, January 1933

Movie Mirror, January 1933 - Inside back cover
Bonus points to anyone who can identify the actor shown in the picture - I can't.

Publicity Still

Publicity Still

Sidney Fox - What do you think - Allure?


kristin said...

Most definitely!

And WHERE can we get hats like that today? I am dying looking for an early 30's cloche; the working girl kind worn everywhere from 1930-1933.

The Siren said...

my goodness, she was lovely! What a sad, sad life story though. Last week I watched "A Woman's Face" and saw Gwili Andre in a movie for the first time ... do you have any cards of her? so many of these starlets were brief candles indeeds.

Operator_99 said...

Campaspe, Gwili is on the list for coverage, but unfortunately also on the list of sad endings.

The Siren said...

I'd only ever heard of Gwili's awful end, but I was surprised and even more saddened to see that she was talented; she gave a really deft, charismatic performance.

that's why I'm never too sad to read about the ones who had talent but still opted out, either mostly or entirely, and developed a happy personal life, like Rainer or Frances Dee. It's a shame for me as a moviegoer but you can't help but be glad for them.

have you seen Fox in anything? I saw Rue Morgue ages ago and I don't remember much, except that the ape-blood injection angle did NOT add much to Poe.

Operator_99 said...

I recently re-watched Strictly Dishonorable (Preston Sturgis) again while screen grabbing for the post. She is quite charming in the lead female role, esp. with a lilting southern accent coming from a girl from New York City. I recorded it when it was on TCM back in 2004. I am pretty sure it is in there rotation, so you might keep an eye out for it.

kristin said...

Probably not, but the actor in the advert looks like John Gilbert.

bee said...

lovely instant favorite!

Anonymous said...

The guy in the ad looks like Gilbert Roland!

I want one of those hats too!

Too many of these women did themselves in....and unfortunately not much has changed.

Clif Brown said...

Have been reading 1930 love letters between my Mom and Dad. Both were apparently movie fans and in one letter my dad compares my mom to Sidney Fox, calling her "sweet and unaffected". Mom was 5'1" so there was that tiny physical aspect as well. The movie "Strictly Dishonorable" is mentioned as if it were a somewhat shocking movie. I haven't seen it but I'd imagine it would seem laughable in that regard these days. As for movie actresses, Dad was most wild about Peggy Shannon, who, I believe, also came to an early end like Ms. Fox

Operator_99 said...

Clif, Great story, must be neat to see who they were actually talking about. Peggy Shannon is also on this site if you care to learn a bit more about her. Slightly Dishonorable has a couple of moments, but much tamer the some other Pre-code films.