This tiny (4' 11"), appealing, coquettish-looking Hollywood actress had only a few active years in early talkies before her career took a bad hit. A few years after that she joined other shattered 1930s hopefuls (Peg Entwistle, Gwili Andre, Peggy Shannon) as tragic symbols of unrequited stardom.Sidney Fox was born Sidney Liefer in New York City on December 10, 1907 (many resources inaccurately give 1910 as her birth date), the daughter of Joseph Liefer. Sidney began contributing to her family i... more
This tiny (4' 11"), appealing, coquettish-looking Hollywood actress had only a few active years in early talkies before her career took a bad hit. A few years after that she joined other shattered 1930s hopefuls (Peg Entwistle, Gwili Andre, Peggy Shannon) as tragic symbols of unrequited stardom.Sidney Fox was born Sidney Liefer in New York City on December 10, 1907 (many resources inaccurately give 1910 as her birth date), the daughter of Joseph Liefer. Sidney began contributing to her family income as a teenager in a variety of ways - as a model on Fifth Avenue and a lovelorn columnist to name a couple. At one point she entertained the thought of a law career, but her acting desires soon took over. She joined a stock company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where she performed in such shows as "The Big Pond," "Wedding Bells," "The Ghost Train" and "Gregory's Woman."Back in New York she made her Broadway debut in 1929 with the popular comedy "It Never Rains" at the Republic Theatre, then garnered more attention the next year with another comedy role in "Lost Sheep", which served as her breakthrough into films. Discovered by Universal mogul Carl Laemmle Jr., she was placed directly into a starring role opposite Bette Davis (in her film debut as well) in The Bad Sister (1931). In an odd bit of casting, it was innocent-eyed Sidney who played the scheming, vixenish sister and the formidable Bette playing the timid, sympathetic one in a movie that also co-starred up-and-comer Humphrey Bogart.Guided by Laemlle, Jr., Universal continued their buildup of the pert and girlish brunette starlet with appearances in more pictures. Named one of 13 "Wampas Baby Stars" of 1931, she also began making the covers of such movie magazines as "Modern Screen" and "Movie Mirror". Sidney continued making strides in film comedy co-starring with Spencer Tracy in Six Cylinder Love (1931) and, more importantly, Paul Lukas in Strictly Dishonorable (1931), the latter arguably the best role of her career as the Southern girl who attracts the attention of an Italian opera star (Lukas). Amazingly, she received top billing over Universal horror icon Bela Lugosi in her best-remembered film, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), but Lugosi easily stole the proceedings from the rather overly dramatic ingénue.Sidney's performances in film tended toward the saccharine and obviousness and this one-dimensional aspect hurt a number of her films, including the dramatic soapers Nice Women (1931), Afraid to Talk (1932) and, notably, Midnight (1934), in which she ineffectively reteamed with Bogart. Sweet and simple in style, she seemed better suited towards lighter comedy and one of her better films at the time was _Once in a Lifetime (1932) co-starring funny guy Jack Oakie. Targeted by gossipmongers as to her "professional relationship" with Laemmle, Jr., she avoided the Hollywood limelight for a time and tried her luck appearing in such European features as Don Quixote (1933), directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and Die Abenteuer des Königs Pausole (1933) [The Adventures of King Pausole], but to little avail.A stormy marriage to Universal Studios editor Charles Beahan (they married in December of 1932) did not help matters as she became more famous for her tabloid-feeding off-camera life than for the films she was making. They had no children. Her last three pictures -- Midnight (1934), Down to Their Last Yacht (1934) a School for Girls (1934) -- did nothing to reverse her downhill fortunes in Hollywood, although she remained a romantic leading lady throughout her career and was never reduced to bit parts. The following years included some work here and there on the Orpheum Theatre circuit, on radio and a brief return to Broadway in a replacement role. Then there was nothing.Illness and depression set in, not helped by her unhappy, abusive marriage. On the morning of November 15, 1942, the 34-year-old actress was found dead in her Beverly Hills bedroom by her husband after consuming a fatal number of sleeping pills. A most probable suicide, she was buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Queens, New York. Little remembered today, lovely Sidney Fox remains a sad footnote in the Hollywood annals but her pictures still deserve a curious look.