February 09, 1999 12:00 AM

Sylvia Sidney, the waiflike star of the 1930s (when she was one of Paramount’s biggest stars) who is probably best known to modern audiences for her roles in Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” and “Mars Attacks,” died in New York Thursday. She was 88. The feisty, driven Miss Sidney made her professional theater debut at 16 and was still acting 70 years later. Among her directors were Josef von Sternberg, for “An American Tragedy,” 1931; Alfred Hitchcock, for “Sabotage,” 1936; William Wyler, for “Dead End,” 1937; and Fritz Lang, for “Fury,” 1936, “You Only Live Once,” 1937, and “You and Me,” 1938. Her three husbands included publisher Bennett Cerf.

  • For another notable Hollywood death, see PASSAGES.

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