Sylvia Sidney, 88, the waiflike star of the 1930s who specialized in playing victims and got an Oscar nomination in 1973 for a comeback role in "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams," died of throat cancer July 1.

Miss Sidney made her professional theater debut at 16 and was still acting 70 years later. She made a brief appearance in the 1988 hit "Beetlejuice" and had a small role in "Mars Attacks" in 1996. She had recently signed a seven-year contract for a recurring role on the TV series "Fantasy Island."

After breaking into films in the late 1920s, she became one of Paramount's top actresses.

The others, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard among them, were tough and sharp-witted -- the way Miss Sidney was in person.

But her film specialty was playing victims: the slum girl murdered by her fiance in "An American Tragedy," the nice girlfriend of racketeer Gary Cooper in "City Streets," the nice girlfriend of Spencer Tracy, falsely accused of murder, in "Fury."

She returned to the screen in the 1973 drama "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams," in which she played Joanne Woodward's doomed mother. She was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress.

In 1986, she won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for "An Early Frost," a TV movie in which she played the grandmother of an AIDS patient.

In "Beetlejuice," Miss Sidney played a cranky otherworldly adviser to a husband and wife who die and must learn the ways of the spirit world.

Miss Sidney, a descendant of Russian Jews, was born Sophia Kosow in New York City on Aug. 8, 1910. She began taking dancing lessons at age 10 and was a teenager when she made her professional stage debut in 1926.

She married three times, to publisher Bennett Cerf, actor Luther Adler and publicist Carlton Alsop. All three marriages ended in divorce. Jacob Adler, her only child, died in the mid-1980s of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Miss Sidney also was an accomplished needlepoint artist and wrote two books on the subject.

She has no survivors.

CAPTION: Sylvia Sidney's 60-year career included roles in the 1946 movie "Mr. Ace," left, and an NBC television movie 15 years later.