Phillips, Sian 1934–

views updated

Phillips, Sian 1934–

(Sian Philips)


Original name, Jane Elizabeth Ailwen Phillips; born May 14, 1934, in Bettws, Carmarthenshire, Wales; daughter of David (a policeman) and Sally (a teacher; maiden name, Thomas) Phillips; married D. Roy, 1956 (divorced, 1960); married Peter O'Toole (an actor), 1960 (some sources say 1959; divorced, 1979); married Robin Sachs (an actor), December 24, 1979 (divorced, 1991); children: (second marriage) Katherine ("Kate"), Patricia ("Pat"). Education: Graduated from the University of Wales (with honors), 1955; studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Avocational Interests: Canvas embroidery, gardening, walking, drawing, painting.

Addresses: Agent—Peters Fraser & Dunlop, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England. Contact—c/o Simon Beresford, Dalzell & Beresford, 26 Astwood Mews, London SW7 4DE, England.

Career: Actress. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), worked for BBC-Radio, Wales, as a child actress, and for BBC-Television, Wales, during the 1950s; BBC Repertory Company, news reader, announcer, and member, 1953–55; National Theatre Company, toured Wales in original Welsh plays and in classic English translations for the Welsh Arts Council, 1953–55. Welsh Arts Council, member; Arts Council, member of the drama committee; National Theatre of Wales, member of the board of governors; Welsh College of Music and Drama, member of the board of governors, 1992; St. David's Trust, member of the board of governors; member of National Eisteddfod of Caernarvon and Gorsedd of Bards, in recognition of services to Welsh drama. Sometimes credited as Sian Philips.

Member: Honorary Order of the Druids.

Awards, Honors: London stage award nominations, best actress, 1964, for The Night of the Iguana, and 1966, for Man and Superman; National Society of Film Critics Award, best supporting actress, New York Critics Circle Award, and Famous Seven Critics Award, all 1969, and Golden Globe Award nomination, best supporting actress, 1970, all for Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Film Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1975, for How Green Was My Valley; TV Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Royal Television Society Award, both 1978, for I, Claudius; London stage award nomination, best actress in a musical, 1980, for Pal Joey; University of Wales, honorary fellow of University College, Cardiff, 1980, honorary D.Litt., 1983; TV Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1988, for Snow Spider; honorary fellow, Polytechnical College of Wales, 1988; TV Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1991, for The Chestnut Soldier; fellow, Welsh College of Music and Drama, 1992; Welsh Artist of the Year nomination, 1994, for Ghosts; Film Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1996, for House of America; honorary fellow, Trinity College, University of Glamorgan, and University of Wales, University College, Swansea, both 1998; Laurence Olivier Award nomination, best actress, Society of West End Theatre, 1998, Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best featured actress in a musical, and Drama Desk Award nomination, best actress in a musical drama, 1999, all for Marlene; Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 2000; Special Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Wales, 2001; Lifetime Achievement Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2001; honorary fellow, FRSA, 2002; Laurence Olivier Award nomination, best actress, for A Little Night Music; TV Award nominations, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for Shoulder to Shoulder and Emlyn's Moon; named to the Honorary Order of Druids.


Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Wren, The Longest Day, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1962.

Gwendolyn, Becket, Paramount, 1963.

Ella, Young Cassidy, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1965.

Lady Elizabeth More, Laughter in the Dark (also known as La chambre obscure), Lopert, 1968.

Ursula Mossbank, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1969.

Dr. Hayden, Murphy's War, Paramount, 1970.

Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, Under Milk Wood, Altura Films International, 1973.

Lady Ripon, Nijinsky, Paramount, 1980.

Queen Cassiopeia, Clash of the Titans, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1981.

Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Dune, Dino De Laurentiis/Universal, 1984.

Annabella Rock, The Doctor and the Devils, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985.

Madame de Volanges, Valmont, Orion, 1989.

Mrs. Sinico, A Painful Case, 1992.

Mrs. Archer, The Age of Innocence, Columbia, 1993.

Intent to Kill (also known as Mind to Kill), 1994.

Mam, House of America, Mayfair Entertainment, 1996.

(In archive footage) Check the Gate: Putting Beckett on Film (documentary), Amrbose Video Publishing, 2003.

Dal: Yma/Nawr (documentary; also known as Still: Here/Now), S4C International, 2004.

Baroness James, The Gigolos, 2005.

Television Appearances; Series:

Queen Boudicca, Warrior Queen (also known as Boudicca), Thames Television, 1978.

Sean O'Casey, RTV, 1980.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Emmeline Pankhurst, Shoulder to Shoulder, BBC, 1974, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1975.

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill, PBS, 1974.

Beth Morgan, How Green Was My Valley, BBC2, 1975–76, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1976.

Livia, I, Claudius, BBC2, 1976, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1977.

Lina Van Elyn, Off to Philadelphia in the Morning, BBC, 1978.

Leader of the Furies, Oresteia (also known as The Serpent Son), BBC, 1979.

Katerina Ivonovna, Crime and Punishment, BBC, 1979, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1980.

Ann Smiley, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, BBC-2, 1979, then broadcast on PBS, 1980.

Mrs. Dalgleish, Barriers, ITV, 1980.

Clementine Churchill, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (also known as Churchill: The Wilderness Years), Southern Television, 1981, then broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 1981.

Ann Smiley, Smiley's People, BBC2 and syndicated, 1982.

Isobel Makepeace, A Killing on the Exchange, 1987.

Miss Matilda Crawley, Vanity Fair, BBC, 1987, then Arts and Entertainment, 1988.

Nain Griffiths, Snow Spider, Harlech Television, 1988.

Nain Griffiths, Emlyn's Moon, 1990.

Narrator, "Red Empire," Time Machine with Jack Perkins (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1991.

Nain Griffiths, The Chestnut Soldier, 1991.

Mrs. Driver, The Borrowers, TNT, 1992.

Frau Sesemann, Heidi, The Disney Channel, 1993.

Mrs. Driver, The Return of the Borrowers (also known as The Borrowers), BBC, 1996.

Queen Eleanor, Ivanhoe (also known as Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe"), BBC and Arts and Entertainment, 1997.

Mathilda Gillespie, The Scold's Bridle, BBC1 and BBC America, 1998.

Meg Lewis, The Magician's House, BBC1 and CTV, 1999.

Narrator and the older Lady Emily, Aristocrats, BBC1 and PBS, 1999.

Meg Lewis, The Magician's House II, BBC, 2000.

Grandmother, Attila (also known as Attila the Hun), USA Network, 2001.

Marie Strickland, The Murder Room (also known as P. D. James' "The Murder Room"), BBC and PBS, 2004.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Kate Grant, The Other Man, Granada, 1964.

Thief, 1968.

Mrs. Alicia Moore, How Many Miles to Babylon?, BBC, 1982.

Charal, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (also known as Ewok II and Return to Endor), ABC, 1985.

Duchess of Windsor, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, NBC, 1987.

Mrs. Blessington, Incident at Dark River (also known as Dark River and Dark River—A Father's Revenge), 1990.

Daisy Barnett, The Black Candle, Tyne Tees Television, 1991.

Calypso, The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, BBC, 1995.

Red queen, Alice through the Looking Glass, HBO and Channel 4, 1998.

The Evil Baroness, Cinderella, ITV, 2000.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Title role, Siwan, BBC, 1960.

Lady Lavery, The Other World of Winston Churchill, NBC, 1964.

Eh, Joe?, BBC, 1966.

Martha Jones, The Vessel of Wrath (also known as W. Somerset Maugham: The Vessel of Wrath), BBC, 1970.

George Barrow (some sources say George Borrow), 1983.

Pyramid, PBS, 1988.

Backstage at Masterpiece Theatre: A 20th Anniversary Special, PBS, 1991.

"The Astonished Heart," "Hands across the Sea," and "Ways and Means," Collins Meets Coward, Arts and Entertainment, 1992.

Royal Television Annual Lecture (also known as The Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Lecture and Huw Wheldon), 1992.

Nearest and Dearest (musical in English), 1994.

Nearest and Dearest (musical in Welsh), 1994.

Narrator, The Mousehole Cat (short film), 1994.

Cabaret, 1999.

Herself, The Making of Aristocrats (documentary), BBC, 1999.

Ru, Come and Go (short film), 2000.

Narrator, Stalin: Inside the Terror (documentary), BBC, 2003.

Herself, The Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2003, ITV, 2003.

Narrator, Alec Guinness: A Secret Man (also known as Arena: Alec Guinness—A Secret Man), 2003.

Herself, Happy Birthday BBC Two, BBC, 2004.

Also appeared in The Achurch Papers; Language and Landscape; Summer Silence, Harlech Television; Beyond All Reason.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Anna, "A Free Agent," Espionage, ITV and NBC, 1964.

The Duchesse of Berwich, "Lady Windermere's Fan," Play of the Month, BBC, 1972.

"Heartbreak House," Play of the Month, BBC, 1977.

Mrs. Henska, "Carpathian Eagle," Hammer House of Horror, Associated Television, 1980.

"Back for Christmas," Tales of the Unexpected (also known as Roald Dahl's "Tales of the Unexpected"), ITV1 and syndicated, 1980.

"Under Milk Wood," The South Bank Show, ITV, 1988.

Ursuala Blythe, Freddie and Max, ITV, 1990.

"Ah, the Sisters of Mercy," Perfect Scoundrels, Television South, 1991.

Rachel Hardcastle, "Rachel Hardcastle," A Mind to Kill (also known as Yr Heliwr), Channel 5 and Channel 3, 1994.

Adrian, "Adrian's Garden," La femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Network, 1998.

Adrian, "End Game," La femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Network, 1998.

Adrian, "There Are No Missions," La femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Network, 2000.

Adrian, "View of the Garden," La femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Network, 2000.

Adrian, "Into the Looking Glass," La femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Network, 2000.

Herself, Ruby, BBC, 2000.

Conseula Dunphy, "One Reborn Every Minute," Ballykissangel, BBC1, 2001.

Conseula Dunsphy, "Getting Better All the Time," Ballykissangel, BBC1, 2001.

Vera Dulciman, "Moonlight," The Last Detective, ITV, 2003.

Herself, Breakfast, BBC, 2005.

Herself, "I, Claudius," Drama Connections, BBC, 2005.

Lady Annabel Butler, "Vixen's Run," Midsomer Murders, ITV and Arts and Entertainment, 2006.

Stage Appearances:

Masha, The Three Sisters, Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham, England, 1958.

Title role, Saint Joan, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, England, 1958.

Title role, Hedda Gabler, Duke of York's Theatre, London, 1959.

Princess Siwan, King's Daughter, Hampstead Theatre Club, London, 1959.

Katherine, The Taming of the Shrew, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, England, 1960.

Bertha, Ondine, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, London, 1960–61.

Julia, The Duchess of Malfi, Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldwych Theatre, 1960–61.

Arlow, The Lizard on the Rock, Phoenix Theatre, London, 1961.

Penelope, Gentle Jack, Queen's Theatre, London, 1964.

Yolande, Maxibules, Queen's Theatre, 1964.

Hannah Jelkes, The Night of the Iguana, Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon, England, 1964, and Savoy Theatre, London.

Myra, Ride a Cock Horse, Piccadilly Theatre, London, 1965.

Ann Whitefield, Man and Superman, New Art Theatre, then Vaudeville Theatre, later Garrick Theatre, all London, 1966.

Strange lady, The Man of Destiny, Mermaid Theatre, London, 1966.

Alma Winemiller, Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, England, 1967.

Edwina, The Burglar, Vaudeville Theatre, 1967.

Queen Juana, The Cardinal of Spain, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, 1969.

Ruth Grey, Epitaph for George Dillon, Young Vic Theatre, London, 1972.

Mrs. Elliot, Alpha Beta, Palace Theatre, Watford, England, 1973.

Virginia Woolf, A Nightingale in Bloomsbury Square, Hampstead Theatre Club, 1973.

Duchess of Strood, The Gay Lord Quex, Albery Theatre, London, 1975.

Countess, The Inconstant Couple, Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester, England, 1978.

Mrs. Arbuthnot, A Woman of No Importance, Chichester Festival Theatre, 1978.

Myra Evans, Spinechiller, Duke of York's Theatre, 1978.

Mrs. Clandon, You Never Can Tell, Lyric (Hammersmith) Theatre, London, 1979.

Pal Joey, Half Moon Theatre, London, 1980, then Albery Theatre, 1981.

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Dear Liar, Mermaid Theatre, 1982.

Major Barbara, National Theatre, London, 1983.

Peg, Phoenix Theatre, 1984.

Gigi, Lyric Theatre, 1985.

Thursday's Ladies, Apollo Theatre, London, 1987.

Brel, Donmar Theatre Warehouse, London, 1988.

Claire, Paris Match, Garrick Theatre, 1989.

Lucy Lucre, Vanilla, Lyric (Hammersmith) Theatre, 1990.

Mrs. Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate, Lyric (Hammersmith) Theatre, 1991.

Fanny Church, Painting Churches, Playhouse Theatre, London, 1992.

Ghosts, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Wales, 1994.

Marlene Dietrich (title role), Marlene, 1994, then Lyric Theatre, 1996, later Broadway production, New York City, 1999.

Madame Armfeldt, An Inspector Calls, Royale Theatre, New York City, 1995.

A Little Night Music, National Theatre, 1995–96.

Falling in Love Again, FireBird Upstairs Supperclub, New York City, 2000.

Vagina Monologues, London, 2001.

Mathilde Giffard, My Old Lady, Doolittle, Los Angeles, 2001–2002, then Promenade Theater, New York City, 2002.

The Old Ladies, 2003.

The Dark, Donmar Theatre Warehouse, 2004.

Quartet, Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, 2006.

Also appeared in I Remember Mama.

Major Tours:

Margaret Muir, The Holiday, U.K. cities, 1957.

Love Affair, U.K. cities, 1984.

Ghosts, Arts Council, Welsh cities, 1994.

The Lion in Winter, U.K. cities, 1994.

Marlene Dietrich, Marlene, British cities, 1996–97, South African cities, Irish cities, Paris, France, and other cities, all 1998.

Lettice and Lovage, U.K. cities, 2001.

The Unexpected Man, U.K. cities, 2005.


Cast Albums; Contributor:

Gigi, Safari, 1985.

Marlene, 1997.

Other cast albums include I Remember Mama, A Little Night Music (two versions), Pal Joey, and Peg.


Singles include "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered."

Taped Readings:

Voice of Katherine, The Taming of the Shrew, Living Shakespeare STS, 1962.



Sian Phillips' Needlepoint, Elm Tree Books, 1987.

Private Faces (autobiography), Hodder & Stoughton, 1999.

Public Places: The Autobiography, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.

Contributor to periodicals.



Birmingham Post, January 22, 2001, p. 12.

Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), February 20, 1997, p. 36.

Express (London), September 24, 2002, p. 33.

Guardian (London), October 3, 1997, p. 7; October 26, 2001, p. 19.

Independent (London), July 19, 2001, p. 12.

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 3, 2001, p. 12; February 10, 2003, p. 11.

About this article

Phillips, Sian 1934–

Updated About content Print Article