Siân Phillips

Active - 1962 - 2020  |   Born - Jan 1, 1934   |   Genres - Drama, Children's/Family, Historical Film

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Actress Sian Phillips was performing on BBC radio's Welsh-language service at the age of 11. Phillips made her first British television appearance at 17; one year later, she won a Welsh acting award, which paid her way through RADA. She made her London stage debut in 1957, in a charity production of Hedda Gabler. From 1959 through 1979, Sian was the wife of actor Peter O'Toole, with whom she appeared in the 1964 film Becket and the 1969 movie musical Goodbye Mr. Chips. Almost too dynamic for "average" roles, Sian was an unforgettable Livia in the PBS miniseries I, Claudius, and brought a properly mystical bearing to her otherworldly characters in the film fantasies Clash of the Titans (1981) and Dune (1984). Her instinctive regality served her well as narrator of the 1967 documentary The Other World of Mr. Churchill and as the Duchess of Windsor in the made-for-TV The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1983). A more grounded-in-reality Sian was seen as Ann Smiley in the 1982 miniseries Smiley's People; most recently, she was the American aristocrat Mrs. Archer in The Age of Innocence (1993). A favorite daughter of her home country, Sian Phillips has served in the Welsh Arts Council and as a governor of the National Theatre of Wales, and has received the Welsh theatre world's ultimate accolade: a membership in the Honorary Order of Druids.

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