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Siân Phillips Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (19) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 14 May 1933Bettws, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
Birth NameJane Elizabeth Ailwên Phillips
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Veteran stage actress Sian Phillips is forever identified on television as the tarantula mother/empress Livia in the classic BBC series I, Claudius (1976), and as the Reverend Mother in the science fiction epic film Dune (1984). Her broad range of roles went from endearing to downright deadly.

Phillips was born Jane Elizabeth Ailwên Phillips in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, West Glamorgan, Wales, to Sally (Thomas), a teacher, and David Phillips, a steelworker and policeman. Sian was brought up bilingual in both English and Welsh and performed on the Welsh radio station at age 11. She toured extensively for the Arts Council in Wales, in original Welsh plays and in translations from the English classics, before becoming an award-winning television actress in her late teens. She attended the University of Wales and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, making her London debut as Hedda Gabler in 1957. She met and married actor Peter O'Toole two years later and appeared frequently with him on stage, including "Ride a Cock Horse" (1965) and "Man and Superman" (1965), and in the movies Becket (1964), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Murphy's War (1971) and Under Milk Wood (1972).

While her resonant voice served her well as an announcer, newsreader and narrator at different stages of her career, her severe chiseled looks and arch, regal bearing has entitled her to perform some of the more notable classics, with critically-acclaimed turns in "Saint Joan", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "The Duchess of Malfi", being just a few. Her occasional aristocrats have also graced such well-mounted films as Young Cassidy (1965), Nijinsky (1980) and The Age of Innocence (1993). After 20 years of marriage, Sian divorced O'Toole, known for his hard-living ways. Since then, she has continued to delve into her stage work. In the 1980s, Sian began a new phase of her career -- the musical. Her participation in such productions as "Pal Joey" (her musical debut), "Gigi" and "A Little Night Music" ultimately led to her acclaimed one-woman cabaret show "Marlene", a tribute to legendary Marlene Dietrich, which opened to rave reviews in London in 1997. Two years later, she won a Tony Award nomination for this role on Broadway. She was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Robin Sachs (24 December 1979 - 1991) (divorced)
Peter O'Toole (December 1959 - 14 August 1979) (divorced) (2 children)
Don Roy (1956 - 1959) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

Arch, regal bearing
Severe chiseled looks
Husky resonant voice
Regal smooth voice

Trivia (19)

Has two daughters with Peter O'Toole: Pat O'Toole and Kate O'Toole.
Speaks Cymraeg (Welsh).
Finally got her driver's license, but never drives due to her nerves.
She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.
Served on the Welsh National Council and as a governor of the National Theatre of Wales, and received Wales' highest theatrical honor -- membership in the Honorary Order of Druids -- in recognition of her services to Welsh drama.
She was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Musical of 1997 season for her performance in "Marlene".
Became an Associate Member of RADA.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1999 Tony Award a Best Actress (Musical) for portraying Marlene Dietrich in "Marlene".
Although she played George Baker's mother in I, Claudius (1976), she is actually two years his junior.
She played Livia, the wife of the first Roman Emperor Augustus, in I, Claudius (1976) whereas her ex-husband Peter O'Toole played Augustus in Imperium: Augustus (2003).
She played Mrs. Patrick Campbell in Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (1974) and Lady Clementine Churchill in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981). The former's second husband George Cornwallis-West had previously been married to Winston Churchill's mother Lady Randolph Churchill whereas the latter was Churchill's wife.
She played the Roman Empress Livia between the ages of 34 (in 23 B.C.) and 86 (in 29 A.D.) in I, Claudius (1976).
Appeared in four films with husband Peter O'Toole: Becket (1964), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Murphy's War (1971) and Under Milk Wood (1972). Played the mother of her real-life daughter Kate O'Toole in Laughter in the Dark (1969), their only joint venture.
Her two former husbands, Peter O'Toole and Robin Sachs, died in the same year.
Appeared in David Lynch's Dune with Patrick Stewart, who she'd previously appeared with in I Claudius.
Performing in "The Importance of Being Earnest", Trafalgar Studios, London 2014.
She was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to drama. She is an actress in London, England.
Made a Dame of The British Empire (DBE) in the Queen's 2015 /2016 New Year's Honours List.
As well as being nominated for both a Tony and Olivier award for 'Marlene', Dame Sian has also received two further Olivier nominations for 'Cabaret' and 'A Little Night Music'.

Personal Quotes (2)

Upon receiving her C.B.E. in 2000, "I still have a very heavy schedule. I haven't been off the stage for the last seven years - and at weekends, I appear in cabaret."
[on playing Madame Armfeldt in "A Little Night Music in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in 2010, some 15 years after first playing the role in London]: Fifteen years later the idea of mortality isn't as academic. The part is short, but quite tricky technically. There's never time to build. You have to come on and hit the right note in each scene precisely. And you have to figure out who she is. She has grand style, and also such spite and venom. She's so successful, so glittering and hard, but then at the end she wonders if she played everything wrong. I don't think I got all that the first time.

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