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Siân Phillips, CBE (pronounced , born Jane Elizabeth Ailwên Phillips; 14 May 1933) is a Welsh actress.

Early life

Phillips was born in Betwsmarker, Ammanfordmarker, Walesmarker, the daughter of Sally (née Thomas), a teacher, and David Phillips, a steelworker-turned-policeman. She is a Welsh-speaker: in the first volume of her autobiography (Private Faces) she notes that she spoke only Welsh for much of her childhood, learning English by listening to the radio.


Phillips has made many films and television programmes, but is probably best-known for her role as Livia in the BBC adaptation of Robert Graves' novel, I, Claudius (BBC2, 1976) and for many appearances on the original run of Call My Bluff. She also appeared opposite Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton in Becket (1964); as Ursula Mossbank in the musical film Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) again starring Peter O'Toole; once more opposite O'Toole in Murphy's War (1971); as Emmeline Pankhurst in the TV mini-series Shoulder to Shoulder (1974); as Ann, the unfaithful wife of Alec Guinness's character George Smiley, in the BBC1 espionage dramas Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) and Smiley's People (1982), adapted from John le Carré's novels of the same names; in Nijinsky (1980); and as the queen Cassiopeia in Clash of the Titans (1981). Another popular role was that of the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch's Dune (1984). Her most recent film is The Gigolos (2006) by Richard Bracewell, in which she plays Lady James.

Phillips' West Endmarker credits include Pal Joey, Gigi, A Little Night Music, and Marlene, in which she portrayed Marlene Dietrich. She has also appeared on the American stage in Marlene.

In June 2000, she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. She is also a leading light in Social, Welsh and Sexy (SWS), the London-based organisation for Welsh socialites.

Siân provided spoken word backing to a track on Rufus Wainwright's 2007 album Release the Stars, and appeared live with him at the Old Vic Theatremarker in London on 31 May/1 June 2007.

Phillips starred in London's West End production of Calendar Girls.

Personal life

She married Peter O'Toole and they had two daughters, Patricia and Kate (b. 1961). They subsequently divorced. She wrote about this tempestuous period of her life in the second volume of her autobiography, Public Places. She later married British actor Robin Sachs, from whom she is also now divorced. She continues to be a patron of the Bird College of Dance, Music & Theatre Performancemarker, which is based in Sidcupmarker, Kentmarker.


  1. GRO Register of Births: JUN 1933 11a 1644 LLANDILOFAWR - Jane E. A. Phillips, mmn = Thomas
  2. BBC - South West Wales - Hall of Fame
  3. Sian Phillips Biography
  4. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008

External links

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