Leslie Phillips

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Leslie Samuel Phillips, CBE (born 20 April 1924) is a BAFTA-nominated English actor. Originally known for work as a comedy actor, Phillips has appeared in character roles subsequently.


Early life

Contrary to his public persona, Phillips came from a background of poverty. He was born in Tottenham, North London, England, the son of Cecelia Margaret (née Newlove) and Frederick Samuel Phillips,[2] who worked at Glover and Main, manufacturers of cookers in Edmonton, London; the 'filthy, sulphurous' air of the factory gave him a weak heart and dropsy, leading to his death at the age of 44. In 1931, the family moved to Chingford, London where Phillips attended primary school.[3]

It was his mother who decided that Phillips should be sent to the Italia Conti Academy to receive elocution lessons in order to lose his natural cockney accent. At that time a strong regional accent from any city was a major impediment to an aspiring actor. It proved to be an astute move and by the age of 14 Phillips was the family's main breadwinner, saving his mother from squalor.


Phillips made his first film appearances as a child in the 1930s. He is the only actor still alive who performed at Pinewood Studios during the week it opened in 1936. He also understudied for Binkie Beaumont and H.M Tennent in the West End. In 1938, 14-year-old Leslie Phillips appeared with Graeme Muir in the West End play Dear Octopus where Muir was the juvenile lead. During the Second World War shows were frequently interrupted by air-raid sirens and Phillips recalls in his autobiography that 'audiences would evaporate and head for cellars or Underground stations'.

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