What is Leslie Phillips best known for today? This question may be difficult to answer given Phillips’s varied career and recent health problems. He’s 75 years old, owns three luxurious homes, and is married to a beautiful young woman.
But there’s a lot more to the man than just his flamboyant public persona. Aside from being the quintessential loveable rogue, Phillips is an accomplished writer and artist who has worked with some of the greatest artists and performers of all time.
Born on 30 May 1948, Phillips rose to fame in the 1950s, when he appeared in radio shows and television series. He played upper-class characters in movies such as Doctor and Carry On. He also played a major role in sitcoms such as Casanova ’73 and The Navy Lark. His work on television has been recognized by many awards, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
At the London Palladium, Phillips made his theatrical debut in 1937 as a wolf in Peter Pan opposite Anna Neagle. He received a promotion to play John Napoleon Darling in the 1938–1939 season, opposite Jean Forbes–Robertson as Peter and Seymour Hicks as Captain Hook.
Phillips was able to use acting to supplement his family’s meager income after his father’s passing.
Phillips worked on the West End for Theatre Royal Haymarket during the early years of the Second World War for Binkie Beaumont and H. M. Tennent. Phillips subsequently claimed that “audiences would disappear and head for cellars or Underground stations” when air-raid sirens periodically stopped the performances.
In the Royal Artillery, Phillips advanced to the rank of lance-bombardier before being called up to the British Army in 1942. Phillips was chosen for officer training at Catterick because of his acquired upper class accent, and he was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1943.