Philips majored in creative writing and after graduation (Class of 1950) he married another Adelphi graduate
and actress Jean Allison but were
later divorced amicably.
As sober, good-looking dramatic actor, this Navy veteran's acting career started on Broadway where in Jan 1954 he made his debut with an understudy role with Mademoiselle Colombe which was short-lived. (Jan 06. 1954 - Feb 27. 1954). In Wedding Breakfast he replaced Anthony Franciosa (from Jan. 11 1955 until closing in Feb 26. 1955). He had some success whilst performing as the husband in Broadway's Middle of the Night (Feb 08. 1956 - May 25. 1957). His popularity really peaked when he played Dr. Michael Rossi in Lana Turner's film version of Peyton Place (1957). No with any difficulty. Turner's lover at the time, the notorious Johnny Stompanato, would stand behind the camera and intently watch the actress during her scenes with Lee Philips.
Philips met his wife Barbara Schrader when she was a production assistant on the TV's Appointment with Adventure ("Devil Beast"- Mar 25. 1956) on which he was appearing. He appeared in a Off-Broadway play on Dec 18. called U.S.A. (5) and married a few days later on Dec 23. 1956. On Oct. 9 1957 their first daughter Caitlin Meg was born. Both Philips and his wife were devoted to the poetry of Dylan Thomas and chose Thomas' wife name for their daughter.
Past the halfway point of The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen series (1958), he took over as Ellery Queen. Philips played Ellery as a man of awareness and compassion, substantially closer to the original concepts. Using only original scripts the show was produced on videotape rather than live and the title was shortened to Ellery Queen.
In 1959 he again appeared in his Broadway success Middle of the Night, this time on the movie screen opposite Kim Novak.
Above left: Lee Philips on the set of "A Girl named Daisy" (03/27/1959) episode of TV series The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen.
Above right: Candid photo of Lee Philips showing his daughter Julie (ca.1960)
On Aug 14. 1960 another daughter Julie Amanda was born just as his career shifted towards directing, with credits ranging from the television series of Peyton Place to The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961).
Occasionally he still did some acting, in 1963 he appeared in "Never Wave Goodbye", a two-part episode of The Fugitive. Also in 1963, he played a lead role in "Passage on the Lady Anne", an hour-long episode of The Twilight Zone; he returned to the show the following year in the episode "Queen of the Nile", where he plays a reporter named Jordan 'Jordy' Herrick.
Above left: Lee Philips as Dr. Ray Brooks in The Fugitive episode "Never Wave Goodbye" airdate, Oct 8. 1963.
Above right: In the Twilight Zone episode "Queen of the Nile" we see Lee opposite Ann Blyth (1964).
He appeared in Flipper in 1964 and also made two guest appearances on Perry Mason in 1965: as Kevin Lawrence in "The Case of the Golden Venom," and murderer Gordon Evans in "The Case of the Fatal Fortune."
Also guest starred on the Combat!: episode: "A Walk with an Eagle".
Let's not forget The Andy Griffith Show for which he directed a whopping 60 episodes (1965-1968).
Philips joined the durable M*A*S*H (1972) where he remained for several years and again directed Farrell, who played one of the series' irreverent Army surgeons on the front lines in the Korean War. In 1973 he directed The Girl Most Likely to... starring Stockard Channing.
Other series of which Philips directed episodes included The Waltons, The Practice, The American Girls, Salvage 1, Lottery!. For the 1972-73 Emmy for Director of a Drama Series for a Single Program he was nominated the The Waltons episode "The Love Story".
Above left: Lee Philips as George in "Double Trouble" (1969) an episode from The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.
Above right: Whilst directing it Lee Philips did a cameo as Minister on "Shivaree", an episode from the Waltons (1975).
On Dec 31. 1980, Lee and Barbara were divorced ending a 24 year long marriage.
Philips also directed dozens of television movies and such miniseries as Sidney Sheldon's Windmills of the Gods in 1988 and James A. Michener's Space in 1985. Among his made-for-TV movies were Silent Movie, Barnum, American Geisha, Samson and Delilah, Mae West, Wanted: The Sundance Woman and Louis Armstrong--Chicago Style.
More recently he directed Dick Van Dyke on several episodes of Diagnosis: Murder (1995).
Philips died in his Brentwood home from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) just past his 72nd birthday on March 3. 1999.
Additional video & audio sources
(1) The Twilight Zone: “Queen of the Nile”
(2) 12 Angry Men - Original Live TV Version 1954 (Full version)
(3) The Ghost & Mrs Muir - Season2_04 - Double Trouble
This actor profile is a part of the
Ellery Queen a website on deduction.
The actor above played Ellery Queen in the
1958 TV series of
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Page first published on July 1. 2017
Last updated November 5. 2022
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