Sian Philips – a dramatic life with few regrets

  The effortlessly elegant Sian Phillips, now 90 years old, has been opening up about her life and marriage to Peter O’Toole on the eve of a new Welsh documentary celebrating her remarkable life and career. Her most notable role was in I, Claudius playing the murderous Empress Livia, but others such as playing Clementine Churchill and starring opposite Alec Guinness in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are equally memorable.

  What is extraordinary is that she had to put her career on hold for two decades since O’Toole could not cope with a successful working wife. Eventually his drinking drove her to the brink and she had an affair to force him to let her go. He never spoke to her again.

  She was born 14 May 1933 and is a charming Sun Venus in Taurus with her Sun in a downbeat square to Saturn and her Venus square a showbizzy Mars Neptune in Virgo. Her Moon is probably Capricorn.

  Her Sun Venus was conjunct O’Toole’s Ascendant so she was an asset for his image and it had the potential to be a positive bond. Her Moon may also have been on his Midheaven. Born 2 August 1932 12.20 am Leeds, England, he had a domestically-controlling Pluto on his IC in an unpredictable square to a 12th house Uranus. He had a New Moon in Leo in his 4th opposition a 10th house Saturn making him rigid in his attitudes as he battled self-doubt, which no doubt contributed to his drinking. His rages were evidently volcanic.

  He sounds a touch like Paul Newman who had an Aquarius Sun square a 10th house Saturn and who also pulled his talented wife Joanne Woodward back from the career she might have had.

 Sian Phillips relationship chart with O’Toole had a prominent composite Mars opposition Saturn which occurs in relationships where only one partner is allowed to be assertive and have an identity. The other has to submit causing festering resentment. Similarly Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s relationship chart had a composite Mars Saturn square. Both these relationships also had yods, bringing a fated/meant quality to the connection.

  Sian Phillips went on to marry Robin Sachs, 5 February 1951, who was 19 years younger and it lasted for a decade. His Aquarius Sun was conjunct her Saturn with his Pluto in opposition – so a tough match. His Pluto was also square her Sun. She said later that marriage was not her thing and she had been hasty rushing into it.

  Looking back she said she was scared of O’Toole but would probably do it again if she had the chance.

  A lovely, talented actress with presence.

5 thoughts on “Sian Philips – a dramatic life with few regrets

  1. I Claudius is one of the greatest productions ever and she was fantastic. David Chase of Sopranos fame was a big fan and it’s why he chose to name Tony Soprano’s mother, Livia. A great bond to another of the greatest shows ever imo…

  2. Sian Philips has always been memorable. My favourite roles of her in I Claudius and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

    But the earliest recollection was in the 1969 version of Goodbye Mr Chips, where she played the wonderful Ursula Moss.

    I also remember it as my dad refused to point blank go as he couldn’t bear to sit for two hours listening to ‘Little Miss One Note’ sing. He was referring Petuls Clark, so apologies to her fans. Anyway she played opposite Peter O’Toole who was Mr Chips. But for me Sian stole the show! Hope everyone has a wonderful 2024!

  3. Remember watching ‘I, Claudius’ as a kid with my Dad! She’s an amazing actress. I notice she has a ton of Earth and surely that Moon is in Capricorn – she has the most striking and beautiful bone structure. I wonder, can Mars/Neptune in a woman’s chart make her vulnerable to manipulative men?

  4. I love her. I also remember her role in La Femme Nikita, probably a very minor, but nonetheless memorable, contribution to her opus.

    Another article where I never really knew the life story it describes. So interesting and tragic in a way.

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