Friend went to Bradfield College where he became interested in acting. He began appearing in musical comedies in 1935, and was soon working on the West End. He was in a production of French Without Tears that was on Broadway. He returned to London and was busy on the stage until war broke out after which he joined the Royal Fusiliers.
He was in Dangerous Moonlight (1941), 'Pimpernel' Smith (1941), Sheepdog of the Hills (1941), Back-Room Boy (1942), The Day Will Dawn (1942), The Next of Kin (1942), In Which We Serve (1942), The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), and We Dive at Dawn (1943).
Friend had bigger parts in The Bells Go Down (1943) with Tommy Trinder, Warn That Man (1943) with Gordon Harker and The Flemish Farm (1943), and could be seen in Two Thousand Women (1944). He had a decent sized role in Great Day (1945).
Friend returned to the stage with Pink String and Sealing Wax and The First Gentleman.
In February 1946 Friend signed a contract with David O. Selznick who brought the actor to Hollywood. Selznick wound up not using Friend in any of his films.
Friend was a British soldier in Sword in the Desert (1949) at Universal. They liked his work and signed him to a contract, casting him in the lead of Buccaneer's Girl (1950) with Yvonne de Carlo. Friend was kept at Universal for Panther's Moon (1951), then the studio dropped him. They hired him back to play the villain in Smuggler's Island (1951). He was in Thunder on the Hill (1951).
Friend began appearing on TV in such shows as The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Kraft Theatre. On Broadway he was meant to join the cast of Faithfully Yours but Equity objected. Instead he starred in Jane in 1952.
Return to Britain
Friend returned home to be in Desperate Moment (1953). He had support roles in Background (1952), The Diamond (1954), Dick Turpin: Highwayman (1956), Cloak Without Dagger (1956) and The Betrayal (1956). He also appeared regularly on British TV shows such as The Errol Flynn Theatre.
One of his last appearances was in the TV movie Suez 1956 (1979).
Friend was married to the actress Eileen Erskine, and they had two sons.
- Inquest (1939)
- The Midas Touch (1940)
- "Pimpernel" Smith (1941)
- The Day Will Dawn (1942)
- The Next of Kin (1942)
- In Which We Serve (1942)
- The Bells Go Down (1943)
- Warn That Man (1943)
- Enchantment (1948)
- Sword in the Desert (1949)
- Buccaneer's Girl (1950)
- Smuggler's Island (1951)
- Desperate Moment (1953)
- Background (1953)
- The Diamond (1954)
- Cloak Without Dagger (1956)
- The Betrayal (1957)
- The Son of Robin Hood (1958)
- The Solitary Child (1958)
- Danger List (1959)
- The Fur Collar (1962)
- "Philip Friend". BFI.
- Round the British Studios Nepean, Edith. Picture Show; London Vol. 60, Iss. 1555, (17 January 1953): 11
- "English Star Signs Selznick Contract – Philip Friend, Leading Man on Stage and Screen, to Come to Hollywood Soon Of Local Origin". New York Times. 12 February 1946. p. 29. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
- U-I Recaptures Philip Substitute in Debate Friend; Judy Garland Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times. 20 June 1950: A7.
- "Accents to be Americanised'". The Mail. 40 (1, 983). South Australia. 3 June 1950. p. 7 (Sunday Magazine). Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Film Reviews". The Newcastle Sun (11, 274). New South Wales, Australia. 16 August 1954. p. 14. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Drama: Philip Friend Will Star in 'Highwayman;' Wilde Prepares Scripts Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times. 10 February 1951: 11.
- Zolotow, Sam (12 October 1951). "Krakeur Accedes to Equity Demand: Bourneuf Will Take Over Role in 'Faithfully Yours,' Starting Tuesday, Instead of Friend Washington Meeting Rumored "Howe & Hummel" Promised Eleanor Lynn Leaving Show to Act in a Musical". New York Times. p. 33. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
- The Theatre: Behrman and Maugham Wall Street Journal New York, N.Y. 4 Feb 1952: 4.