Phillips Holmes

Phillips Holmes (July 22, 1907 – August 12, 1942) was an American film actor who appeared in 44 films between 1928 and 1938.

Phillips Holmes
Holmes in 1933
Born(1907-07-22)July 22, 1907
DiedAugust 12, 1942(1942-08-12) (aged 35)
Ontario, Canada
Cause of deathmid-air collision
Resting placeGate of Heaven Cemetery
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
University of Grenoble
Princeton University
Years active1918-1938

Early life, education and career

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Edna Phillips and stage star Taylor Holmes, Holmes enjoyed a privileged childhood and received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, the University of Grenoble and a year at Princeton University where he was spotted in the undergraduate crowd during the filming of Frank Tuttle's Varsity in 1928 and offered a screen test.[1] In the early 1930s he became a popular leading man, playing leads in a few important productions, notably in Josef von Sternberg's An American Tragedy (1931).

At Paramount, he starred in melodrama and comedy. In 1933 his contract with Paramount ran out and he moved to MGM for one year. As the decade progressed, Holmes' career declined, and he appeared in a few box-office failures, including Sam Goldwyn's poorly received Nana (1934).[2] His last American movie was General Spanky (1936). In 1938 he appeared in two UK movies. Housemaster was his last film. Then he returned to acting on stage in the United States.


In 1933, Holmes was driving with actress Mae Clarke when he crashed into a parked car.[3] Clarke, who suffered a broken jaw and facial cuts, sued Holmes for US$21,500 (equivalent to $416,127 in 2018), claiming that he had been driving while drunk.[3] Clarke dropped the suit when Holmes agreed to pay her medical expenses.[3]

Military service and death

At the start of World War II, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was killed in a mid-air collision in northwest Ontario, Canada.[4][5]


Holmes has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Partial filmography

See also


  1. "Phillips Holmes '30  Going Hollywood and After" (PDF format). Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume 31, Autumn 1969.
  2. "Phillips Holmes". Speakeasy. 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  3. Mank, Gregory William (2005-05-17). Women in Horror Films, 1930s. McFarland. ISBN 9780786423347.
  4. Buller, Richard P. (2005). A Beautiful Fairy Tale: The Life of Actress Lois Moran. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879103125.
  5. Database (undated). "Phillips Holmes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
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