Julia Phillips


Producer

About

Also Known As
Julia Miller
Birth Place
New York, USA
Born
April 07, 1944
Died
January 01, 2002
Cause of Death
Cancer

Biography

As a producer in the early-to-mid 1970s, Julia Phillips helped shepherd some of the era's most iconic films to the big screen and consequently became the first woman to ever win an Academy Award as a producer. In partnership with her then-husband Michael Phillips, she made her debut with "Steelyard Blues" (1973) and at age 30 won the Oscar for producing "The Sting" (1973), one of the big...

Family & Companions

Michael Phillips
Husband
Producer. Married in 1966; divorced in August 1975.

Bibliography

"Drudge Manifesto"
Matt Drudge and Julia Phillips (2000)
"Driving Under the Affluence"
Julia Phillips, HarperCollins (1995)
"You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again"
Julia Phillips, Random House (1991)

Biography

As a producer in the early-to-mid 1970s, Julia Phillips helped shepherd some of the era's most iconic films to the big screen and consequently became the first woman to ever win an Academy Award as a producer. In partnership with her then-husband Michael Phillips, she made her debut with "Steelyard Blues" (1973) and at age 30 won the Oscar for producing "The Sting" (1973), one of the biggest hits of the decade. Phillips went on to produce "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), only to derail her promising young career with a serious cocaine addiction that stretched well into the 1980s. Her addiction was so debilitating that Phillips rarely produced again and virtually disappeared from the industry into a haze of freebasing and abusive relationships. In 1991, however, Phillips emerged clean and sober, but still as caustic as ever with her tell-all memoir You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, which detailed her rapid rise and fall while managing to alienate a wide swath of celebrities, whose embarrassing behind-the-scenes details were given public viewing. The book became a New York Times bestseller, but at the price of Phillips' permanently ended Hollywood career. Even after her death from cancer in 2002, Phillips had - deservedly or not - maintained the reputation as being the most hated woman in Hollywood.

Born on April 7, 1944 in New York City, Phillips was raised in Brooklyn, Long Island and later Milwaukee by her father, Adolph Miller, who worked on the Manhattan Project, and her mother, Tanya, a manic depressive who was addicted to pills. She later attended Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she did poorly in subjects like math and French, but won the Phi Beta Kappa Award for creative writing. After graduating Holyoke in 1965 with her bachelor's degree, where she met future husband Michael Phillips, she worked as a production assistant at McCall's magazine and went on to become a textbook advertising copywriter for Macmillan Publications. Phillips spent the next four years working for Ladies Home Journal, where she was an editorial assistant and later the associate editor. In 1969, she entered the film industry as an East Coast story editor at Paramount Pictures, and the following year Phillips headed Mirisch Productions before becoming a creative executive at First Artists Productions, both of which were based in New York.

.Branching out on her own in the early 1970s, Phillips formed Bill/Phillips Productions with her husband, Michael, and actor Tony Bill, and set about producing movies in Hollywood. She earned her first producer credit on "Steelyard Blues" (1973), a quirky, anti-establishment comedy starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. That same year, Phillips had her biggest hit as a producer with "The Sting" (1973), a witty crime comedy starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con artists who operate a sting against a powerful mob boss (Robert Shaw) as revenge for murdering their friend. A cultural touchstone, "The Sting" was one of the biggest hits of the early 1970s and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. For her part, Phillips became the first ever woman to win an Oscar as a producer. Meanwhile, Phillips and her husband followed up with "The Big Bus" (1976), an off-kilter disaster flick spoof starring Stockard Channing, Ned Betty, Ruth Gordon, Larry Hagman and Lynn Redgrave. Despite predating "Airplane!" (1980) and "The Naked Gun" series, "The Big Bus" was a flop that remained largely forgotten.

Phillips bounced back by shepherding one of the era's most disturbing and influential films, "Taxi Driver" (1976), which starred Robert De Niro as a Vietnam War veteran-turned-New York cab driver who goes on a vigilante spree and saves an 11-year-old prostitute (Jody Foster) from her pimp (Harvey Kietel). Once again, Phillips had a Best Picture nomination, though she ultimately came away empty handed. By this point in her career, Phillips had developed a serious cocaine addiction that ultimately derailed her career after producing "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), from which she was fired during post-production. Just like that, Phillips went into a career tailspin from which she would never recover. She did produce "The Beat" (1988) later in her career, but by that point she was washed up and had virtually fallen off the map. But Phillips soon became the talk of the town - and not in a good way - when she published her tell-all memoirs, You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again (1991), a no-holds barred look at her life and career in Hollywood.

Though she was harshest on herself, Phillips spared no one from her unrelenting fury at the Boys Club mentality of show business while outing numerous celebrities for a wide array of peccadilloes, including Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, Richard Dreyfuss and Martin Scorsese. The scandalous tome - which was toned down to 500 pages after being turned in as a 1,000-page manuscript - effectively ended her career and even had her permanently banned from Morton's steakhouse, her favorite place to lunch. But it was a huge bestseller and topped the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller List for 13 straight weeks. In fact, the book was so damaging to her career that one anonymous producer called it "the longest suicide note in history." She soon followed up with a second book, Driving Under the Influence (1995), which covered the reaction she received to her previous book. Just a few years later, on Jan. 1, 2002, Phillips died in West Hollywood, CA, from cancer at 57 years old, leaving behind the ashes of many bridges burned.

By Shawn Dwyer

Life Events

1965

Worked as editorial assistant, then associate editor, "Ladies Home Journal"

1969

Entered film industry as East Coast story editor at Paramount Pictures

1970

Headed Mirisch Productions in New York

1970

Formed Bill/Phillips Productions with then-husband Michael Phillips and actor Tony Bill

1971

Became creative executive at First Artists Productions, New York

1971

Founded and was president, Ruthless Productions, Los Angeles

1973

First film as producer, "Steelyard Blues"

1973

Became first female producer to share in the Best Picture Oscar with "The Sting"

1974

Directorial debut, "The Estate of Billy Buckner" (for AFI's Women Directors Workshop)

1976

Was a producer on Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver"

1977

Worked as a producer on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; last film for a decade

1987

Made one-shot return to feature film producing with "The Beat"

1991

Published controversial memoir, "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again"

1999

Was subject of an "E! True Hollywood Story"

Videos

Movie Clip

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) - Can You Tell Me Where Cornbread Is? On the first night of blackouts sweeping across Indiana, lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) encounters director Steven Spielberg’s gimmick with the headlights, and a famous sequence from special effects expert Douglas Trumbull, in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 1977.
Steelyard Blues (1973) - You Ain't Even Dangerous Opening in jail, Melvin Stewart the inmate harassing top-billed Donald Sutherland, whom we learn has been a demolition derby driver, among other things, from Steelyard Blues, also starring Jane Fonda, an early effort from the prolific TV director and professor Alan Myerson.
Steelyard Blues (1973) - Where There Ain't No Jails Veldini (Donald Sutherland), just out of jail, with his crew (Jane Fonda as girlfriend Iris, John Savage his younger brother, Peter Boyle his often-institutionalized pal “Eagle”) visiting mechanic-thief Duval (Garry Goodrow), who’s proposing they rehabilitate a “flying boat” plane, in Steelyard Blues, 1973.
Steelyard Blues (1973) - Put Your Thing On The Table Just-paroled Veldini (Donald Sutherland) visits his hooker girlfriend Iris (Jane Fonda) on the job, Roger Bowen her “John,” having a laugh, early in Steelyard Blues, 1973, co-starring Peter Boyle, John Savage and Howard Hesseman.
Taxi Driver (1976) - Put Your Glasses On First scene for Albert Brooks as Tom and first speaking scene for Cybil Shepherd as Betsy, at the campaign office, certainly the funniest piece of Paul Schrader’s script, Robert DeNiro as title character Travis Bickle lurking outside, in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, 1976.
Taxi Driver (1976) - You Talkin' To Me? Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in his apartment rehearsing, with profanity, in the most famous scene from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, 1976, from Paul Schrader's screenplay.
Taxi Driver (1976) - Opening, Travis Hypnotic opening sequence featuring Bernard Hermann music, and Travis (Robert De Niro) applying for a job with a fellow ex-Marine (Joe Spinell) in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, 1976.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) - Don't Get Creative Following weird events in Mexico, at Indianapolis air traffic control and in rural Muncie, we meet Indiana power company lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr his wife Ronnie), called in to help with mass blackouts, early in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 1977.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) - At Devil's Tower First Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), taking a break to beg his wife to come home, then Jillian (Melinda Dillon), see TV news reports identifying the mountain with which they’ve both been obsessed with since their UFO experiences, in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 1977.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Family

Adolph Miller
Father
Deceased.
Tanya Miller
Mother
Deceased.
Matthew Miller
Brother
Survived her.
Kate Phillips
Daughter
Born on October 7, 1973; survived her.

Companions

Michael Phillips
Husband
Producer. Married in 1966; divorced in August 1975.

Bibliography

"Drudge Manifesto"
Matt Drudge and Julia Phillips (2000)
"Driving Under the Affluence"
Julia Phillips, HarperCollins (1995)
"You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again"
Julia Phillips, Random House (1991)