Julia Phillips

Julia Phillips
Julia Miller

(1944-04-07)April 7, 1944
Died January 1, 2002(2002-01-01) (aged 57)
Occupation Film producer, author
( m. 1966⁠–⁠1974)
Children Kate Phillips-Wiczyk
Parent(s) Tanya and Adolph Miller

Julia Phillips (April 7, 1944 – January 1, 2002) was an American film producer and author. She co-produced with her husband, Michael (and others), three prominent films of the 1970s — The Sting, Taxi Driver, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind — and was the first female producer to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, for The Sting.

In 1991, Phillips published an infamous tell-all memoir of her years as a Hollywood producer, entitled You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, which became a bestseller.

Early life

Born Julia Miller to a Polish Jewish family[1][2] in New York City, the daughter of Tanya and Adolph Miller.[1] Her father was a chemical engineer[1] who worked on the Manhattan Project;[1] her mother was a writer who became addicted to prescription drugs.[1] She grew up in Brooklyn, Great Neck, New York, and Milwaukee.[2] In 1965, she received a bachelor's degree in political science from Mount Holyoke College and in 1966, she married Michael Phillips. After school, she worked as book section editor at the Ladies' Home Journal and then as a story editor for Paramount Pictures.[2] In 1971, she and her husband, who had been a securities analyst for two years, moved to California to produce their first film, Steelyard Blues with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, released in 1973.[3]

Film career

In 1972,[4] Phillips along with her husband, Michael Phillips, and producer Tony Bill commissioned David S. Ward to write the screenplay, The Sting,[2] for $3,500.[3] In 1973, The Sting won the Academy Award for Best Picture and made Phillips the first woman to win an Oscar as a producer (an award shared by Tony Bill and Phillips' then-husband Michael Phillips). In 1977, Taxi Driver, produced by the Phillipses, was nominated for Best Picture. Her third major film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was produced with Michael Phillips. One of the film's stars, François Truffaut, publicly criticized Phillips as incompetent, a charge she rejected, writing that she had essentially nursed Truffaut through his self-created nightmare of implied hearing loss, sickness and chaos during the production.[5] Phillips was also a notorious drug user (cocaine especially), which she herself chronicled in detail in her memoirs. The side-effects of cocaine addiction caused her to be fired from Close Encounters of the Third Kind during post-production.[6] Periods of drug abuse, gratuitous spending, and damaging boyfriends took their toll over the next several years before the publication of her first memoir.

Phillips's early work in a producing team with her husband continues to receive acclaim within the industry. Twenty-five years after its Oscar success, The Sting was inducted into the Producers Guild of America's Hall of Fame, granting each of its producers a Golden Laurel Award.[7] In June 2007, Taxi Driver was ranked as the 52nd-best American feature film of all time by the American Film Institute.[8] In December 2007, Close Encounters was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[9]

Publishing success

In 1991, Phillips published You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again about her experiences in Hollywood. The book topped the New York Times bestseller list, but its revelations about high-profile film personalities, Hollywood's drug culture, and casting couch sensibilities drew ire from many former colleagues. Her follow-up book, Driving Under the Affluence, was released in 1995. It was mostly an account of how the success of her first book changed her life. In 2000, she also helped Matt Drudge write his Drudge Manifesto.[10]


Phillips died in her home in West Hollywood, California, at the age of 57, from cancer on New Year's Day, 2002,[11] and was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.[12] She has one daughter, Kate Phillips-Wiczyk, who is married to Modi Wiczyk, co-founder of independent film and television studio Media Rights Capital.[13]


She was a producer in all films unless otherwise noted.


Year Film Credit Notes
1973 Steelyard Blues
The Sting
1976 Taxi Driver
The Big Bus Executive producer
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1987 The Beat
1988 The Boost Executive producer
1991 Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead Final film as a producer
As an actress
Year Film Role Notes
1977 New York, New York Woman Flirting with Jimmy
Close Encounters of the Third Kind UFO Watcher at Crescendo Summit

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Weinraub, Bernard (January 3, 2002). "Julia Phillips, 57, Producer Who Assailed Hollywood, Dies". New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 21. Retrieved April 16, 2019. You can't imagine what a trip it is for a nice Jewish girl from Great Neck to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor in the same night.
  2. ^ a b c d Sanello, Frank (March 24, 1991). "Hollywood Story Of 'Highs' And Lows". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 11, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "The Sting of Success". New York Magazine. 8 (4): 30. January 27, 1975. ISSN 0028-7369.
  4. ^ Child, Ben (June 4, 2012). "How we made ... Michael Phillips and David S Ward on The Sting". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Phillips, Julia (1991). You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. New York: Random House. p. 274. ISBN 0-394-57574-1.
  6. ^ Morton, Ray (2007). Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg's Classic Film. New York: Applause Theater & Cinema Books. p. 259. ISBN 978-1-55783-710-3.
  7. ^ Producers Guild of America Awards 1997
  8. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies -- 10th Anniversary Edition" (PDF). AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition). 2007. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
  9. ^ Gavin, Jennifer; Leggett, Stephen (December 27, 2007). "Librarian of Congress Announces National Film Registry Selections for 2007". Library of Congress (Press release). ISSN 0731-3527. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  10. ^ Matt Drudge and Julia Phillips (2000). "Drudge Manifesto, Chapter one online". Denver Post. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  11. ^ Harris, Dana (January 2, 2002). "Julia Phillips, producer, author, dies at age 57". Variety.com. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  12. ^ Meares, Hadley (March 14, 2014). "Hillside Memorial Park: A Jewish Modernist Masterpiece in the Midst of the City". KCET. Public Media Group of Southern California. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  13. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (January 3, 2002). "Hollywood Iconoclast Phillips Dies". People. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved April 16, 2019.

External links