Philip Vickers, ActorPhilip Vickers, Actor

Philip Vickers became an actor in London after World War II.

When the Armistice in Europe was signed, Philip Vickers was headed back to Canada for retraining on bombers for the Asian front. But, the war with Japan was quickly over after Hiroshima. So the Royal Canadian Air Force said goodbye to its aircrews, sending scores of pilots back into civilian life.

Phil luckily landed a job ferrying aircraft to new owners all around the country for Commonwealth Aircraft, based in Long Island, but with offices in downtown Manhattan. Just as Commonwealth Aircraft was folding due to the death of the owner, a whole new world opened up, including a flat in Greenwich Village. Living in the Village, he quickly made friends who were in the theatre and, always being game for something new, was persuaded to try it himself.  Acting became his focus with acting classes at Columbia University, parts at the Cherry Lane Theater and several off-Broadway theatres and summer-stock, followed by more classes from a British actor, Maurice Braham. Feeling totally out of place in New York and missing London, he enlisted Braham’s help and, finally, with an offer from a small theatre in the London suburbs, sailed for England.

For an entertainer, London had everything – legitimate theatres, music halls, movie and TV studios, and, in those days, there were three BBC Radio channels providing a steady stream of work for actors of every stripe.

But, in England, Phil hit the “green card” (work permit) wall, until a chance meeting with actress Hermione Gingold, who paired him with a good solicitor (attorney). When the solicitor learned that Phil had fought for England in WW2 and pledged allegiance to George VI, he had his work papers in short order.

With American plays flooding the London’s West End, American parts were plentiful. Soon Phil had a lead singing role in “Damn Yankees” and played long term in “Remains to Be Seen” and “The Big Knife”.  He opened for Bob Hope on the road and at the Coliseum, and played in movies with Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Sam Wanamaker, Peter Sellers, Audrey Hepburn and Stewart Granger, among others. Sadly, all of Phil’s theatre memorabilia has been destroyed, except memories of his stories… and the one photo you see on this page.

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