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A stage-trained character player who endeared himself to TV audiences playing likable if somewhat geeky and enthusiastic supporting roles, Ethan Phillips was best known for his five-year stint (1980-85) on the popular ABC sitcom, "Benson" as press secretary Pete Downey. He remained visible as a frequent TV guest star on such series as "Murphy Brown," "NYPD Blue," "Law and Order" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Philips also appeared in small roles in a number of features, including his film debut in the acclaimed "Ragtime" (1981), "Glory" (1989), "Green Card" (1990), "The Man Without a Face" (1993) and "The Shadow" (1994).
Phillips had extensive stage experience with credits in regional theater, off-Broadway and Broadway. He was also a playwright whose original work, "Penguin Blues," was published in The Samuel French Collection of Best Short Plays and produced more than 150 times throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Phillips donned heavy makeup as a cast member of "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001). Playing Neelix, the ship's resident Talaxian scout, cook and comic relief, Phillips amused legions of "Trek" fans and ensured himself a steady gig throughout the show's run.
RoyHWagnerASC ( 2008-01-18 )
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Phillips graduated from Hollywood High, taking a summer job at the Grauman's Chinese Theater. Mr. Grauman liked Frank recommending him to contacts at MGM. Frank immediately took a position on the shipping department. His likeable personality soon saw him moving up through different departments until he was offered a chance as a camera loader. He worked at MGM through the 40's and early 50's on many of the studio's top films, moving from assistant to top camera operator on such films as "Singin' In the Rain" and "King Solomon's Mine". He moved from MGM to Warner Brothers as operator on George Steven's "Giant" and 20th Century Fox "House of Bambo". In the mid 1950's he became a director of photography working on "Have Gun Will Travel", "Gunsmoke" and late "Hawaii 5-0". His feature career was mostly at the Walt Disney Studios. Ultimately he won an Academy Award nomination for Disney's "The Black Hole".
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