Thomas Wilton Phipps

Is your surname Phipps?

Research the Phipps family

Thomas Wilton Phipps's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Thomas Wilton Phipps

Birthdate: (89)
Birthplace: New York, NY, USA
Death: February 20, 2003 (89)
Suffolk, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Paul Phipps and Nora Langhorne Phipps
Ex-husband of Elizabeth M. Brooke
Brother of Joyce Irene Grenfell

Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Thomas Wilton Phipps

Screenwriter. He wrote the scripts for the films "Laura" (1968), "A Yank At Eaton" (1942), "Broadway Melody of 1940" (1940), and the television series, "Robert Montgomery Presents" (1950-1957). Brother of actress Joyce Grenfell.

Born New York 30 November 1913; married 1936 Betty Brooks (one son deceased; marriage dissolved 1939), 1940 Donrue Leyton (marriage dissolved 1945), 1949 Mary Cheseboro (one son, one daughter); died Southampton, New York 20 February 2003.

Thomas Phipps was a successful television playwright in the 1950s golden era of American television, and his screenplays for the cinema include A Yank at Eton. He was the brother of the entertainer Joyce Grenfell.

Phipps was born in Manhattan in 1913, a descendant of governors of Bombay, Gold Coast and Mississippi. His father was the British architect Paul Phipps, who trained under Edwin Lutyens. His mother was Nora, the youngest of the Virginian Langhorne sisters who included Irene, wife of the American artist Charles Dana Gibson, and Nancy Astor. On the outbreak of the First World War, the family moved back to England. Tommy spent much of his childhood with his Astor cousins at Cliveden, on the River Thames in Buckinghamshire.

The Phipps family was part of wealthy Bohemian Chelsea. His grandmother Jessie Phipps was John Singer Sargent's cousin, a friend of Henry James and the first woman London county councillor. When Tommy was six, his sister Joyce bought him a silk top hat for sixpence at the Chelsea Theatrical Garden Party and Ivor Novello and Noël Coward came to tea.

When Phipps ran away from Highfield prep school, in Hampshire, the local stationmaster recognized his school cap and sent him straight back. Once, when he was at Eton, his aunt Nancy took him out to tea with Charlie Chaplin and Mahatma Gandhi. He left at 17 to join his mother in America; she had married Lefty Flynn, a silent film star. Scott Fitzgerald's story "The Intimate Strangers" was a thinly veiled account of their elopement. Phipps dismissed her claim that she had had a fling with Fitzgerald while she was helping him to dry out.

Phipps's first car was given to him by Henry Ford, whom he had met at Cliveden. Living in Manhattan in the 1930s he wrote for The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair and enjoyed life with friends such as David Niven and Hedy Lamarr. Phipps was so good-looking that his photograph was always included with his stories.

Returning to London in 1936 with his Texan first wife, Betty Brooks, he worked for the Daily Express and then Warner Brothers. In 1940, back in America, he joined the team in Hollywood writing Broadway Melody of 1940 starring Fred Astaire. He also co-wrote the screenplay for A Yank at Eton (1942), starring Mickey Rooney.

When the Second World War broke out, Phipps became an American citizen and joined the US Army in 1942. He rose to major during the liberation of Europe and returned to report on the Nuremberg trials. His first two marriages did not last but, when in 1949 he met the beautiful fashion model Mary Cheseboro, he knew it was forever and he settled down.

After the Phippses moved to Long Island in 1978 he played a lot of golf. One day he invited some visiting friends to play on one of Southampton's exclusive golf courses.

Thomas died on Feb 20 2003, He is survived by his wife, the former Mary Chesebro; their daughter, Sally Phipps; and their son, Lang.

view all

Thomas Wilton Phipps's Timeline

November 30, 1913
New York, NY, USA
February 20, 2003
Age 89
Suffolk, NY, USA