Clifford John Philips, 66, AT&T accountant, actor

July 08, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Clifford John Philips, a retired accountant whose expressive face earned him roles as a Salty Dog on his many appearances in "Homicide: Life on the Street," died Sunday after collapsing during a walk on Cold Spring Lane. He was 66 and lived in the Roland Springs section of Roland Park.

A retired supervisor of budgets and economic forecasting for AT&T, he had a long career in telecommunications. In the last decade, he also had extensive credits in films and television shows shot in Baltimore. He appeared on "Homicide" 14 times.

"He was very meticulous, a detail-oriented person," said the Rev. William A. Au, pastor of SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church. "He was always willing to work and kept the books for us."

Mr. Philips, who retired to Baltimore having spent a portion of his business career here, was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Charles Village church. He served as lector, acolyte, collection counter, parish council member and Eucharistic minister.

"He was every generous with his time, working behind the scenes, out of the spotlight," said Patricia McNally Ellis, a parishioner.

A man with a full face and easy smile, Mr. Philips was also ideally suited for one of his annual roles. Each December, attired in a crimson suit, he played St. Nicholas at the church's Christmas party.

"One day he saw an ad in the paper for extras," said his wife, the former Eileen Wade, whom he married in 1952. "He sent in his picture and they called him up. He kept sending in new pictures and he kept getting called back."

Mr. Philips appeared in "Homicide" for two years in the roles of a medical examiner and court clerk, and as the type of Fells Point bar patron the script referred to as a "Salty Dog."

In John Waters' film "Pecker," Mr. Philips walked down the streets of Hampden in one of the shots.

"He had a terrific face," said local casting director Pat Moran, who hired him for parts. "He was always available and would show up right away. He was so reliable."

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Philips worked for the East New York Saving Bank before joining the old Western Electric Co. as a telephone repairman in 1958. He attended night classes and earned a bachelor's degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., in 1970, the year he was assigned to the Hunt Valley office of Western Electric as its chief auditor.

He earned a master's degree in business administration from Morgan State University in 1974 and stayed on to teach business in the school's evening program until 1977, when he returned to New York as assistant to the AT&T comptroller. He retired as supervisor of budgets and economic forecasting in 1992.

He served with the Navy's Atlantic fleet from 1951 to 1953 and was stationed in the Mediterranean.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at SS. Philip and James Church, 2801 N. Charles St.

He is also survived by a son, Clifford G. Philips of Richmond, Va.; four daughters, Geralyn Philips McCormick of Baltimore, Jane Majella Windley of Laurel, Kathleen G. Philips of San Diego and Laura P. Beasley of Allentown, N.J.; a brother, Edward Philips of Sun City, Calif.; and 11 grandchildren.

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