Thomas W. Phipps

Playwright, film and TV writer

Thomas W. Phipps, a versatile playwright and writer for films and television, died on Feb. 20 in Southampton, N.Y. He was 89. He came from a wealthy family, and the late actress Joyce Grenfell was his sister.

He was prolific as a television writer, and, by 1957, he had written more than 60 hour-length television plays.

One of his best-reviewed plays was “Four Winds,” about the problems of the rich, which opened on Broadway in 1957. Phipps was one of the screenwriters for the 1942 film “A Yank at Eton,” starring Mickey Rooney. Phipps did a television adaptation of the Vera Caspary mystery-suspense play “Laura,” with Truman Capote, broadcast on ABC.

A Manhattan native, Phipps was raised in England and attended Eton. He served in the American Army in World War II .

He was also active in foreign affairs, beginning in the 1960s. On behalf of the International Crisis Committee, he was involved in programs for refugees during India-Pakistan strife, his family recalled.

Two early marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the former Mary Chesebro; a daughter and a son.

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