Biography: Peg Phillips




Photo from Northern Exposures: Photographs
by Rob Morrow

Peg Phillips portrays Ruth-Anne Miller, a wise storekeeper who dispenses psychological insight with each purchase. A woman who has lived through it all and has learned to appreciate life for everything it has to offer, Ruth-Anne provides a constant in an always turbulent town. Proprietor of a one-stop shop which serves as the library, post office, local market, and video store, Ruth-Anne's quiet strength, wise words, and life experiences guide the residents of Cicely through their many crazy predicaments.

A native of Everett, Washington, Phillips left the state of Washington at the age of twenty and in the next twenty years married, divorced, raised four children by herself, and helped raise her four grandchildren. Knowing from the age of four that she wanted to act, Phillips participated in a few community theater productions. But not until her family was grown did she return to the Seattle area and have the opportunity to live her dream.


At the age of sixty-five, Phillips enrolled in the University of Washington Drama School and hired an agent. Her immediate success did not allow her to finish her degree, although she hoped to complete it by the time she turned eighty. Her numerous film credits include Waiting for the Light starring Shirley Maclaine; Plain Clothes with Abe Vigoda; Dangerous Affections with Judith Light, and Chase with Jennifer O'Neill. Her theater credits include Romeo and Juliet, performed at the Marin Shakespeare Festival; Night Mother at the University of Washington, and Madwoman of Chaillot at the Santa Cruz Repertory.

After the cancellation of Northern Exposure, Phillips made guest appearances on several television shows, including Touched by an Angel, Suddenly Susan and ER. In her spare time she enjoys two very special pastimes: "gardening and grandchildren!" In 1994, she narrated a documentary on aging called "The Granny Myth." This documentary shows realistic and positive views of older women.

In 1998, Phillips founded the Woodinville Repertory Theatre, a professional theater company in Woodinville, Washington. The company is dedicated to producing quality theater to appeal to audiences from the entire Puget Sound region.

Peg Phillips was born September 20, 1918. She passed away on November 7, 2002.


"Fans ask me, so often, which episode was my favorite.... I always say that, far and away, my favorite episode was the one in which Ed and Ruth Anne danced on her grave. When I first read the script, I said a prayer of thanks that I was privileged to be in it. ...

A friend once told me of the Zen admonition to live life as if you were already dead. That thought ties right in with my dad's firm belief that we should not only live each day as if it were our last--we should live every day as if it would last forever. To me, dancing on my grave brings it all together."

Words © Phillips family with permission.
Pictures courtesy of Phillips family with permission.

On the set of 3.8 A-Hunting We Will Go

Film star Peg Phillips brings drama classes to locked-in youth at Echo Glen -, 5/5/97
'Northern Exposure' veteran carves a niche in local theater scene - The Seattle Times, 8/5/99
Actress is force behind new theater group in Woodinville - The Seattle Times, 8/13/99
Actress injured in car accident - The Seattle Times, 12/24/99
Seattle Times, 11/12/02
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/12/02
Robert Siegal All Things Considered, 11/13/02
Boise Memorial Service, Obituary, Idaho Statesman, 11/16/02
King County Journal (WA), 11/13/02
Thread on alt.obituaries,
Woodinville Weekly, 11/18/02
Arts reinforce success at Echo Glen - Snoqualmie Valley Record , 1/3/03 (Peg's legacy lives on)
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