Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Phil Brown was the son of a doctor whose work took the family all around the country. After majoring in dramatics at Stanford University, Brown played some of his earliest stage roles as part of New York's Group Theatre. When it folded, he and other Group Theatre vets headed to Hollywood, where Brown worked in motion pictures and helped found the fabled Actors' Laboratory. His association with the Lab came back to haunt him later in the decade, when its members fell under the scrutiny of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and Brown was eventually compelled to relocate with his family to England, UK. Overseas he was able to resume acting on stage, TV and films; he also directed for the stage and TV. He returned to the U.S. in the 1990s and made the rounds of autograph shows.