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Claire Phillips, WWII Spy

Claire Phillips Memorial

Claire Maybelle Phillips (1907-1960)  a stage actress and singer from Portland, noted for heroism as a spy and humanitarian during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. She ran a nightclub for enemy personnel in occupied Manila, secretly using the profits to buy and smuggle food and medicine to starving American soldiers in Japanese prisons. Convicted of espionage and sentenced to die, she was rescued by Army Rangers when the city was liberated in 1945.

Phillips was decorated with the Medal of Freedom in 1948 by General Mark Clark and later honored by Oregon Governor Douglas McKay and Portland Mayor Dorothy McCullough Lee. Her wartime memoir, Manila Espionage, became the basis for the Hollywood feature film,  I Was An American Spy.