Barbara Parkins

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Barbara Parkins
Barbara Parkins Valley of the Dolls.jpg
Kevin Norte and Parkins at a benefit reading of Valley of the Dolls in Hollywood in 2006
Born (1942-05-22) May 22, 1942 (age 81)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • dancer
  • photographer
  • artist
Years active1961–1998
Spouse1 (divorced)

Barbara Parkins (born May 22, 1942) is a Canadian-American former actress, singer, dancer and photographer.

Early life[edit]

Parkins was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.[1] At the age of 16, she and her adoptive mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at Hollywood High School and studied acting, tap, ballet and fencing at the Falcon School, where her mother played the piano.[2]

Parkins worked as an usher in a cinema to pay for drama lessons.[3]

Professional life[edit]

Parkins began her career as a backup singer and dancer in the nightclub acts of stars like comedian George Burns. She made her film debut in the 1961 low-budget crime caper 20,000 Eyes, and guest-starred in television series such as Leave It to Beaver, The Untouchables, Perry Mason and The Wide Country.

Parkins in a promotional photo for Peyton Place

Parkins was involved in two of the most highly publicized projects of the 1960s, the ABC primetime serial Peyton Place, and the film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel, Valley of the Dolls.

In Peyton Place, Parkins received lead billing for her role as small-town bad girl Betty Anderson. The character was scripted to die in a car crash six weeks into the season, but audience reaction to Parkins was overwhelmingly favorable and her character was kept in the story line. In a late-1965 interview, the actress said she was lucky to have the role of Anderson, calling her character the "salt and pepper in the stew".[3]

Parkins was the only female star nominated for an award throughout the run of the series (1964–1969). In 1966, she was nominated for an Emmy Award as Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but lost to Barbara Stanwyck for The Big Valley. Parkins said while losing the award was painful, she was glad to have lost it to Stanwyck instead of Anne Francis, who was also nominated and whose work Parkins thought was "unfeminine".[4]

Following the close of Peyton Place, producer Paul Monash developed a spin-off series, The Girl from Peyton Place, for Parkins. However, when co-star Ryan O'Neal, who played her husband, declined to participate, the project was shelved.

In Valley of the Dolls, Parkins played Anne Welles, a character based on author Susann. The Welles character was described as "the good girl with a million-dollar face and all the bad breaks".[who?] Although the film was trashed by the critics, it was a commercial success and became a cult classic.

After visiting London in 1968 to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of Valley of the Dolls co-star Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski,[5] Parkins moved to England, where she starred in several productions, including Puppet on a Chain, Shout at the Devil, and The Mephisto Waltz. Parkins said she moved to London because it was relaxed and simple, and she loved its traditions.[6]

Parkins posed for nude pictorials in the May 1967, February 1970 and May 1976 editions of Playboy magazine.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Parkins appeared on American television in series that included Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill, Captains and the Kings and The Testimony of Two Men, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel, and Vega$. She also appeared in television movies, including To Catch a King, in which she portrayed the Duchess of Windsor, and opposite Sharon Stone in Calendar Girl Murders.

Parkins returned to the role of Betty Anderson in Peyton Place: The Next Generation (1985), a one-shot sequel to the series.

In 1991, Parkins starred in Canadian mystery series Scene of the Crime. She appeared in two Susann-inspired projects, the biography Scandalous Me and a segment of the Lifetime series Intimate Portrait.

In 2006, Parkins participated with Ted Casablanca on the audio commentary for the DVD release of Valley of the Dolls.

While filming Valley of the Dolls, Parkins met photographer Edward Steichen, a friend of the movie's cinematographer, and was influenced to begin a lifetime career in photography.[7] She is also an advocate for endangered wildlife.[8][9]

Personal life[edit]

In the late 1960s, Parkins was linked to several men, including Omar Sharif, Adam West, David Hedison and Marcel Marceau, but insisted most of the stories were made up by gossip magazines.[citation needed]

Parkins moved to France in the 1970s where she married, and in the late 1980s adopted her only child. Parkins and her husband divorced.[citation needed]




Year Title Role Notes
1961 20,000 Eyes High School Girl
1967 Valley of the Dolls Anne Welles
1970 The Kremlin Letter B.A.
1971 The Mephisto Waltz Roxanne Delancey
The Deadly Trap Cynthia
Puppet on a Chain Maggie
A Taste of Evil Susan Wilcox TV movie
1972 Asylum Bonnie
1973 Snatched Barbara Maxvill TV movie
1974 Christina Christina/Kay
1976 Law of the Land Jane Adams TV movie
Shout at the Devil Rosa O'Flynn/Oldsmith
1977 Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy Vanessa Hunt TV movie
1978 Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women Anna Held TV movie
The Critical List Angela Adams TV movie
1979 Bear Island Judith Rubin
1982 Breakfast in Paris Jackie Wyatt
1983 Uncommon Valor Dr. Margaret Houghton TV movie
1984 To Catch a King Duchess of Windsor TV movie
Calendar Girl Murders Cleo Banks TV movie
Katy Caterpillar Mother Nature English version, voice
1985 Peyton Place: The Next Generation Betty Anderson TV movie
1986 Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun Ellen Cartwright TV movie
1998 Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story Annie Laurie Williams TV movie

TV series[edit]

Year(s) Title Role Seasons Notes
1964-69 Peyton Place Betty Anderson 1-5 Nominated for 1966 Emmy Award
for Lead Actress in a Drama Series
1974 Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill Leonie 1
1976 Captains and the Kings Martinique TV miniseries
1977 Testimony of Two Men Marjorie Ferrier/Hilda Eaton TV miniseries
1981 The Manions of America Charlotte Kent TV miniseries
1991 Scene of the Crime Various characters 1

TV guest appearances[edit]

Title Season Year Role Episode title Notes
The Untouchables 2 1961 uncredited The Lily Dallas Story Episode 21
The Tall Man 2 1961 Sue Wiley Shadow of the Past Episode 5
Leave It to Beaver 5 1961 Judy Walker No Time for Babysitters Episode 2
87th Precinct 1 1961 Mary Lady Killer Episode 3
Wagon Train 5 1961 Eve The Mark Miner Story Episode 6
General Electric Theater 10 1961 Betty We're Holding Your Son Episode 11
General Electric Theater 10 1961 Ruth A Friendly Tribe Episode 15
My Three Sons 2 1962 Bobbie Coincidence Episode 30
The Wide Country 1 1962 Sharon Crosley Our Ernie Kills People Episode 7
Perry Mason 6 1962 Paula Durham The Case of the Unsuitable Uncle Episode 7
Dr. Kildare 2 1962 Annie The Soul Killer Episode 9
Laramie 4 1963 Marilee Bishop The Wedding Party Episode 17
The Wide Country 1 1963 Billie Kidwell The Lucky Punch Episode 2
Ghost Story 1 1972 Eileen Travis The New House Pilot episode
Born Free 1 1974 Opal Vanek Episode 13
Gibbsville 1 1976 Jenny "All the Young Girls" Episode 4
Vega$ 3 1980 Lani "Aloha, You're Dead" (Part 1 & Part 2) Episode 1 & 2
Fantasy Island 4 1980 Lorna Hendricks The Love Doctor/Pleasure Palace/Possessed Episode 5
Hotel 1 1983 Eileen Weston Faith, Hope & Charity Episode 8
The Love Boat 8 1984 - Only the Good Die Young/The Light of Another Day/Honey Beats the Odds Episode 5
Jake and the Fatman 1 1988 Candace Morgan But Not for Me Episode 14
Murder, She Wrote 6 1989 Kay Weber The Error of Her Ways Episode 4
Picket Fences 4 1996 Lucy Wanamaker Forget Selma Episode 20
Superman: The Animated Series 2 1998 Mother Box (voice) "Apokolips... Now!" (Part 1 & Part 2) Episode 25 & 26


  1. ^ a b Parkins biography,, retrieved January 26, 2010
  2. ^ Spaner, David. Dreaming in The Rain (2003). Arsenal Pulp Press, ISBN 1-55152-129-6, p. 5
  3. ^ a b "Actress Barbara Parkins Once Ushered at Movies" by Bob Thomas, Nashua Telegraph, December 22, 1965, p. 9
  4. ^ "No. 1 Girl in 'Peyton Place'" by Hal Humphrey, The Oakland Tribune, June 5, 1966, p. 26-EN
  5. ^ Clark, John."Speaking Of Dvds: Barbara Parkins",, June 11, 2006
  6. ^ "Barbara Parkins talks about the men in her life" by Gene Handsaker, Independent, September 8, 1970, p. 16
  7. ^ Rossi, Richard. "Legendary Actress-Photographer Barbara Parkins of Valley of the Dolls". BlogTalkRadio. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Barbara Parkins PHOTOGRAPHY". Barbara Parkins Photographer. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  9. ^ "Barbara Parkins Collection at". 100Prints. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  10. ^ Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974-1984 (1985), Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG. ISBN 0-918432-61-8, pp. 34, 75, 264, 409
  11. ^ Parkins film listing, retrieved January 26, 2010
  12. ^ Internet Movie Database listing, Parkins, retrieved January 26, 2010


  • Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (2007). Random House, Inc., ISBN 0-345-49773-2, pp 220, 1077, 1201
  • Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television (2004). CRC Press. ISBN 1-57958-411-X, pp. 1754–1756

External links[edit]