Barbara Parkins

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

Barbara Parkins
Kevin Norte and Barbara Parkins at a benefit reading of Valley of the Dolls in Hollywood on June 13, 2006
Born (1942-05-22) May 22, 1942
OccupationActress, singer, dancer, photographer and artist
Years active1961–1998
ChildrenChristina (born 1986)

Early life

Parkins was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.[1] At the age of 16, her adoptive mother and she 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

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 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 in the series through its entire run (1964–1969). In 1966, she was nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Actress in a Lead Role in a Dramatic 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 Stanwick 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." 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, 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 appeared in television movies, including To Catch a King, in which she portrayed the Duchess of Windsor, and opposite Sharon Stone in The 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.

Personal life

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.

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




196120,000 EyesHigh School Girl
1967Valley of the DollsAnne Welles
1970The Kremlin LetterB.A.
1971The Mephisto WaltzRoxanne Delancey
The Deadly TrapCynthia
Puppet on a ChainMaggie
A Taste of EvilSusan WilcoxTV movie
1973SnatchedBarbara MaxvillTV movie
1976Law of the LandJane AdamsTV movie
Shout at the DevilRosa O'Flynn/Oldsmith
Captains and the KingsMartiniqueTV miniseries
1977Testimony of Two MenMarjorie Ferrier/Hilda EatonTV miniseries
Young Joe, the Forgotten KennedyVanessa HuntTV movie
1978Ziegfeld: The Man and His WomenAnna HeldTV movie
The Critical ListAngela AdamsTV movie
1979Bear IslandJudith Rubin
1981The Manions of AmericaCharlotte KentTV miniseries
1982Breakfast in ParisJackie Wyatt
1983Uncommon ValorDr. Margaret HoughtonTV movie
1984To Catch a KingDuchess of WindsorTV movie
Calendar Girl MurdersCleo BanksTV movie
1985Peyton Place: The Next GenerationBetty AndersonTV movie
1986Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious NunEllen CartwrightTV movie
1998Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann StoryAnnie Laurie WilliamsTV movie

TV series

1964-69Peyton PlaceBetty Anderson1-5Nominated for an Emmy Award
1974Jennie: Lady Randolph ChurchillLeonie1
1991Scene of the CrimeVarious characters1

TV appearances

TitleSeasonYearRoleEpisode titleNotes
The Untouchables21961Girl (uncredited)The Lily Dallas StoryEpisode 21
The Tall Man21961Sue WileyShadow of the PastEpisode 5
Leave It to Beaver51961Judy WalkerNo Time for BabysittersEpisode 2
87th Precinct11961MaryLady KillerEpisode 3
Wagon Train51961EveThe Mark Miner StoryEpisode 6
General Electric Theater101961BettyWe're Holding Your SonEpisode 11
General Electric Theater101961RuthA Friendly TribeEpisode 15
My Three Sons21962BobbieCoincidenceEpisode 30
The Wide Country11962Sharon CrosleyOur Ernie Kills PeopleEpisode 7
Perry Mason61962Paula DurhamThe Case of the Unsuitable UncleEpisode 7
Dr. Kildare21962AnnieThe Soul KillerEpisode 9
Laramie41963Marilee BishopThe Wedding PartyEpisode 17
The Wide Country11963Billie KidwellThe Lucky PunchEpisode 2
Ghost Story (TV series) (a.k.a.Circle of Fear)11972Eileen TravisThe New HousePilot episode
Born Free11974Opal VanekEpisode 13
Gibbsville11976Jenny"All the Young Girls"Episode 4
Vega$31980Lani"Aloha, You're Dead" (Part 1 & Part 2)Episode 1 & 2
Fantasy Island41980Lorna HendricksThe Love Doctor/Pleasure Palace/PossessedEpisode 5
Hotel11983Eileen WestonFaith, Hope & CharityEpisode 8
The Love Boat81984-Only the Good Die Young/The Light of Another Day/Honey Beats the OddsEpisode 5
Jake and the Fatman11988Candace MorganBut Not for MeEpisode 14
Murder, She Wrote61989Kay WeberThe Error of Her WaysEpisode 4
Picket Fences41996Lucy WanamakerForget SelmaEpisode 20
Superman: The Animated Series21998Mother Box (voice)"Apokolips... Now!" (Part 1 & Part 2)Episode 25 & 26


  1. 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. "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. 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
  8. Parkins film listing, retrieved January 26, 2010
  9. 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
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