Barbara Parkins (born on May 22, 1942) is a Canadian television and film actress.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the age of sixteen Parkins and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at Hollywood High School and began to study acting. Her earliest employment was as a backup singer and dancer in the nightclub acts of major stars, including comedian George Burns. She made her film debut in a low-budget crime caper, 20,000 Eyes, in 1961, and also guested in a number of television series, including Leave It to Beaver, The Untouchables, and Perry Mason.
Parkins was involved in two of the most highly publicized projects of the 1960sthe ABC primetime serial Peyton Place and the film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's best-selling trash novel, Valley of the Dolls.
In Peyton Place, Parkins received lead billing for her role as small town bad girl Betty Anderson. As initially conceived, the character was scheduled to die in a car crash six weeks into the season, but audience reaction to Parkins was overwhelmingly favorable, and it was decided to keep her in the story line. She was the only female star to remain with the series throughout its entirety (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. Eventually shedding her "other side of the tracks" image, Betty endured many of the trials and tribulations of soap opera life, and the character achieved such popularity that when the show ended its run, 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, the naive small-town girl described as "the good girl with a million dollar face and all the bad breaks"a character based on author Susann. The film was trashed by the critics, although Parkins was one of the few to emerge unscathed. Nonetheless, it was a huge commercial success and eventually became a campy cult classic. Susann herself, who hated the movie, felt Parkins was the only redeeming feature in it.
Parkins' career never quite lived up to its early promise. After discovering London in 1968 when she served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of Dolls co-star Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski, Parkins decided to move to England, where she starred in several productions. Among them were Puppet on a Chain, Shout at the Devil, and The Mephisto Waltz, with Alan Alda and Jacqueline Bisset. Parkins tried to capitalize on her sex symbol image by posing for nude pictorials in the May 1967, February 1970, and May 1976 editions of Playboy Magazine. She spent most of the mid-70s appearing on American television in several mini-series, including Jenny: Lady Randolph Churchill with Lee Remick, Captains and the Kings with another Dolls co-star, Patty Duke, and The Testimony of Two Men with William Shatner. She also appeared in guest shots on Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel, and Vega$.
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