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Parkins was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. At the age of sixteen, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at Hollywood High School and began to study acting, tap, ballet, and fencing at the Falcon School, where her mother played the piano. 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, Eyes , and also guest starred in a of television series, including Leave It to Beaver , The Untouchables , Perry Mason , and The Wide Country.
Shortly before gaining nationwide fame, Parkins worked as an usher in a cinema to pay for drama lessons. Parkins was involved in two of the most highly publicized projects of the s—the ABC primetime serial, Peyton Place , and the film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel, Valley of the Dolls. 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.
In a late interview the actress said about her role:. I'm lucky in the role I have. Mine was the big story when the series started off. I haven't had much to do lately, but when I do have scenes, they are important to the plot. You might say I'm the salt and pepper in the stew. She was the only female star to remain with the series through its entire run — About losing the award on her 24th birthday, Parkins told the press:. I was hurt, but if I had to lose I was glad it was to Barbara Stanwyck, who is a grand lady and fine actress.
I would have hated to lose to Anne Francis. I don't care much for her work. A woman should be feminine and not go around hitting people with judo chops the way she does in that Honey West show. Eventually shedding her "other side of the tracks" image, Betty endured many of the trials and tribulations of soap opera life.
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. Nevertheless, Parkins insisted she often felt very insecure on the set, saying. Sometimes I think I hold myself in too tightly. I would watch Lee Grant do those wild things when she played Stella Chernak and think I should try something like that, but when I did I was pathetic.
I'm very critical of what I see of myself, but I did get an Emmy nomination, didn't I?. 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. The movie, however, was a huge commercial success and eventually became a campy cult classic. In the late s Parkins was linked to several men, but she insisted most of the stories were made up by gossip magazines.
In a interview Parkins said:. I get calls now, from young actors I used to have crushes on. They'll ask me out now, when they wouldn't a year ago. And I love to say "No" to them. I'd have liked it once, but now I don't need them. After visiting London in , when she served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of Valley of the Dolls co-star Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski, Parkins decided to move to England, where she starred in several productions. Parkins explained why she moved to London by saying: "It's more relaxed; there's a simplicity; I love the traditions. Parkins posed for nude pictorials in the May , February , and May editions of Playboy magazine.
In the late s, Parkins moved to France and married; and, in the late s, she adopted her only child, daughter Christina. In , she starred in a Canadian mystery series entitled Scene of the Crime , then spent most of the remainder of the decade in semi-retirement. She emerged in the late s to participate in two Susann-inspired projects, the biopic Scandalous Me and a segment of the Lifetime series Intimate Portrait. In , she was chosen by Empire magazine as 81 on their list of Sexiest Stars in film history.
In , she participated with Ted Casablanca on the audio commentary for the DVD release of Valley of the Dolls and attended the release party on June 13, Biography Lists News Also Viewed. Barbara Parkins. The basics. Barbara Parkins born May 22, is a Canadian-American television and film actress. Peyton Place and Valley of the Dolls.Barbara perkins nude
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