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Barbara Parkins Undressed

Barbara Parkins is a television and film actress, born on May 22, 1942 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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At the age of sixteen, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at Hollywood High 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 1960s - the 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 - but nonetheless 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 best of the lot, ''The Mephisto Waltz'', with Alan Alda and Jacqueline Bisset. She spent most of the mid-70s appearing on American television in several mini-series, including ''Jenny:


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