Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Soap Opera Sex Symbol: Barbara Parkins

Yet another girl from the Great White North (although Vancouver isn't particularly north and hardly ever white) who made a name for herself in cult cinema, but not intentionally.  Barbara Parkins is a bit different from the other girls in that she did a lot of television work and acted in movies with actual budgets which were produced by major motion picture studios.  In fact, one could argue that most of her "cult" films are just big budget failures that happened to develop followings in later years because they're so bad, and that she was never really an exploitation actress at all.  To that I say, "Suck it" and then make a slashing "X" sign across my junk like DX used to do in the WWE.  Anybody else remember those guys?  No?   Anyway, she posed for Playboy three times and repeatedly got naked on screen and that's good enough for me.  Maybe because she never intentionally made low-budget, independent cult films but rather because her well-funded, Hollywood produced films were so bad that they eventually gained cult status that we should call her an accidental cult actress and leave it at that.

As previously mentioned, Barbara Parkins was born in Vancouver, British Columbia but moved with her mother to Los Angeles when she was 16.  She got into acting and long story short, she's now known for two things: being the bad girl in the first American prime-time soap opera Peyton Place and starring in a movie that's so notoriously bad that it developed a cult following called Valley of the Dolls.  But that's not all.  She also did a lot more television work as well as some other less-than-stellar films like Bear Island, The Mephisto Waltz, and Shout at the Devil.  She was also in exploitation director John D. Lamond's non-exploitation love story Breakfast in Paris and in an Amicus horror anthology called Asylum.

After working together in Valley of the Dolls, Barbara became very good friends with Sharon Tate and served as a bridesmaid at her wedding to Roman Polanski in 1968.  She also posed for Playboy in May 1967, February 1970, and May 1976 and this is what she had to say about getting naked:

I don't feel at all self-conscious about taking off my clothes. I trained as a dancer, I watch my diet and I take care of my body. If a script calls for a bedroom scene, I say do it.... I do object to a nude scene when it is gratuitous. My nude scene in "Captains and The Kings" was unnecessary and I'm sorry I did it.