Lara Parker is an American television, stage and film actress and writer possibly best known for her role of Angelique Bouchard on the iconic Sixties TV series, "Dark Shadows."
Born Mary Lamar Rickey in Knoxville, Tennessee, she is the great-great-granddaughter of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II, a U.S. Representative, Senator, Secretary of the Interior and Supreme Court Justice and uncle of Confederate General James Longstreet. Raised in Memphis, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Although she had graduated with a degree in philosophy from Rhodes College, she always knew she wanted to be an actress.
Married to artist Tom Parker and mother of two children, she decided to pursue acting to offer a better life for her two sons. That summer, she took a role at a small playhouse in central Pennsylvania. The moment was such a positive experience for her that she moved to New York City in 1967 and auditioned for the role of the forlorn and jealous sorceress Angelique Bouchard in the iconic Gothic TV series, "Dark Shadows." Although the role was meant to be short lived, it proved to be so popular that she continued to play the role through the series as well as in other incarnations, becoming a fan favorite in the series. She became close friends with all of her co-stars, particularly Kathyrn Leigh Scott, David Selby, John Karlen and Jonathan Frid, who played her husband, the repentant vampire Barnabas Collins.
Between episodes, she starred on Broadway in 1968 in "Woman Is My Idea," and the title role in an Off-Broadway production of Frank Wedekind's "Lulu" in 1969. She also appeared in the off-Broadway production of "A Gun Play." Despite her success in other roles, she was mostly known for playing Angelique, playing the role on "The Tonight Show" in 1969 and vamping Johnny Carson in a skit that drew huge laughs and applause.
Staying with "Dark Shadows" to its untimely cancellation in 1971, Parker moved to Los Angeles after her divorce to her husband. Her work was mostly on television, playing the wife of Bill Bixby in the pilot for the series, "The Incredible Hulk," and a beautiful model dabbling in witchcraft in an episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" with Darren McGavin. She also made television appearances on "Kung Fu," "Police Woman," "Kojak," "Alice," "Quincy, M.E.," "Hawaii Five-O," "The Rockford Files," "Highway to Heaven," "Baretta" and "Galactica 1980." She also made appearances in the daytime dramas "Capitol" and "One Life to Live." She also had roles in the 1977 television miniseries "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" and had a recurring role in the short-lived television series "Jessica Novak."
Parker also reprised the role of Angelique in a new iteration for the movie "Night of Dark Shadows," joined by her DS castmates Kate Jackson, David Selby, Grayson Hall, Nancy Barrett, John Karlen, Christopher Pennock and Thayer David, the second feature film based on "Dark Shadows," filmed after the series was canceled. Since it was more loosely based on the series than "House of Dark Shadows" was, it did not fare as well at the box office as the first film. She also appeared opposite Robert De Niro in "Hi, Mom!," directed by Brian DePalma. Her best known film role came in the 1973 Oscar-winning drama "Save the Tiger" with Jack Lemmon. In 1975, she played the wife of Peter Fonda's character in "Race with the Devil." In 1980, she married for the second time to Jim Hawkins, a building contractor; they eventually had a daughter, Caitlin.
Forever indebted to "Dark Shadows" for her success, Lara has kept up with the huge cult status of the series from its fans through the Dark Shadows Conventions where she is often joined with her co-stars. In 1998, she published a novel, "Angelique's Descent," based on her role which was followed by "Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch" in July 2006 and "Dark Shadows: Wolf Moon Rising" in August 2013. She also reprised the role of Angelique for a new series of "Dark Shadows" audio dramas and supplied the audiobook recording of "Angelique's Descent." In 2012, she also had a cameo role in Tim Burton's campy reboot of "Dark Shadows," joined by Jonathan Frid, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott. In 2013, she was reunited with her "Dark Shadows" co-stars Jerry Lacy and Kathryn Leigh Scott in the 2014 feature film "Doctor Mabuse," written and directed by Ansel Faraj.