Lara Parker, known for her role as the vengeful witch Angelique Bouchard on the gothic ABC soap opera Dark Shadows, passed away at 84. Her daughter, Caitlin, confirmed that Parker peacefully passed away in her sleep at her home in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Parker made her mark in films as a character in John G. Avildsen’s Save the Tiger (1973), where she portrayed a prostitute whose client suffered a heart attack, alongside Jack Lemmon‘s Oscar-winning performance. She also played the wife of Peter Fonda‘s character in the 1975 satanic horror film Race With the Devil, alongside Warren Oates and Loretta Swit.
In 1967, shortly after arriving in New York, Parker auditioned for Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis and was cast as Angelique as part of a storyline that delved into the origin of the tormented vampire Barnabas Collins. (It was her second-ever professional audition in New York.)
Barnabas, a soldier and a shipping magnate’s son, had seduced and abandoned a servant girl from Martinique in 1795, unaware that she was a witch (Angelique). In her own words from an undated interview for a Dark Shadows home video release, “He just dallied with her and then dismissed her, and she was not to be dismissed.” This act enraged Angelique, leading her to curse Barnabas with eternal life as a vampire, sparking an enduring and tumultuous battle between the two across various time periods.
Parker was born Mary Lamar Rickey in Knoxville, Tennessee, on October 27, 1938. Her father, Albert, pursued a career as an attorney, while her mother, Ann, actively participated in civic organizations.
She completed her education at Central High School in Memphis and attended Vassar College, where she shared a room with Jane Fonda. Later, she continued her studies at Rhodes College in Memphis. At 19, she worked as Wink Martindale‘s assistant on his WHBQ-TV show, Dance Party. She subsequently earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.
Following a busy summer acting at the Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania, Parker temporarily left her husband and two children in Wisconsin to explore opportunities as an actress in New York.
Dark Shadows saw a significant boost in viewership with the introduction of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas in April 1967, and Parker joined the show seven months later.
Towards the end of the series, she appeared alongside fellow cast members in the poorly received MGM film Night of Dark Shadows (1971).
In 1972, she moved to Los Angeles and appeared in various TV shows like Medical Center, Kojak, The Rockford Files, and others. Later, she transitioned to teaching, obtained another master’s degree in creative writing, and penned four Dark Shadows novels.
More recently, she remained involved in the Dark Shadows franchise through audio productions by Big Finish Productions.
Parker appeared in Tim Burton‘s 2012 remake of Dark Shadows and featured in the crime film Doctor Mabuse (2013), and its 2014 sequel alongside fellow Dark Shadows cast members.
Survivors include her second husband, Jim Hawkins; children Caitlin, Rick, and Andy; daughters-in-law Miranda and Celia; grandson Wesley; and her dog, Pearl.