1960s Soap Opera Icon Dead At 84

By Douglas Helm | Published

Lara Parker, an iconic soap opera star, passed away at age 84. Parker passed in her sleep at her home in the Topanga Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles (via Variety). She was best known for her role in the soap Dark Shadows from 1967 to 1971.

Lara Parker starred as the central antagonist of Dark Shadows, Angelique Bouchard. The soap takes place in the fictional town of Collinsport, Maine, and follows the Collins family who founded the town. Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) leaves Bouchard behind after a brief fling and ends up being cursed by Bouchard, who is secretly a witch.

Lara Parker had the most success in her career with Dark Shadows, which made her an icon at fan conventions for decades.

Bouchard and Collins would have a love-hate relationship throughout the series, which spanned the centuries. Lara Parker would play the role of Bouchard for years before her character died in the show. However, she would take on a different role in Dark Shadows as Catherine Harridge Collins, continuing her legacy.

Lara Parker ended up starring in a whopping 269 episodes before the series ended. Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis would then direct the 1971 film Night of Dark Shadows, which followed a painter and his wife who find their home haunted by ghosts and spirits of witches. Parker would play the role of Angelique Collins in the film.

In addition to starring in the original Dark Shadows, Lara Parker authored four official books set in the franchise.

Many years later, Lara Parker would also cameo in the 2012 Tim Burton-directed film Dark Shadows, which followed Frid’s character Barnabas Collins, this time played by frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp. It followed Collins as he returned to his ancestral home to protect his descendants and was co-written by the soap’s creator, Dan Curtis.

Lara Parker (right) in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012)

While Lara Parker cameoed in the Dark Shadows film, the role of Bouchard that she originally made famous was played by Eva Green. However, Parker’s contributions to the universe of Dark Shadows don’t stop there. Parker also authored four books set in the Dark Shadows universe titled Angelique’s DescentThe Salem BranchWolf Moon Rising, and Heiress of Collinwood.

Lara Parker’s final film appearance is in the currently unreleased film The Great Nick D, which is directed and written by Ansel Faraj and Nathan Wilson.

Some other notable films from Lara Parker’s career were 2013’s Doctor Mabuse and 2014’s Doctor Mabuse: Etiomopar, where she played Madame Carrozza. Parker also starred in the Oscar-winning drama Save the Tiger and the Brian de Palma-directed film Hi, Mom!. Some of her other notable TV appearances included roles on The Incredible Hulk, The Six Million Dollar Man, Galactica 1980, and many more.

Lara Parker’s final film appearance is in the currently unreleased film The Great Nick D, which is directed and written by Ansel Faraj and Nathan Wilson. The film also features her Dark Shadows co-stars, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott. The film is reportedly in the post-production stages, but there’s no word yet on an official release date.

Needless to say, Lara Parker has played a huge part in expanding the world of Dark Shadows and making it a continually evolving franchise for fans. If you’re interested in remembering Parker through her performances, you can revisit all five seasons of the original Dark Shadows for free on Tubi. Parker is survived by her second husband, Jim Hawkins; children Caitlin, Rick, and Andy; and her grandson.