Whether it was through The Mod Squad, Twin Peaks, or something else, Peggy Lipton’s acting career has garnered many fans over the decades. Her death on May 11, 2019, was noted with great sadness amongst those fans, though she certainly left a memorable legacy and fascinating life behind her. If you’d like to learn more about this life, read on and do just that!
1. Does That Still Count as an Autobiography?
In 2005, Lipton co-authored a memoir of her life with writers David and Coco Dalton. Breathing Out covered Lipton’s life as a Hollywood it-girl and addressed many personal stories and gossip which surrounded her legacy. You’ll hear about a few of them on this list, but we’d suggest you get the book itself for the full account!
2. East Coast Represent!
Lipton was born on August 30, 1946, in New York City. She was raised on Long Island until she was 18 years old.
3. Lipton by Lipton
Aside from acting, Lipton was also an established singer. Aside from the success of her singles (more on those later), Lipton released the album Peggy Lipton in 1968, produced by Ode Records. Many decades later, in 2013, the album was given a follow-up which released the entirety of Lipton’s recordings with Ode Records.
4. A High Note
The last appearance that Lipton made onscreen was the revival of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in 2017. Lipton was one of many people who reprised their roles from the original series. While some revivals have received a lukewarm reception in the past, Twin Peaks’ new season was hailed by many publications as being one of the best shows of its year.
Lipton grew up in an upper-middle-class Jewish household. Both branches of her family were from either Russian or Latvian background.
6. Go West, Young Woman
In 1964, when Lipton was around 18 years old, her family uprooted from New York state and went across the country. Lipton’s family settled in Los Angeles, which would be the center of Lipton’s career soon after her arrival.
7. Big Bro
Lipton wasn’t the only person in her family to dive into the world of acting. Robert Lipton, one of her older brothers, went into show business around the same time as Lipton herself did. While he never got a starring role in anything like his younger sister did, Robert became an established character actor with an extensive list of credits to his name. These credits include Bullitt, The X-Files, Die Hard 2, and The Mod Squad (because of course!).
8. Family Projects
Speaking of Robert Lipton, The Mod Squad wasn’t the only production where he worked alongside his sister. They appeared together in a 1965 episode of Mr. Novak and the 1968 Western film Blue.
9. Hardly a Stretch of Disbelief!
In 2017, Lipton made a guest appearance in an episode of Angie Tribeca, which starred her daughter, Rashida Jones. Fittingly, Lipton portrays the mother of Rashida’s character in the show!
10. I Ain’t Too Cool for School!
Even before her family moved to California, Lipton was already immersed in the world of entertainment. Her mother, artist Rita Benson, encouraged Lipton to enroll in acting lessons while she was still a teenager.
11. Strike a Pose!
While Lipton was training to be an actor, her father also arranged for his daughter to enter the world of modeling. While they were still living in New York, the 15-year-old Lipton signed with Ford Agency. She spent her late teen years having a successful modeling career.
12. Not for Me!
Despite her success within the modeling community, Lipton herself wasn’t too thrilled about it. In 1972, Lipton reflected that she’d “hated” modeling, and had also disliked the “suburban life” which she was leading at the time. What allegedly inspired her was her time in school, away from modeling, where she came across all sorts of people who didn’t fit the mold of what was ideal.
13. Let’s Have a Laugh
On the subject of Lipton’s less-than-positive view of her days as a model, she would later take part in the 2000 film The Intern, which was a satire of the fashion industry. On a side note, the film also starred renowned fashion figure and comedian Joan Rivers.
14. The People You Know
One of Lipton’s most regular co-stars on The Mod Squad was veteran actor Tige Andrews, who played Capt. Greer on the show. Lipton later cited Andrews as a major influence and inspiration for her own acting skills.
15. That’s My Girls!
Both of Lipton’s daughters became actresses, following in their mother’s footsteps. It’s worth noting, however, that while Rashida Jones continues to land highly acclaimed roles in film and television, Kidada Jones is much more well known in the world of fashion.
16. One Out of Four
Lipton was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards during her career. All four of them were nominations for Best TV Actress, and they were all for her work on The Mod Squad. Of those nominations, Lipton won the award in 1971.
17. It’s the Nomination That Counts!
Speaking of awards for The Mod Squad, Lipton was also nominated for four Primetime Emmys for her work on the series. In the case of the Emmys, however, she was unsuccessful in winning any.
18. Starting with a Classic
Lipton’s very first onscreen role in a fiction series was for the famous TV show Bewitched. For those of you not sure what that show was, Bewitched ran from 1964 to 1972 and followed the life of a witch named Samantha Stephens living among (mostly) mortals. Lipton appears as a secretary in the 1965 episode “Your Witch is Showing.”
19. Was That a Coincidence?
Lipton’s daughter Rashida Jones is well known for many roles, including Angie Tribeca in the series of the same name, which recently completed its run of four seasons on TBS. In a strange parallel, part of Jones’ show was filmed on the same soundstage where Lipton had filmed The Mod Squad all those years ago!
During her time in California, Lipton would quickly turn to such practices as yoga and meditation as part of an emotional journey. She later described herself as having become a “Topanga Canyon hippie” during that time period (it was the late 60s, after all).
21. Power Couple
In 1974, Lipton married the famous musician and music producer Quincy Jones. He was the father to both of Lipton’s daughters, and they would be married for 12 years.
22. You’ve Got the Look
Lipton’s time on The Mod Squad not only made her a well-known actor in Hollywood, it also helped make her a fashion icon and it-girl. Famously described as a “canary with a broken wing,” Lipton’s image on the show popularized the hippie look of beads, bell-bottoms, mini-skirts, and a waif-like physique.
23. Beware the Gray Ghost
Lipton’s first feature film role was a supporting part in the 1967 feature Mosby’s Marauders. The film followed the exploits of Confederate cavalry commander John S. Mosby, whose expertise in guerrilla tactics led him to be known as the “Gray Ghost.” Among Lipton’s co-stars was none other than actor Kurt Russell.
24. We Charted Too!
In 1967, British singer/songwriter Donovan wrote and performed his successful single “Wear Your Love Like Heaven.” Lipton would cover the song in 1970, one of several musicians who did the same thing. Lipton’s version would find a measure of success, appearing on Record World magazine’s “Non-Rock” Top 40 upon its release.
25. Calling it Quits
In 1986, after 12 years of marriage, Lipton separated from Quincy Jones. The two would finalize their divorce in 1990. Despite citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their breakup, Lipton never stopped being friends with Jones for the rest of her life.
26. Rare Exception
The only non-Mod Squad major award nomination that Lipton ever received in her life was a Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for her work on Twin Peaks in 1990.
27. Half Right, Then!
During production on Twin Peaks in the early 1990s, actress Piper Laurie went to crazy lengths to hide spoilers, even from her own castmates. The top brass working on Twin Peaks planned for Laurie to be on set while in disguise. The prosthetics and costume were so convincing that members of the cast were completely fooled as to who Laurie was. Lipton later reflected that she was aware that it was a disguise, but she wrongly thought that David Lynch had brought his then-girlfriend onto the set.
28. Curse You, Barbara!
Another Lipton single which charted on Billboard was her cover of the song “Stoney End.” Originally by Laura Nyro in 1967, Lipton would cover it the following year. Unfortunately for both of them, their versions would be overshadowed by Barbara Streisand, who acquired a hit single with her own cover of “Stoney End” in 1970.
29. Always Nice to Meet a Mod Squad Fan!
According to Lipton, she didn’t need a telephone call to tell her that she was cast in Twin Peaks. When she auditioned for a role in the show, David Lynch reportedly cast her on the spot.
30. Stepping Away
Following her marriage to Quincy Jones, Lipton took a break from acting to focus on raising a family. Between the conclusion of The Mod Squad and her return to film projects in 1988, she avoided film and television work.
31. Making My Fortune
Reportedly, Lipton was paid $6,700 per week when she worked on The Mod Squad. Not a bad weekly sum, especially for the time!
32. My Number One
Of all the roles that Lipton acted during her life, she listed her role as Norma Jennings in Twin Peaks as being the most fun. No wonder she came back to the role in 2017!
33. One Last Time
We should point out that while Lipton did go around 14 years without working in film and television, there was a single exception to this hiatus. In the late 70s, Lipton reprised her star-making role as Julie Barnes for a special TV movie The Return of Mod Squad. It aired on May 18, 1979.
In 1988, the film Purple People Eater was first released. Lipton appeared in the film, along with a very young Neil Patrick Harris. According to Lipton herself, she later reunited with an older Harris, who admitted that his time on the film Purple People Eater was one of the worst times of his entire life!
35. Cinematic Swan Song
Due to Lipton’s tragic passing after a long bout with colon cancer, the final theatrical film of her career was the 2017 film A Dog’s Purpose. Her fans can decide whether that was a high or low note to go out on.
36. The Dangers of Typecasting
Even at the height of her fame on The Mod Squad, Lipton remained level-headed and realistic about her situation. In a 1972 interview, Lipton admitted that she didn’t have any illusions about what sort of show she was making, regardless of how lucky she was to be in a starring role on television. Rather poignantly, she reflected a deep insecurity about her acting ability. As she viewed it, playing the same role on a TV series had eroded her acting skills, and she was nervous about looking for other work.
Thankfully, of course, she would successfully move past The Mod Squad and continue her acting career up until virtually her death.
37. Heck of an Ex List!
In the world of Hollywood and entertainment, we can safely assume that most celebrities will have the odd fling with a fellow celebrity. In the case of Lipton, she openly discussed her varied love life in the book Breathing Out. Among the men whom she was romantically linked with included Sammy Davis Jr., Paul McCartney, and even Elvis Presley!
38. Breaking Barriers
During the 1970s, Lipton faced a lot of controversy due to her marriage to Quincy Jones. The subject of interracial marriages was still considered taboo in much of the country, let alone the subject of biracial children. Lipton would speak of her struggles living in such a closed-minded society in her memoirs.
39. Easy for You to Say
As a child, Lipton was very introverted and sensitive. She also suffered from a speech impediment during these years. Her stutter was so severe, in fact, that she could hardly pronounce her own name! It’s too bad that Geoffrey Rush wasn’t around to help her back then!
40. Traumatizing Memory
As a child, Lipton’s introversion was made more pronounced by a horrific experience that she was forced to endure. Breathing Out detailed a moment in Lipton’s childhood when she was sexually abused by her uncle. We, of course, can never fully understand what she went through, but given that she was able to move forward from that terrible time, establish herself as a famous actress, and live a full life, we’d like to view the rest of Lipton’s life as a silver lining to a horrific story.
41. How Much in Royalties Did She Get?
In 1984, American music star Frank Sinatra had yet another hit song with the release of his single “L.A. is My Lady.” Interestingly, Lipton is listed as one of the co-writers of that song!
42. Taken From Us
Before her death due to the effects of colon cancer in 2019, Lipton had fought the disease since at least the early 2000s. She revealed in 2004 that she had not only been diagnosed with cancer but was already being treated for it. When she passed away, her daughters Rashida and Kidada Jones released a joint statement staying:
“We are heartbroken that our beloved mother passed away from cancer today. She made her journey peacefully with her daughters and nieces by her side. We feel so lucky for every moment we spent with her. We can’t put all of our feelings into words right now but we will say: Peggy was, and will always be our beacon of light, both in this world and beyond,” they added. “She will always be a part of us. We ask that you respect our family’s privacy.”
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20