Biography Profile: Peggy Lipton

Peggy Lipton rose to fame as Julie Barnes on the hit TV show ‘The Mod Squad’ in the late 1960s.


Actress Peggy Lipton started out as a model in New York in the 1960s. She soon moved on to acting roles, appearing in such TV series as Bewitched and The John Forsythe Show. In 1968, Lipton became an overnight sensation in the TV crime drama The Mod Squad. She took a break from acting during much of the 1970s and 1980s, but she returned to series television in 1990 in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Recent projects include roles on Alias and Crash.

Early Life and Career

Born on August 30, 1946, in New York City, actress Peggy Lipton is best known for her hit TV series The Mod Squad. She was originally named Peggy Ann, but her mother later changed it to Margaret Ann, Lipton wrote in her memoir Breathing Out. Lipton grew up as the middle child in an upper middle class Jewish family. Her father was a lawyer and her mother was an artist.

While she had many advantages growing up, Lipton also faced some difficult challenges. She developed a stutter around the age of 7. Lipton wrote in her memoir that the condition was likely connected to being sexually abused by a relative around this time.

Lipton started modeling at 15, signing with Eileen Ford’s agency. In her later teens, Lipton moved with her family to California. There her acting career began to take off. One of her first television appearances was a guest spot on Bewitched. Lipton then landed a role on the short-lived series The John Forsythe Show, which ran from 1965 to 1966. In 1968, she appeared with her brother Robert in the 1968 western Blue starring Terence Stamp, Joanna Pettet and Karl Malden.

‘The Mod Squad’

Lipton became an instant celebrity in 1968 with the debut of The Mod Squad. She, Michael Cole and Clarence Williams III played a trio of young people recruited to work undercover for the police after running into trouble with the law. The show proved to be a huge hit with viewers, and Lipton quickly became a popular celebrity. She even tried to launch a singing career, releasing an album in 1968.

Mod Squad Photo

Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole in the 1970s crime drama “The Mod Squad.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lipton went on to win a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Julie Barnes on The Mod Squad. She also received four Emmy Award nominations. Despite her success, Lipton struggled emotionally. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer that “when I started the series, I had no confidence. I was 18 and insecure.”

After The Mod Squad ended in 1973, Lipton soon settled down with composer Quincy Jones. The couple wed in 1974 and had two daughters, Kidada and Rashida, together. Lipton largely left Hollywood behind to focus on her family. She reprised her role as Julie Barnes for the 1979 TV movie The Return of Mod Squad, but she otherwise stayed out of the spotlight until her marriage ended in 1986.

Later Career

Lipton returned to acting after her split from Jones, appearing in the 1988 TV movie Addicted to His Love. She then landed the role of Norma Jennings on David Lynch’s offbeat drama Twin Peaks, which aired from 1990 to 1991. In 1992, Lipton played Norma Jennings in the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. She also appeared in 1997’s The Postman starring Kevin Costner.

Peggy Lipton Photo

Peggy Lipton at the 35th Annual Gracie Awards Gala, in Beverly Hills in 2010.

Photo: s_bukley /

More recently, Lipton has enjoyed recurring roles on such shows as PopularAlias and Crash. She also reunites with her ex-husband Quincy Jones to play the parents of their real-life daughter Rashida Jones on the upcoming TV series Angie Tribeca.

Lipton died on May 11, 2019, at the age of 72.

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