Mackenzie Phillips

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Mackenzie Phillips
Mackenzie Phillips 1975.JPG
Phillips in 1975
Laura Mackenzie Phillips

(1959-11-10) November 10, 1959 (age 62)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • author
Years active1972–present
Jeff Sessler
(m. 1979; div. 1981)
(m. 1986; div. 2000)
Keith Levenson
(m. 2005; div. 2007)

Laura Mackenzie Phillips (born November 10, 1959) is an American actress and singer, known for her roles as Carol Morrison in the film American Graffiti, as teenager Julie Mora Cooper Horvath on the sitcom One Day at a Time, and as Molly Phillips on the Disney Channel supernatural series So Weird.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, she is the daughter of John Phillips, singer in The Mamas & the Papas, and his first wife, Susan Stuart Adams. She is the sister of Jeffrey Phillips and a half-sister of Tamerlane Phillips, actress Bijou Phillips, and singer Chynna Phillips.[citation needed]

Phillips attended Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge, California.[2] At age 12, Phillips formed a band with three of her classmates and was spotted by a casting agent during one of their performances.[3] She was given an audition for a role in the 1973 film American Graffiti, which she won.


Phillips was 12 years old during the filming of American Graffiti, and 13 when the movie was released. She was cast as Carol Morrison, a young girl accidentally picked up by hot rodding teenager John Milner (Paul Le Mat). Because of California state law, producer Gary Kurtz became Phillips's legal guardian for the duration of the filming.[4]

Phillips in 1975, alongside her One Day at a Time co-stars Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli

Phillips gained stardom in the 1970s playing teenager Julie Cooper (when the character got married, her married name was Horvath) on the long-running television show One Day at a Time, for which she earned $50,000 (equal to $251,793 today) a week.[3] During the show's third season in 1977, Phillips was arrested for disorderly conduct. Because of her drug and alcohol abuse, Phillips began arriving late and was even incoherent for rehearsals. The producers ordered her to take a six-week break to overcome her addiction but were ultimately forced to fire her in 1980.[3]

After two near-fatal overdoses, Phillips entered Fair Oaks Hospital voluntarily for treatment. In 1981, the producers of One Day at a Time invited her back to the show.[3] However, in 1982, Phillips relapsed into cocaine use and the following year, she collapsed on the show's set. After refusing to take a drug test, she was fired permanently and her character was written out of the series. In 1992, Philips entered a drug rehab program for nine months.[3]

From the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, Phillips performed as a singer and toured with a re-formed version of The Mamas & the Papas, known as The New Mamas and The Papas.

In 1999, Phillips co-starred with Cara DeLizia in the Disney Channel series So Weird, playing a fictional rock star named Molly Phillips. She sang original songs written by show producers Jon Cooksey and Ann Marie Montade. In 2002, she appeared in the Disney Channel original movie Double Teamed. Phillips guest-starred on episodes of ER, Without a Trace, 7th Heaven, Cold Case, and Beverly Hills, 90210.[5]

Phillips won an Honorary Best Actress award on March 20, 2011, at the closing night awards gala of the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for her performance as Sharon in the 2010 independent film Peach Plum Pear. While in Toronto, she was interviewed on Canada AM, ET Canada, and The Marilyn Denis Show.[6]

In 2016, Phillips began working at the Breathe Life Healing Center in West Hollywood, California as a drug rehab counselor.[7]

In 2017, Phillips appeared in an episode of the rebooted One Day at a Time as Pam Valentine. The role was apt, given Phillips's history: she portrayed a counselor. She reprised the role in 2019, in two episodes of the third season.

Phillips in 2008

In 2018, Phillips appeared as Barbara Denning in multiple episodes of Netflix original Orange Is the New Black.

Personal life[edit]

Phillips has been married three times: first to rock group manager Jeffrey Sessler, son of Freddie Sessler (from 1979 to 1981); then to rock guitarist Shane Fontayne (from 1986 to 2000), and to Keith Levenson in 2005, and later divorced. Levenson remarried in 2007. She has one child, son Shane Barakan (born 1987), a musician. In an interview in March 2022, she stated that she has dated both men and women.[8]

Substance abuse and arrest[edit]

Phillips has had a lifetime troubled by drug abuse. On August 27, 2008, she was arrested by the Los Angeles Airport Police on charges of possession of cocaine and heroin after she went through airport security screening.[9] On October 31, 2008, she pleaded guilty to one felony count of cocaine possession, and was sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program.[10] Phillips's drug case was dismissed after she successfully completed a drug diversion program.[11]

She appeared on the third season of Celebrity Rehab, which aired in January and February 2010. She later discussed her recovery on the March 17, 2010, episode of The View.[12]

Relationship with father[edit]

In September 2009, Phillips's memoir High on Arrival was released, after which she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show for an hour-long interview. She told Winfrey that she first tried cocaine when she was 11 years old, and that her father had taken drugs with her, and had also injected her with cocaine. During the interview, Phillips read excerpts from her book. She said that at the age of 19, on the night before her first wedding in 1979, "I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father", and that when she confronted her father months later,[13] asking why he had raped her, her father simply replied, "Raped you? Don't you mean we made love?"[14] Phillips told Oprah Winfrey of having a "consensual" sexual relationship with her father,[15] describing her participation as "sort of Stockholm syndrome, where you begin to love your captor."[16] However, she has also described the initial incident as a rape, and has said, "No matter what kind of incest, it is an abuse of power ... a betrayal of trust."[14]

The incest ended after Phillips became pregnant and subsequently had an abortion for which her father paid.[17]

Geneviève Waïte, John's third wife, denies the allegations, saying they were inconsistent with his character. Michelle Phillips, John's second wife, also stated that she had "every reason to believe [Mackenzie's account is] untrue."[18] However, Chynna Phillips, Mackenzie's half-sister and Michelle Phillips's daughter, stated that she believed Mackenzie's claims and that Mackenzie first told her about the relationship during a phone conversation in 1997, approximately 11 years after the supposed relationship had ended.[19] Jessica Woods, daughter of Denny Doherty, said that her father had told her that he knew "the awful truth"[20] and that he was "horrified at what John had done."[20]


Year Title Role Notes
1973 American Graffiti Carol Morrison
1975 Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins Rita "Frisbee" Sykes
1979 More American Graffiti Carol "Rainbow" Morrison
1982 Love Child J.J.
1998 True Friends Connie
1999 When Catherine Brown
2005 The Jacket Nurse Harding
2011 Hercules Saves Christmas Helen Dunn Alternate title: Santa's Dog
2011 Peach Plum Pear Sharon
2014 Suburban Gothic Mrs. Richards
2014 Blackout Sarah Short film
2014 North Blvd Linda
2015 Girl on the Edge Deborah Green
2016 Sacred Journeys Tiff Short film
2018 North Blvd Linda
Year Title Role Notes
1973 Go Ask Alice Doris Television film
1974 Movin' On Chessie Episode: "Roadblock"
1975 Miles to Go Before I Sleep Robin Williams Television film
1975 Baretta Mindy Episode: "On the Road"
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Francie Episode: "Mary's Delinquent"
1975–1983 One Day at a Time Julie Mora Cooper Horvath 123 episodes
Main cast (Seasons 1–5) Recurring role (Seasons 7–9)
1976 The Jacksons Herself/ Multiple Roles Season 1, Episode 2 (Variety Series)
1976 Eleanor and Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt, age 14 Television film
1976–1979 Child World Herself TV commercials
1978 The Love Boat Allison Scott Episode: "The Big Deal"
1979 Fast Friends Susan Television film
1979 The Incredible Hulk Lisa Swan Episode: "Metamorphosis"
1980 The Silent Lovers Lillian Gish Television film
1982 The Love Boat Rachel Johnson Episode: "Gopher's Roommate"
1985 Murder, She Wrote Carol Needom Episode: "Murder in the Afternoon"
1986 Kate's Secret Deyna Television film
1994 Beverly Hills, 90210 Counselor Ellen Marks Episode: "Intervention"
1995 Melrose Place Maureen Dodd Episode: "Melrose Impossible" & "A Hose by Any Other Name"
1996 Guiding Light Rachel Sullivan 4 episodes
1996 NYPD Blue Mary Donaldson Episode: "Sorry, Wrong Suspect"
1997 Caroline in the City Donna Spadaro Episode: "Caroline and the Singer"
1997 Walker, Texas Ranger Ellen Simms Episodes: "Lucas" (Parts 1 & 2)
1998 Chicago Hope Valerie Boyd Episode: "Risky Business"
1998 Viper Heidi Rosen Episode: "The Full Frankie"
1999–2001 So Weird Molly Phillips 63 episodes
Main cast (Seasons 1–3)
2000 The Outer Limits Boo Weston Episode: "Down to Earth"
2001 Kate Brasher Tracy Del Rey Episode: "Tracy"
2001 Crossing Jordan Elaine Stahler Episode "The Dawn of a New Day"
2002 Double Teamed Mary Burge Television film
2002 ER Leslie Miller Episode "Damage Is Done"
2003 The Division Carol Johnson Episode: "Thus with a Kiss I Die"
2004 Without a Trace Theresa Caldwell Episode: "Lost and Found"
2004 NYPD Blue Lorraine Stuval Episode: "Fish Out of Water"
2004 7th Heaven Allison Davies Episode: "Why Not Me?"
2005 One Day at a Time Reunion Herself / Julie Mora Cooper Horvath Television special
2007 Cold Case Sheila Swett Episode: "That Woman"
2009 Radio Needles Tonya Taylor Television film
2012 Interns: The Web Series CEO Episode: "Accepted"
2012 Criminal Minds Ellen Russell Episode: "The Pact"
2012 She Made Them Do It Jamie Long Television film
2014 Phineas and Ferb Female Judge / Jump Instructor (voice) Episode: "Act Your Age"
2014 The Daily Helpline Herself Co-Hostes Episode: "Mackenzie Phillips"
2015 Hot in Cleveland Kaylin Episode: "About a Joy"
2016–2018 Milo Murphy's Law Principal Elizabeth Milder (voice) 7 episodes
Recurring role (Seasons 1–2)
2017 Battle of the Network Stars Herself Episode: "TV Moms & Dads vs. TV Kids"
2017–2020 One Day at a Time Pam Valentine 9 episodes
Recurring role (Seasons 1–4)
2018 Orange Is The New Black Barbara "Barb" Denning 6 episodes
Recurring role (Season 6)
Year Title Role Notes
1994–98 Grease Betty Rizzo Broadway Touring Revival
1999 The Vagina Monologues Performer Westside Theatre
2001–02 A Delicate Balance Ford Theatre
2002 Same Time, Next Year Shubert Theater
2004–05 How I Learned to Drive Alex Theatre
2005–07 Annie Lily St. Regis Touring revival

Published works[edit]

  • High on Arrival (2009)
  • Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction (2017)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2001 Young Artist Awards "Best Ensemble in a TV Series (Drama or Comedy)" (shared with cast) So Weird Nominated
2005 TV Land Awards Favorite Singing Siblings (Shared with: Valerie Bertinelli) One Day at a Time Nominated
2012 LA Femme International Film Festival Meritorious Achievement Award Herself Won
2017 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series (Shared with cast) Milo Murphy's Law Nominated


  1. ^ "The New York Times". Movies & TV Dept. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  2. ^ Phillips, Mackenzie (September 23, 2009). High on Arrival. New York: Simon Spotlight Entertainment. pp. 14–16. ISBN 978-1-4391-5757-2. highland hall.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Mackenzie Phillips Biography (1959-)". The Biography Channel. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  4. ^ Baxter, John (1999). Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-3809-7833-5.
  5. ^ People Entertainment Almanac, Volume 2001 ISBN 978-1-929-04907-3 pp. 583
  6. ^ "9th Female Eye Festival Reveals Mackenzie Phillips & Alanna Masterson As Special Performance Award Recipients" (Press release). Female Eye Film Festival. March 10, 2011. Retrieved 2018-09-20 – via Skylar Entertainment.
  7. ^ "Mackenzie Phillips Joins Breathe as Addiction Counselor". KFMB-TV News (Press release). March 15, 2016. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  8. ^ "ODAAT's Mackenzie Phillips Comes Out, Has Dated Women and Men". 27 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Mackenzie Phillips arrested at LAX on suspicion of narcotics possession". The Seattle Times. Reuters. August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  10. ^ Lee, Ken (October 31, 2008). "Mackenzie Phillips Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Possession". People. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  11. ^ "Drug case dismissed against Mackenzie Phillips". USA Today. Associated Press. April 20, 2010.
  12. ^ Episode guide: The View, first aired: March 17, 2010, TV Guide
  13. ^ High on Arrival p. 110
  14. ^ a b ABC News 9/23/09
  15. ^ "New Bombshell from Mackenzie Phillips". CBS News. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  16. ^ Schmidt, Veronica (2009-09-24). "Mackenzie Phillips, daughter of Mamas and Papas star, reveals their incestuous affair". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  17. ^ "Mackenzie Phillips On Oprah: Why She Slept with Her Father and Why She Stopped". CBS News. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  18. ^ Eng, Joyce. "Mackenzie Phillips' Family Split Over Star's Incest Claims". TV Guide. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  19. ^ Everett, Cristina (2009-09-23). "Chynna Phillips recalls learning about sister Mackenzie Phillips' affair with father, John Phillips". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  20. ^ a b "Denny Doherty's Daughter Corroborates Mackenzie Phillips' Story". Retrieved September 24, 2009.

External links[edit]