Golden Globe-winning actress Peggy Lipton, who represented network television’s version of the quintessential ’60s flower child as the star of the groundbreaking crime drama “The Mod Squad,” died on May 11. She was 72.
Her death from cancer was announced the day before Mother’s Day by Kidada and Rashida Jones, Lipton’s daughters from her marriage to Grammy Award-winning composer and music producer Quincy Jones.
Lipton died surrounded by her daughters and nieces at the time of her death.
“We are heartbroken that our beloved mother passed away from cancer today,” the Jones daughters said in a statement. “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. She will always be a part of us.”
On “The Mod Squad,” which ran on ABC from 1968 to 1973, Lipton played Julie Barnes, one of a trio of young counterculture types enlisted as undercover cops after their own brushes with the law. It was one of the earliest prime-time series to deal with the burning social issues of the era, including abortion, racism, the anti-war movement and police brutality.
Lipton later starred in the role of Double R Diner owner Norma Jennings on David Lynch’s cult 1990s TV series “Twin Peaks,” and appeared on its 2017 reboot.
As a singer, Lipton had hits with “Stoney End” in 1968 and “Lu” and Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” in 1970.
Born in New York City in 1946, Margaret Ann “Peggy” Lipton was raised in Woodmere, one of the iconic Five Towns of Long Island that drew a large Jewish population in the years after World War II. She grew up in an upper middle-class Reform Jewish household.
In her 2005 memoir “Breathing Out” (St. Martin’s Press), Lipton wrote that her grandparents on both sides had immigrated from Russia. Her father, Harold Lipton, was a corporate lawyer, while her mother, Rita Benson, was an artist.
In the memoir, Lipton describes their neighbors as “immigrants or refugees fleeing racism and a hostile world, all combustible nervous energy, humor, and angst.” As a result, she wrote, “Their children were spoiled.”
According to “Breathing Out,” Lipton was sexually abused by an uncle and as a result became “morbid and gloomy,” and prone to stuttering.
Lipton modeled as a teenager and began getting television roles after her family moved to Los Angeles in 1964. Her first role was on an episode of “Bewitched.”
After achieving international fame on the Aaron Spelling-produced “The Mod Squad,” Lipton admitted to having grown tired of the character by the iconic show’s fourth season. “Creatively, I’m bored, yes,” she told an interviewer. “But I’m certainly not bored with the success of it, not at all. I know what I’m doing isn’t ‘Medea,’ or even necessarily very good TV, but it’s exciting to be famous.”
In 1974, Lipton married Jones, with whom she had her two daughters, both of whom became actresses. Rashida Jones is best known for her roles in the comedy series “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Lipton and Quincy Jones divorced in 1990. She appeared in the 2018 documentary of his life, “Quincy.”
As a biracial couple, Lipton and Jones often faced “ugly” reactions, she said. Lipton once recalled that her daughters and their stepsister all “loved” attending synagogue and Passover seders, but “felt conspicuously black and out of place in Jewish Sunday school where there seemed to be only little fair-skinned white girls.”
Nonetheless, Rashida Jones declared at age 10, “I want to become the first female, Jewish, black President of the United States.”
As the Hollywood “It” girl of her generation, Lipton was romantically linked to such celebrities as Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, drummer Keith Moon of The Who, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and actor Terrence Stamp.
After returning to the entertainment field after the end of her marriage to Jones, Lipton came to be regarded as a generous and helpful mentor to younger actors, especially those who became successful — as she did — at a rather young age.
“I feel for their need to succeed and being in a business where, if you let yourself be open to its forces, it can tear you up and spit you out,” she told an interviewer in 2005. “I didn’t let that happen.”
Besides her daughters, Lipton is survived by her nine-month-old grandson, Isaiah Jones King, the son of Rashida Jones and her partner, Ezra Koening, frontman of the band Vampire Weekend.