Golden Age Star Kay Parker Dies at 78

CHATSWORTH, Calif.Kay Taylor Parker, the British-born brunette who essayed both sexual and non-sex roles in 61 adult features beginning in 1977, succumbed to one of her several health issues on Friday morning according to her neighbor James, who has been looking out for the septuagenarian actress for several years.

"She really went out on her own terms," said actress/director Veronica Hart. "I think it was probably cancer, and she made it clear she was not interested in seeing a doctor whatsoever."

Since retiring from adult film/video in 1998 after a non-sex role in Arrow Productions' Naked Angel, Parker worked as what has been described by the founders of the Golden Age Appreciation Fund as a "freelance New Age metaphysical counselor" or "life coach" to supplement her only other income, social security—a meager amount that barely allowed her to pay her rent on the one-bedroom cottage where she has lived for several years. In fact, in late September, acquaintance Gilbert Ramos set up a GoFundMe page to ask friends and supporters to help with her living expenses. (It is unclear what will happen to the funds collected so far.)

It has also been reported that over the past few years, Parker had been working on an autobiography, but it is unknown what has happened to that as-yet-unpublished manuscript.

Parker's first hardcore role happened, according to producer/director David Bertolino, almost by accident.

"She was kind of the reluctant astronaut; never meant intentionally to be in this industry," Bertolino told AVN. "It started with an accidental phone call from [the late adult legend] John Leslie, who called Kay using a wrong number, basically, and Kay said, 'Oh, no, that person no longer has that phone number,' but they chatted on the phone just the same. Kay was intrigued and so they had a series of phone calls that led up to them meeting and then John saying, 'I want you in one of my movies,' and that's how I believe her career started."

That first movie was Anthony Spinelli's classic Sex World, a filmed extravaganza featuring 12 sex scenes, that was released in 1977, with Parker providing two of those scenes, one with Jack Wright and the other with Joey Silvera.

Sex World "was my first sex role," Parker later told an interviewer. "At that time, I was fresh out of acting school; I was with an improvisational group for about a year and I was a real gung-ho actress, so what was going through my mind was just to stay in character and give the best performance and adrenaline was pumping and I was excited and my heart was going and it was just great fun."

But Parker is perhaps best known as the mother who seduces her own son, played by Mike Ranger, in the 1980 Kirdy Stevens production Taboo, which received rave reviews and led to seven sequels, though Parker herself only appeared in the first two of those.

Some of Parker's more prominent XXX appearances included 7 Into Snowy, Chorus Call, Vista Valley PTA, Body Talk, Satisfactions, Sweet Young Foxes, Command Video's Firestorm, and the first volume (1983) of Hustler Video Magazine.

"We just liked each other, and had similar sensibilities about the misogyny and abusiveness in most of the films we participated in," reflected retired star Richard Pacheco. "[One of the last movies] she ever did was Sam Weston's first video, Spectators (1984). We played a man and a woman at some kind of retreat where they were playing abusive mind games. Kay hated it, I hated it, and if it had been anybody but Sam, we wouldn't have done it. And that was her last movie. I think, after that, she said, 'I've had enough; I don't need to do this anymore.'"

"She was always the most unlikely porn star: an English rose, polite and reserved, older than most of her contemporaries, and into mystical spirituality," reflected Ashley West, creator of The Rialto Report, for which Parker sat for a videotaped interview. "She appeared bemused by her success as a sex performer, but always had time to talk about her life and spoke of everyone, especially people like Anthony Spinelli, John Leslie and Richard Pacheco, with great fondness."

"We spoke to her recently as she was experiencing health issues," he added. "As always, she was sweet, optimistic, gentle and considerate—qualities that have always been her hallmark."

In an early, undated video interview posted online by Mustafa Shaukat Ali in 2010, Parker provided some insight into her early career, noting that performing sex acts on camera "is difficult sometimes. It really depends on the situation and the person with whom I'm doing the scene. But I just adopt a couple of true-blue acting techniques and I just really connect with something in my partner and just get right into him and I just forget about everything else.

"My favorite way to perform sex? Sensually with much love, with feeling," she added, "because anything else is just totally unconvincing in terms of ... sex to me goes hand-in-hand with sensuality, sensitivity, communication. That's just me as a person, and so for me, that has to be in a scene, a sex scene that I might perform also."

Several contemporaries with whom AVN spoke emphasized Parker's generosity and kindness, and Pacheco provided one example:

"Dancers was the first movie I was in with Kay, though she was John Leslie's love interest in that, and my stripping routine was, they constructed a shower on the stage, and I took a shower there, and they wanted me to have a hard-on in the shower, and I was having no luck getting there by myself in front of 40 or 50 people, but the next thing I know, Kay is on her knees in front of me, saying, 'Need some help, love?' And she took me in her mouth and gave me my erection back. That was my introduction to Kay Parker."

Later, Pacheco had further thoughts on the actress.

"I loved her; I still do," he told AVN, reading from a prepared statement. "Kay Parker was unique in the business. She had a natural immunity about her, a true heart that made the beast of pornography stand down. She was like the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. We worked together three or four times in all, and were usually lucky enough to find whatever magic we needed to transcend whatever manure they were throwing at us. We allowed each other dignity and humanity. We had the grace to appreciate each other. We brought the best parts of ourselves to the dance, and never had to apologize to anybody about anything ever. Kay Parker was Hall of Fame stuff, and one of the best people that ever happened to the X-rated business."

Parker's last on-camera sexual performance was in Video-X-Pix's Careful He May Be Watching (1987), co-directed by Pacheco himself and classic star Seka, with whom Parker performed that final scene. However, even after retiring from performing, Parker remained active in the adult industry.

"Apart from her film roles, Kay also became a prominent spokesperson for the business, appearing on television, college campuses and in magazines, passionately defending the rights of the filmmakers and the performers," Ashley West noted. "She is remembered with great fondness and respect by all who worked with her, including such luminaries as Seka, Eric Edwards and Richard Pacheco.

"Kay was featured in the book Golden Goddesses by Jill Nelson (Bear Manor Media), and interviewed for The Rialto Report podcast, where both her appearances received much positive attention proving that she is still remembered and loved by her many fans."

In fact, Parker was one of several classic actresses who appeared at a 2012 event promoting Golden Goddesses at the Hustler Hollywood store along with Serena, Amber Lynn, Ginger Lynn, Laurie Holmes (widow of John), Veronica Hart, Annie Sprinkle, Nina Hartley, Christy Canyon, Kelly Nichols, Sharon Mitchell, Rhonda Jo Petty and softcore star Kitten Natividad (who also just passed at the end of last month, according to The Rialto Report).

Parker was also one of the featured actresses to take part in a series of shows, also titled "Golden Goddesses," that Bertolino put on at Los Angeles venue the Cupcake Theater in 2018.

"We had a speaker on board and a pretty well-packed audience, who got to meet and greet their favorite performers, and she was one of the highlights of that series," Bertolino stated. "She was refreshing and kind, and when it came to the talk-back sessions, she didn't hold back; she was very open about her involvement in the industry and how she enjoyed it."

It seems safe to say that no one who knew her had a bad word to say about Kay Parker.

"What a wonderful, kind gracious, beautiful, wonderful woman Kay was," Hart opined. "She elevated everything she did. She made everything better because of her being in it. She was just a wonderful, wonderful woman, a good person, good heart, good soul, and we certainly miss her."

"She was a very sweet person, beautiful person," recalled John Seeman, an occasional Parker costar. "I had a crush on her, I remember, and was fortunate enough to share a house with her in Mill Valley in about 1978. I considered her a friend. I had a lot of respect for her, and I admired her search for something that would satisfy her curiosity about things in the world and I remember her teaching me something as a life coach but I don't remember what that is right now, but I do have very fond memories of her. I'm very sorry this happened."

"I didn't often touch base with Kay, but the times I worked with her, I found her charming, inventive, very brilliant and cooperative beyond the pale," recalled Georgina Spelvin. "She was always there to help everyone that she could, and I enjoyed knowing her very much."

"Kay Parker was one of the kindest people that I have ever met on this planet," Bertolini flatly stated. "She truly was such a warmhearted, wonderful sport and greatly missed by Cindy and I. We greatly enjoyed her coming to the many events we've hosted here in our backyard. She never said a bad word about anybody. She was always very kind and open-hearted and always wanted to be helpful. Bill Margold adored her, and if he were on earth today, he would be so distraught and saddened by Kay's passing."

Kay Taylor Parker was born August 28, 1944 in Birmingham, England.

Photo of Kay Parker by Kenji