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THE SIMPSON LEGACY: LOS ANGELES TIMES SPECIAL REPORT : Twist of Fate / HOW THE CASE CHANGED THE LIVES OF THOSE IT TOUCHED : ARLENE PARNESS : Marcia Clark Look-Alike Danced Into Spotlight

October 11, 1995|TINA DAUNT

If you made a list of fluke beneficiaries of the Simpson case, Arlene Parness would be very close to the top.

And she would be dancing.

Ever since she put on a borrowed suit, painted a beauty mark above her lip and headed for the Burbank studios of the "Tonight Show," Parness' acting career has blossomed. The once-obscure actress and dancer has found fame playing Marcia Clark for just about anyone who asks.

And a lot ask.

Since March, when she talked her way onto Jay Leno's show, she has appeared more than a dozen times, hoofing along with the Dancing Itos. She reprised Clark for a sitcom, "Parenthood." And as the trial was coming to a close, she was set to begin filming on the hit show "The Nanny."

True, it's a one-note, one-character role. She insists that she doesn't want to be typecast. "I'm hoping people will realize I can do other stuff," she said.

But it sure beats dancing with cows in milk commercials and standing around in crowd shots on second-rate television shows. That was the veteran actress's 25-year struggle for success until March, when friends persuaded her that she bore an uncanny resemblance to Clark.

She has been booked in much classier venues than the usual celebrity impersonators. She even has an agent who returns her calls.

"Doors are opening where they weren't before," said Parness, who unlike Marcia Clark refuses to reveal her age. "I'm finally being given a chance to prove myself."

Her closet is starting to look like an Ann Taylor store. And perhaps the best perk of all, strangers come up to her on the street to ask for her autograph. While some think she is the famous prosecutor, others know her true identity.

"I have what I want, so I'm a happy person," Parness said. "I feel really happy that people recognized what I was doing and appreciated my work. I feel proud of myself, that feels good."

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