it's not surprising that at first glance, the parents of Mackenzie
Phillips seem like a mismatched pair: Her mother worked at the
Pentagon; her father was in a rock and roll band. The couple
divorced before Phillips was two, and her dad, John Phillips,
would send a limo to her mother's condo in Tarzana, outside of Los
Angeles, to take the little girl for the weekend. When she
arrived, her father's houseguests would often be band members from
the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
"I would go home to my beautiful mother in the Valley, and
I would have to sit up straight and use the proper fork,"
Phillips has said. "From there, I'd go back to my dad's house
and he would teach me how to roll joints and those guys would all
be laying around. You know, it was just really different
lifestyles." Indeed, the girl had already smoked pot and
dropped acid by the time she was 12.
a preteen, Phillips formed her own rock band, and the group
strutted its stuff at The Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard on
amateur night. A casting agent for "American Graffiti"
spotted the youngster, and a new career was born. Around the same
time, Phillips also left home; she ran away to her father's house
in a taxi. When she asked what the house rules were, John
Phillips, according to her, responded: "You have to come home
at least one night a week. And if you come home after dawn, never
come home in the same clothes you left because that's
Given that mandate and the nature of the times, it's not
surprising that her teen years were truly wild, marked both by
tragedy (she was raped at knifepoint at age 14), a very brief
marriage and excess. Cast in the hugely successful series
"One Day at a Time" when she was only 15, she continued
to drink and use drugs heavily, and her behavior was heavily
reported in the press. She was fired from the sitcom, but
eventually she was rehired.
She drank brandy on
the way to the detox center, a dealer delivered coke to her in
detox, and she broke into the hospital's crash cart to steal an IV
and needle. Despite all this, she stayed there and eventually got
the drugs out of her system. She has been clean for nearly a
Phillips decided to get clean. Her reason? "I just believe
that there is a power greater than myself, so I got on the phone
and called a doctor who had helped me years before, and I said, 'I
need to be in detox by sundown!'"
"My life is better than it has ever been," she says.
"If it never gets better than it is at this moment, if I am
never more successful than I am right now, that's OK with