Michelle Phillips, the ex-wife of the late John Phillips, says her stepdaughter Mackenzie Phillips is lying about having an incestuous affair with her father.
I spoke to Michelle this morning by phone; she has not read Mackenzie’s book, published today, called “High on Arrival.” Michelle Phillips says that in 1997, Mackenzie told everyone in their extended family that she and her father, Michelle’s famous former husband, had had a sexual relationship.
“She told me, then she called me back and said, ‘You know I’m joking,’ ” Michelle told me. “I said it wasn’t funny. Mackenzie said, ‘I guess we have different senses of humor.’ ”
Michelle and John Phillips were the foundation of the great ’60s singing group the Mamas and the Papas, along with Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty. Their repertoire of sunny hits included “Calfornia Dreamin’,” “Monday Monday,” and “I Saw Her Again Last Night.” Mackenzie and her brother were born before the group formed, and before Michelle and John were married. Their brief marriage ended in 1968, with Michelle — a beauty — going on to several well-publicized romances and a successful acting career. John’s career, however, had no traction after the Mamas and the Papas, and his life devolved into a drug-fueled catastrophe.
Mackenzie alleges in her book that she and John had sex for the first time when she was 19, on the eve of her own first marriage. Four years later, she writes, they had a full-blown affair.
Mackenzie writes: “My father abused me but he wasn’t a monster. He was a tortured man who led a tortured existence.” She adds that she waited until now to admit this because she didn’t want to wreck his legacy.
Michelle Phillips responded, when I read her that: “She’s really protecting his legacy now, isn’t she?”
It’s not like Michelle Phillips hasn’t been critical of John in the past. She told me: “John was a bad parent, and a drug addict. But [expletive deleted] his daughter? If she thinks it’s true, why isn’t she with a good psychiatrist on a couch? I think it’s unconscionable that Oprah would let her do her show. I have every reason to believe it’s untrue. Oprah should be more judicious about who she has on her show.”
Michelle added: “Mackenzie has a lot of mental illness. She’s had a needle stuck up her arm for 35 years. She was arrested for heroin and coke just recently. She did ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and now she writes a book. The whole thing is timed.” Michelle said it’s particularly ironic since her own daughter, Chynna, of Wilson Phillips fame, Mackenzie’s half sister, is releasing a new album this week.
“Mackenzie is jealous of her siblings, who have accomplished a lot and did not become drug addicts.”