Michelle and John Phillips, whose marriage was failing at the time, filed for divorce in a Los Angeles County court in May 1969, and the group officially disbanded in 1971 before the release of their final album, People Like Us, which was recorded to fulfill contract obligations with their record label.
In 1969, while still a member of the Mamas & the Papas, Phillips appeared in Gram Parsons' science fiction film Saturation 70, alongside Nudie Cohn, Anita Pallenberg and Julian Jones, the then-five-year-old son of the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones.
The festival also featured other prominent California-based counterculture musicians and psychedelic rock acts, including Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
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After returning to California and settling in Los Angeles, the group recorded their third album, The Mamas & The Papas Deliver (1967).
In June 1967, Phillips performed with the group at the Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey, California, an event organized by John Phillips and Lou Adler.
It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience for me and I had so much support and so much help and so much encouragement. Dennis' movie [The Last Movie] was a lot of improvisation and craziness." The same year, Phillips recorded vocals as a cheerleader along with Darlene Love, for the Cheech & Chong single Basketball Jones which peaked at No 15 on the Billboard singles chart.
In 1974, she was featured in the action-horror television film The California Kid opposite Martin Sheen, and also appeared briefly in a party scene with Warren Beatty in Shampoo (1975); Phillips had been dating Beatty at the time, and the appearance was a cameo.
She co-wrote some of the band's hits, including California Dreamin', which appears on their debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966).
Recording of the Mamas and the Papas' second album (eponymously titled The Mamas and the Papas (1966) and sometimes referred to as Cass, John, Michelle, Dennie, whose names appear thus above the band's name on the cover) was interrupted when Michelle Phillips became indiscreet about her affair with Gene Clark of the Byrds.
The following year, after the breakup of the Mamas & the Papas, she enrolled in acting classes in Los Angeles, and has said that she intended to start her acting career "from scratch," stating that the royalties from the band's records provided her a sustained income while she began to venture into film.
Two years later, she was cast in a lead role in the thriller film Dillinger (1973) as John Dillinger's girlfriend, Billie Frechette.
She went on to appear in numerous films throughout the 1970s including Ken Russell's Valentino (1977), playing Natacha Rambova, and the thriller Bloodline (1979).