Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills (born April 18, 1946) is an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning English actress.

Early Life and Career

Mills was born in London, England, the younger daughter of actor Sir John Mills and playwright Mary Hayley Bell. She is also the younger sister of actress Juliet Mills. She also is the cousin of Susie Blake, Bev Unwin in the long running ITV soap Coronation Street.

Mills was 12 when she was discovered by J. Lee Thompson, who was looking for a boy at first to play the lead role in Tiger Bay. Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian Disney, saw her performance and suggested that Mills be given the lead role in Pollyanna. That role of the “glad girl,” who moves in with her aunt, catapulted Mills to super-stardom in the United States and earned her a special Academy Award.

Disney subsequently cast Mills as twins Sharon and Susan, who reunite their divorced parents in The Parent Trap. In the film, Mills sings the hit song “Let”s Get Together.” She made four additional films for Disney in a four-year span, including In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, The Moon-Spinners and That Darn Cat!. During her six-year run at Disney, Mills was arguably the most popular child actress of the era. Critics noted that America’s favorite child star was, in fact, quite British and very lady-like. The success of “Let”s Get Together” (which hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart) also led to the release of a record album on Disney”s Buena Vista label, Let’s Get Together with Hayley Mills, which also included her only other hit song, “Johnny Jingo” (Billboard No. 21, 1962). In 1998, she was awarded the prestigious Disney Legend award by The Walt Disney Company.

In addition to her Disney movies, Mills took the lead in several other films, notably Whistle Down the Wind (based on the book of the same title written by her mother, Mary Hayley Bell), The Truth About Spring (with her real father, John Mills, cast as her father and James MacArthur as the love interest) and The Chalk Garden.

Mills was originally cast as Lolita Haze in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film version of Lolita. However, Walt Disney sent a memo to Kubrick that he felt the role was not up to Disney’s wholesome standard, and the part eventually went to Sue Lyon.

After her contract with Disney expired in 1966, Mills starred in The Trouble with Angels, opposite Rosalind Russell. Looking to break from her clean-cut, girl-next-door image, Mills went home to England to star in The Family Way. Though meant to be a light British comedy about a couple having difficulty consummating their marriage, a brief shot of Mills” bare bottom generated a certain amount of controversy upon first release, possibly because of her previous “family movie” background. Though harmless by today’s standards, The Family Way hurt Mills” film career.

She made her stage debut in a 1966 West End revival of Peter Pan. In 2000 she won a Theatre World Award for her performance in Suite in Two Keys – her off-Broadway debut.

In the mid-80s, Mills returned to The Parent Trap in a trio of TV movies: The Parent Trap II, The Parent Trap III and The Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon.

Later starring roles for Mills included the title character in the television series Good Morning, Miss Bliss (the short-lived precursor to Saved by the Bell) and as Anna Leonowens in the Australian production of The King and I. In 1981, she starred in the television mini-series The Flame Trees of Thika, based on Elspeth Huxley’s memoir of her childhood in East Africa. Mills made her Off Broadway debut in Sir Noel Coward”s Suite in Two Keys in 2000, opposite American actress Judith Ivey.

Since 2007, Mills has had a prominent role in the ITV1 Sunday night, African vet drama, Wild at Heart.

Mills has had involvement with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (the “Hare Krishna” movement). She composed the preface to the book The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, ISBN 0-9026-7707-1, published in 1984.

Personal Life

While filming The Family Way, a 20-year-old Mills met 53-year old director Roy Boulting. The two married in 1971. They owned an apartment in London’s Kensington. They then went on to purchase Cobstone Windmill in Ibstone, Buckinghamshire. The couple divorced in 1977. They had one child, Crispian Mills, who became a vocalist and lead guitarist for the band Kula Shaker. Mills later had a second son, Jason Lawson, during a relationship with British actor Leigh Lawson.

Useful Links

Hayley Mills at the Internet Movie Database

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