Hayley Mills

Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills (born 18 April 1946) is an English actress. The daughter of Sir John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, and younger sister of actress Juliet Mills, Mills began her acting career as a child and was hailed as a promising newcomer, winning the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her performance in the British crime drama film Tiger Bay (1959), the Academy Juvenile Award for Disney's Pollyanna (1960) and Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress in 1961. During her early career, she appeared in six films for Walt Disney, including her dual role as twins Susan and Sharon in the Disney film The Parent Trap (1961). Her performance in Whistle Down the Wind (a 1961 adaptation of the novel written by her mother) saw Mills nominated for BAFTA Award for Best British Actress.

Hayley Mills
Mills in 2018
Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills

(1946-04-18) 18 April 1946
Marylebone, London, England
EducationElmhurst Ballet School
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1959–present
Roy Boulting
(m. 1971; div. 1977)
Partner(s)Leigh Lawson (1975–1984)
Firdous Bamji (1997–present)
Children2, including Crispian Mills
Parent(s)Sir John Mills
Mary Hayley Bell
RelativesJuliet Mills (sister)

During the late 1960s Mills began performing in theatrical plays, and played in more mature roles. The age of contracts with studios soon passed. For her success with Disney she received the Disney Legend Award. Although she has not maintained the box office success or the Hollywood A-list she experienced as a child actress, she has continued to make films and TV appearances, including a starring role in the UK television mini-series The Flame Trees of Thika in 1981, the title role in Disney's television series Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1988, and as Caroline, a main character in Wild at Heart (2007–2012) on ITV in the UK.

Early life and career

Mills was born in Marylebone, London. She was 12 when she was discovered by J. Lee Thompson, who was initially looking for a boy to play the lead role in Tiger Bay, which co-starred her father, veteran British actor Sir John Mills. The movie was popular at the box office in Britain.[1]


Bill Anderson, one of Walt Disney's producers, saw Tiger Bay and suggested that Mills be given the lead role in Pollyanna.[2] The role of the orphaned "glad girl" who moves in with her aunt catapulted Mills to stardom in the United States and earned her a special Academy Award (the last person to receive the Juvenile Oscar). Because Mills could not be present to receive the trophy, Annette Funicello accepted it for her.[3]

Disney subsequently cast Mills as twins Sharon and Susan who reunite their divorced parents in The Parent Trap. In the film, Mills sings "Let's Get Together" as a duet with herself. The film was a hit around the world, reaching number 8 on a US TOP TEN list.[4]

Mills received an offer to make a film in Britain for Bryan Forbes, Whistle Down the Wind (1961), about some children who believe an escaped convict is Jesus. It was a hit at the British box office and Mills was voted the biggest star in Britain for 1961.[5]

Mills was offered the title role in Lolita by Stanley Kubrick but her father turned it down. "I wish I had done it," she said in 1962. "It was a smashing film."[6]

Mills returned to Disney for an adventure film, In Search of the Castaways (1962) based on a novel by Jules Verne. It was another popular success and Mills would be voted the fifth biggest star in the country for the next two years.[7]

In 1963 Disney announced plans to film I Capture the Castle, from the novel by Dodie Smith, with Hayley Mills in the role of Cassandra.[8] However, Disney never produced the film.

Her fourth movie for Disney did less well though was still successful, Summer Magic (1963), a musical adaptation of the novel Mother Carey's Chickens.

Ross Hunter hired her for a British-American production, The Chalk Garden (1964), playing a girl who torments governess Deborah Kerr. Back at Disney she was in a film about jewel thieves, The Moon-Spinners (1964), getting her first on screen kiss from Peter McEnery.[9][10]

Mills had a change of pace with Sky West and Crooked (1965), set in the world of gypsies, written by her mother and directed by her father.[11] It was not very popular. In contrast, her last film with Disney, the comedy That Darn Cat!, did very well at the box office.[12]

During her six-year run at Disney, Mills was arguably the most popular child actress of the era. Critics noted that America's favourite child star was, in fact, quite British and very ladylike. The success of "Let's Get Together" (which hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, No. 17 in Britain and No. 1 in Mexico) 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 1962 British exhibitors voted her the most popular film actress in the country.[13]

Post-Disney film career

For Universal, Mills made another movie with her father, The Truth About Spring (1965), co-starring Disney regular James MacArthur as her love interest. It was mildly popular. However The Trouble with Angels (1966), was a huge hit; Mills played as a prankish Catholic boarding school girl with "scathingly brilliant" schemes, opposite screen veteran Rosalind Russell, and directed by another Hollywood veteran, Ida Lupino. She then provided a voice for The Daydreamer (1966).

Roy Boulting

Shortly thereafter, Mills appeared alongside her father and Hywel Bennett in director Roy Boulting's critically acclaimed film The Family Way (1966), a comedy about a couple having difficulty consummating their marriage, featuring a score by Paul McCartney and arrangements by Beatles producer George Martin. She began a romantic relationship with Roy Boulting, and they eventually married in 1971.[14]

She then starred as the protagonist of Pretty Polly (1967), opposite famous Indian film actor Shashi Kapoor in Singapore.

Mills made another movie for Boulting, the controversial horror thriller Twisted Nerve in 1968, along with her Family Way co-star Hywel Bennett. She made a comedy, Take a Girl Like You (1970) with Oliver Reed, and made her West End debut in The Wild Duck in 1970.[15] She worked for Boulting again on Mr. Forbush and the Penguins (1971), replacing the original female lead.[16]

In 1972 Mills again acted opposite Hywel Bennett in Endless Night along with Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson and George Sanders. It is based on the novel Endless Night by Agatha Christie. She made two films for Sidney Hayers, What Changed Charley Farthing? (1974) and Deadly Strangers (1975). After The Kingfisher Caper in 1975, co-written by Boulting, Mills dropped out of the film industry for a few years.[17]

Television resurgence and reception

In 1981 Mills returned to acting with a starring role in the UK television mini-series The Flame Trees of Thika, based on Elspeth Huxley's memoir of her childhood in East Africa. The series was well received, prompting Mills to accept more acting roles. She then returned to America and made two appearances on The Love Boat.

Always welcomed at Disney, Mills narrated an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney, sparking renewed interest in her Disney work. In 1985, Mills was originally considered to voice Princess Eilonwy in Disney's 25th animated feature film The Black Cauldron but was later replaced by the veteran British voice actress Susan Sheridan. Later, Mills reprised her roles as twins Sharon and Susan for a trio of Parent Trap television films: The Parent Trap II, Parent Trap III, and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon. Mills also starred as the title character in the Disney Channel-produced television series Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1987. The show was cancelled after 13 episodes and the rights were acquired by NBC, which reformatted Good Morning, Miss Bliss into Saved by the Bell. In recognition of her work with The Walt Disney Company, Mills was awarded the Disney Legends award in 1998.[18]

Mills recalled her childhood in the 2000 documentary film Sir John Mills' Moving Memories which was directed by Marcus Dillistone and produced by her brother Jonathan. In 2005 Mills appeared in the acclaimed short film, Stricken, written and directed by Jayce Bartok. In 2007 she began appearing as Caroline in the ITV1 African vet drama, Wild at Heart; her sister Juliet Mills was a guest star in series 4 of the drama.

In 2010 Mills appeared in Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure, based on one of the popular Mandie novels of Lois Gladys Leppard.

Stage career

Mills made her stage debut in a 1966 West End revival of Peter Pan. In 2000 she made her Off-Broadway debut in Sir Noël Coward's Suite in Two Keys, opposite American actress Judith Ivey, for which she won a Theatre World Award. In 1991 she appeared as Anna Leonowens in the Australian production of The King and I. In December 2007, for their annual birthday celebration of "The Master", The Noël Coward Society invited Mills as the guest celebrity to lay flowers in front of Coward's statue at New York's Gershwin Theatre, thereby commemorating the 108th birthday of Sir Noel.

In 1997, Mills starred in the U.S. national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I.[19]

In 2012 Mills starred as Ursula Widdington in the stage production of Ladies in Lavender at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, before embarking on a national UK tour.

In 2015, Mills toured Australia with sister Juliet Mills and Juliet’s husband, Maxwell Caulfield, in the comedy Legends! by James Kirkwood.

Mills starred[20] in the 2018 Off-Broadway run of Isobel Mahon's Party Face at City Center.

Personal life

In 1966 while filming The Family Way, the 20-year-old Mills met 53-year-old director Roy Boulting. The two were married 1971-77, owning a flat in London's Chelsea and Cobstone Windmill in Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, which was later sold.[21] Their son, Crispian Mills, is the lead singer and guitarist for the raga rock band Kula Shaker. The couple divorced in 1977.

Mills later had a second son, Jason Lawson,[22] during a relationship with British actor Leigh Lawson.[23]

Mills' partner since 1997 is actor and writer Firdous Bamji, who is 20 years her junior.[24]

Mills had involvement with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (the "Hare Krishna" movement).[25] She wrote the preface to the book, The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, published in 1984. However, in a 1997 article of People magazine, Mills stated that "she is 'not a part of Hare Krishna', though she delved into Hinduism and her own Christianity for guidance."[26]

In 1988 Mills co-edited, with Marcus Maclaine, the book My God, which consisted of brief letters from celebrities on their beliefs, or lack thereof, regarding God and the afterlife. Mills has been a pescetarian since the late 1990s.[27]

On 18 April 2008, Mills was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and started, but quickly abandoned, chemotherapy after only three sessions due to the severity of side effects. Mills credits her survival to the alternative treatments she tried out. She told Good Housekeeping magazine in January 2012 that she had fully recovered.[24]

Mills is a trustee of the children's arts charity Anno's Africa.

References to Mills sometimes appear in fiction and music. The 1985 song 'Goodbye Lucille' by the British band Prefab Sprout refers in passing to Mills.



Year Title Role Notes
1959 Tiger Bay Gillie Evans Won BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
1960 Pollyanna Pollyanna Whittier Won an Academy Juvenile Award
1961 The Parent Trap Susan Evers / Sharon McKendrick
1961 Whistle Down the Wind Kathy Bostock
1962 In Search of the Castaways Mary Grant
1963 Summer Magic Nancy Carey
1964 The Chalk Garden Laurel
1964 The Moon-Spinners Nikky Ferris
1965 The Truth About Spring Spring Tyler Alternative titles: The Pirates of Spring Cove and Miss Jude
1965 Sky West and Crooked Brydie White Alternative title: Gypsy Girl
1965 That Darn Cat! Patricia "Patti" Randall
1966 The Trouble with Angels Mary Clancy
1966 The Daydreamer The Little Mermaid Voice role
1966 The Family Way Jenny Fitton
1967 Pretty Polly Polly Barlow Alternative title: A Matter of Innocence
1968 Twisted Nerve Susan Harper
1970 Take a Girl Like You Jenny Bunn
1971 Mr. Forbush and the Penguins Tara St. John Luke Alternative title: Cry of the Penguins
1972 Endless Night Fenella 'Ellie' Thomsen
1975 Deadly Strangers Belle Adams
1975 The Kingfisher Caper Tracey Van Der Byl Alternative title: Diamond Hunters and Diamond Lust
1974 What Changed Charley Farthing? Jenny Alternative title: The Bananas Boat
1988 Appointment with Death Miss Quinton
1990 After Midnight Sally Ryan
1994 A Troll in Central Park Hillary Voice role
2004 2BPerfectlyHonest Terri
2005 Stricken Hildy Short film
2010 Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure Mary Elizabeth Taft
2011 Foster Mrs. Lange Alternative title: Angel in the House

Box office ranking

  • 1961 – most popular star at the UK box office
  • 1962 – 20th most popular star in the US, 5th most popular in the UK
  • 1963 – 15th most popular star in the US, 5th most popular star in the UK
  • 1964 – 14th most popular star in the US


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Thriller Samantha Miller Episode: "Only a Scream Away"
1979 The Love Boat Cheryl Tyson Episode: "Designated Lover"
1980 Saturday Night at the Mill Herself - Guest host
1980 The Love Boat Leila Stanhope Episode: "Haven't We Met Before?"
1981 The Flame Trees of Thika Tilly Grant Miniseries (7 episodes)
1983 Tales of the Unexpected Claire Hawksworth Episode: "A Sad Loss"
1984 The Storybook Series with Hayley Mills Herself - Host 13 episodes
1985 The Love Boat Dianne Tipton Episodes: "The Perfect Divorce" (Parts 1 & 2)
1986 The Parent Trap II Susan Carey / Sharon Ferris Movie
1986 Murder, She Wrote Cynthia Tate Episode: "Unfinished Business"
1986 Amazing Stories Joan Simmons Episode: "The Greibble"
1987–89 Good Morning, Miss Bliss Miss Carrie Bliss Main role (14 episodes)
1989 Parent Trap III Susan Evers / Sharon Grand Movie
1989 Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon Susan Wyatt / Sharon Grand Movie
1990 Back Home Mrs. Peggy Dickinson Movie
2007–12 Wild at Heart Caroline Du Plessis Regular role (39 episodes)
2014 Midsomer Murders Lizzy Thornfield Episode: "Wild Harvest"
2014 Moving On Madge Episode: "Madge"
2019 Pitching In Iona Main cast


Year Title Role Notes
1969 Peter Pan Peter Pan
1970 Three Sisters Irina
1970 The Wild Duck Hedvig
1972 Trelawny of the 'Wells' Rose Trelawny
1975 A Touch of Spring Alison
1977 Rebecca Mrs. De Winter
1978 My Fat Friend
1979 The Importance of Being Earnest Gwendolina
1980 The Summer Party
1982 Tally's Folly Sally
1983 Dial M for Murder Margot Wendice
1985 Toys in the Attic Carrie
1991 The Kidnap Game
1991 The King and I Anna
1992 Fallen Angels
1994 A Midsummer Night's Dream
1994 Hamlet Gertrude
1994 The Card Countess of Chell
1995 Dead Guilty Margaret
1997 The King and I Anna
2000 Two Can Play
2001 A Little Night Music[28] Desiree National tour
2015 Cinderella-Pantomime[29] Fairy Godmother
2015 Legends![30] Leatrice Monsee With Juliet Mills
2018 Party Face[31] Carmel

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result
1959 Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury[32] Tiger Bay Won
1961 BAFTA Awards Best British Actress[33] Pollyanna Nominated
1961 Laurel Awards Top Female New Personality Won
1961 Academy Award Juvenile Award[3] Pollyanna Won
1961 Golden Globe Award New Star of the Year – Actress[34] Won
1962 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy[35] The Parent Trap Nominated
1962 BAFTA Awards Best British Actress[36] Whistle Down the Wind Nominated
1964 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy[37] Summer Magic Nominated


  1. J. LEE THOMPSON DISCUSSES CAREER: 'GUNS OF NAVARONE' DIRECTOR TOOK DEVIOUS PATH TO FILMS By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 July 1961: 18.
  2. Leonard Mosley (1990). Disney's World. Scarborough House. pp. 257–8. ISBN 9781589796560.
  3. "The 33rd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  4. "Hayley Mills busily happy". The Australian Women's Weekly. 30 (8). 25 July 1962. p. 3 (Teenagers Weekly). Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  5. Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin, 1993 p29
  6. HOLLYWOOD STAPLE: Hayley and Mrs. Mills View Family Feature The Varsity Change of Pace Partial Solution By LARRY GLENN. New York Times 9 Sep 1962: 137.
  7. "Most Popular Films Of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
  8. "THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY Presents Teenagers WEEKLY". The Australian Women's Weekly. 30 (38). 20 February 1963. p. 1 (Teenagers' Weekly). Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "The Day Hayley got in a Hearse", Photoplay, August 1964
  10. "WORK AND FUN ON A LOVELY ISLAND". The Australian Women's Weekly. 31 (32). 8 January 1964. p. 9 (Teenagers' Weekly). Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "AS ENGLISH AS MARMALADE". The Australian Women's Weekly. 34 (52). 24 May 1967. p. 5. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "misslennon2.tripod.com". misslennon2.tripod.com. 20 March 1964. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  13. "THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY Presents Teenagers WEEKLY". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 20 February 1963. p. 65 Supplement: Teenagers' Weekly. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  14. "He's just like a big, warm peach". The Australian Women's Weekly. 40 (37). 14 February 1973. p. 4. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "Hayley on stage". The Canberra Times. 45 (12, 746). 12 November 1970. p. 40. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  16. Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin Paperbacks, 1993 p 221-222
  17. "infoplease.com/biography". Infoplease.com. 18 April 1946. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  18. "Hayley Mills". D23.
  19. "Entertainment & the Arts | Hayley Mills, Adult At Last, In 'King And I' | Seattle Times Newspaper". community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  20. "Party Face, Starring Oscar Winner Hayley Mills, Opens Off-Broadway - Playbill". Playbill. 22 January 2018.
  21. "HAYLEY MILLS... MOTHER OF CRISPIAN". The Australian Women's Weekly. 41 (3). 20 June 1973. p. 8. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  22. Rebecca Fletcher (12 December 2015). "Actress Hayley Mills: where is she now - Life - Life & Style". Daily Express.
  23. "THE END OF TWO MARRIAGES". The Australian Women's Weekly. 44 (8). 28 July 1976. p. 30. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  24. Elisa Roche Showbusiness Editor (4 January 2012). "My secret triumph over breast cancer by actress Hayley Mills". Express.co.uk.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  25. Daily Mail 19 June 1984
  26. Foege, Alec. "Pollyanna at 50", People, 7 April 1997. Retrieved on 14 August 2014.
  27. Rachel Corcoran (8 March 2012). "Hayley Mills: My father was an inspiration to me". Mail Online. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  28. Adcock, Joe (23 September 2001). "'Night' falls flat in music department". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  29. Wintle, Angela (8 November 2015). "Time and Place: Hayley Mills". Sunday Times (London).
  30. Blake, Jason (24 June 2015). "Legends! review: Hayley and Juliet Mills shine but this star vehicle fades fast".
  31. Teeman, Tim (23 January 2018). "Hayley Mills Sets a New Parent Trap: Review of 'Party Face'". The Daily Beast.
  32. "PRIZES & HONOURS 1959". berlinale.de. Archived from the original on 1 May 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  33. "British Actress in 1961". BAFTA. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  34. "Winners & Nominees 1961". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  35. "Winners & Nominees 1962". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  36. "British Actress in 1962". BAFTA. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  37. "Winners & Nominees 1964". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 5 September 2019.

Further reading

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., p. 158.
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