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Mills, Hayley (1946-)


Main image of Mills, Hayley (1946-)

For a brief while in the early 1960s, the daughter of John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, and younger sister of Juliet Mills, was one of the most famous film stars in the world.

The flaxen-haired, blue-eyed charmer made her debut as the tomboy companion of a young fugitive in Tiger Bay (d. J. Lee Thompson, 1959), starring her father, in a role originally planned for a boy, and she made an instant hit, winning a British Academy Award as Most Promising Newcomer.

Disney made her a world star and she won a Special Oscar (and BAFTA nomination) for his Pollyanna (US, d. David Swift, 1960), and followed this with other box-office winners, including The Parent Trap (US, d. Swift, 1961, as twins) and The Moon-Spinners (UK/US, d. James Neilson, 1964).

She gave two further fine performances as teenagers: scared in Whistle Down the Wind (d. Bryan Forbes, 1961) and scarred in The Chalk Garden (d. Ronald Neame, 1964).

However, her virginal teenage image was wiped by her nude scene, modest as it was, in The Family Way (1966), a tender comedy of marriage problems, directed by Roy Boulting to whom Mills was married from 1971-76, after which she had a long relationship with actor Leigh Lawson (1976-84).

From the mid 1970s, film roles became sporadic, but she appeared in several TV shows, including the miniseries, The Flame Trees of Thika (1981), and scored a personal triumph on stage in 1998 in The King and I.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Tiger Bay (1959)Tiger Bay (1959)

Melodrama starring Hayley Mills as a seven-year-old witness to murder

Thumbnail image of Whistle Down The Wind (1961)Whistle Down The Wind (1961)

Bryan Forbes' directorial debut gave Hayley Mills her best-loved role

Thumbnail image of Now and Then: Hayley Mills (1967)Now and Then: Hayley Mills (1967)

Bernard Braden's interview with the former child star

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Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Boulting, Roy (1913-2001)Boulting, Roy (1913-2001)

Director, Producer, Writer

Thumbnail image of Mills, John (1908-2005)Mills, John (1908-2005)