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Haley Mills - A Disney Favorite

Hayley Mills was born on  April 18, 1946 in Marylebone, London. The daughter of Sir John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, and younger sister of actress Juliet Mills, 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 she won the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her performance. It was Bill Anderson, one of Walt Disney's producers, who saw her performance and suggested that she be given the lead role in Pollyanna. The role of the orphaned "glad girl" who moves in with her aunt. This film 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.

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. She made four additional films for Disney in a four-year span, including In Search of the Castaways and Summer Magic. Her final two Disney films, The Moon-Spinners and That Darn Cat!, did very well at the box office.

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 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.

In addition to her Disney films, Mills starred in several other films, notably Whistle Down the Wind, 1961 (based on the book of the same title written by her mother, Mary Hayley Bell), with Alan Bates, The Truth About Spring (with her father, John Mills, cast as her father and James MacArthur as the love interest), and The Chalk Garden, 1964 (from the play by Enid Bagnold).

In 1962 Disney announced plans to film I Capture the Castle, from the novel by Dodie Smith, with Hayley Mills in the role of Cassandra. However, Disney never produced the film.

She now lives in London and has two sons, Crispian Mills, and Jason Lawson.

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1 comment

  • Dear Haley. This is an FYI and a thank you note. Some 55 years ago I saw Parent Trap. I was so taken by your scene with the guitar. I didn’t know girls could play guitar. Three years later I got my first guide taught myself how to play and I been playing ever since. It has been a great source of joy to me and I thank you for this inspiration. I figure it’s never too late to write a fan letter, or to read one my sisters and I are ardent fans of yours. For my 13th birthday all I wanted was a “trip to see Haley Mills” I did get the 45 “Let’s get together” anyhow have a wonderful day and thanks again. We are always looking for movies of yours to watch

    Jan Rosenberg

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