|Hayley Mills: a golden glow|
Hayley Mills made her acting debut at the age of thirteen, when she appeared in the 1959 film Tiger Bay,with her famous actor father, John MIlls and which she won a Bafta Award for, as Best Newcomer. Originally, a boy had been planned for the role but since director, J Lee Thompson was having trouble finding the right boy, Mills suggested his daughter Hayley for the role.
Tiger Bay had an authenticity to it, which Hayley's performance enhanced and her natural charm, beauty and unaffected attitude caught the eye of Walt Disney's wife, Lilian, who suggeted her for the role of Pollyanna (1960) which led to a string of work with the Disney Studio, including The Parent Trap(1961), Summer Magic and That Darn Cat (1965).
As a young performer, Hayley proved to be very popular with baby-boomer audiences world-wide and wonan Oscar for Best Juvenile Performance for Pollyanna. Visually, the camera loved her and her soft, English wispy voice was innocently seductive. Not so great for singing however and although she made it to number 8 on the charts with the theme for The Parent Trap and had some success with a few other promotional songs, after her debut album, Let's Get Together, her singing career went not much further. Her chart success had more to do with her personal charms and popularity than her vocals.
Mills came from an established show biz family herself. Her father John Mills was already an established star long before she appeared in Tiger Bay, her elder sister Juliet Mills, is also an actress and her Mother Mary, Hayley Bell was an authoress, who wrote Whistle Down the Wind (Hayley starred in the film version),Sky West and Crooked, and The Winged Boy. Playwright Noel Coward and consumate actor Laurence Olivier were her god fathers.
Most Popular Teen of the Decade
Hayley's star rose in paralell with the sixties generation and she was in some ways an amalgamation of two eras. An attractive style and modern parlance and clothes ensured her relevance but she was also a darling of the older generation - polite, squeaky clean, respectful and mannered in a way that was reminiscent of the fifties. It was only when she began to lose her innocence and take on more adult character roles that her luminous star waned.
Hayley's Marriage to Roy Boulting
In 1971 Hayley Mills stirred the pot by marrying film direct Roy Boutling, thirty-three years hers senior. The pair had met on the set of The Family Way (1967) , which Roy directed and it was a milestone film, not only because of their relationship but it had shattered the sugary sweet, innocent image of Hayley Mills - it was her first real adult film.
Along with his identical twin brother John, Roy was a part of the directing team known as The Boulting Brothers, who produced some classic comedies in the late 1950's and 1960's. Roy and Hayley divorced in the late 1970's and produced a son, Crispian from the union. A second son, Jason Lawson, was born in 1977, the result of a subsequent relationship with British actor Leigh Lawson, who went on to marry Iconic sixties model Twiggy.
After starring in the weird little thriller,The Twisted Nerve in 1968 with Hywell Bennett, Hayley's career began to slide. Apart from the fact that she was now all grown up and a busy mother, her adult performances lacked the zing and charisma of her teen performances. Although she continued to work on stage and in the odd film, plus made-for-TVParent Trap sequels and like many fading stars, dutifully appeared onThe Love Boat (four times... she never matched those early heights of her career again. Perhaps she never felt the need to.
In the 1980's Hayley Mills returned to the small screen with a successful British miniseries The Flame Trees of Thika (1981), and keeping up the African theme, also starred in an ITV series, playing an expatriate British vet's mother-in-law in Wild at Heart(2007) .