Born Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills in London, England, on Thursday, April 18th, 1946, she is the daughter of the great actor Sir John Mills and the well-known novelist-playwright Mary Hayley Bell. Her sister is the actress Juliet Mills. She grew up in her parents’ home, an outgoing, funny child, and, because she spent so much time with her parents and their friends, very intelligent. When she went to boarding school at age nine, however, she became very shy around kids her own age. She found solace in theater productions at her school. She was noticed playing at her parent’s home in 1958 by director J. Lee Thompson, who immediately cast her opposite, of her father in the thriller Tiger Bay (1959). Her debut performance turned heads around the world, from Germany, where she won an award at the Berlin Film Festival, to Hollywood, when Walt Disney came knocking at her door. He signed her to a five-year contract. For her first film for the studio, Pollyanna (1960), she won critical raves, box-office success, and a special Juvenile Academy Award. Her second Disney film, The Parent Trap (1961), in which she played identical twin sisters, was by far, much more popular. She continued to appear in routine Disney films like In Search of the Castaways (1962) and Summer Magic (1963), as well as films outside the studio like Whistle Down the Wind (1961), based on her mother’s novel, and The Chalk Garden (1964), again co-starring with her father. Though Disney gave her a somewhat more adult role in the mystery film The Moon-Spinners (1964), she had begun to tire of her sunny, innocent Pollyanna image and personality. After completing That Darn Cat! (1965), she left the studio for good, (except for one more Disney movie, The Parent Trap II (1986) made 20 plus years later). That Darn Cat! (1965) was very much a success, as was her first post-Disney film, Columbia’s The Trouble with Angels (1966). Then, she shocked her fans by appearing in the comedy The Family Way (1966) with her father. There was an even bigger surprise in store when she fell in love with the film’s director, Roy Boulting, who was 33 years her senior. She lived with Boulting for five years after he divorced his wife. They married in 1971 and had a son, Crispian Mills, on Thursday, January 18th, 1973. By this time, he’d taken control of her career, and, as a result, she made many bad film choices that left critics and audiences cold. By 1976, her film career was pretty much tanked. She divorced Boulting that year and moved in with actor Leigh Lawson, with whom she had a son, Jason. They separated in 1984. She appeared in three TV-movie sequels to The Parent Trap (1961) in the late 1980’s, and also appeared in the BBC miniseries The Flame Trees of Thika (1981) and the TV series Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1987), later re-titled Saved by the Bell (1989). She hasn’t done much film work in several years, preferring to concentrate on her burgeoning career in theater. Her greatest success in theater, so far, has been the role of Anna in “The King and I”, which she has played in many touring stage productions throughout the 1990 decade.
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