Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Hayley Mills!

   Former British MP and Iraq War critic George Gallaway and I are approximately the same age, he being a little more than a year older than I am. We're both ruggedly handsome and virile. And we have something else in common as well.
   The English actress Hayley Mills was our first love.
   Gallaway admitted it in 2008. I think this is the first time I have ever done so, unless I happened to mention the fact as it happened, when I was nine or ten years old, to my mother, or Aunt Alice, or some other sympathetic feminine ear.
   I don't know about love really. I was certainly infatuated and remember thinking about her quite a bit. I certainly had what one could call a significant "crush," on the beautiful and talented young lady.
   Much to her relief, I'm sure, that crush evaporated at some point, not to be replaced until a few years later by the saucy, blonde 5th grader, Ms. April Ralston.
   Didn't get anywhere with her either.
   At least I could talk to her... whenever I struck up the courage. I could never talk to Hayley. Not that she was emotionally unavailable to me... she was just unavailable period. I've never met her or talked to her at all actually.
   That makes me sad.
   In any case it is my great honor and pleasure to give my first crush a great big happy birthday shout out, and I might as well do it today because today's her birthday!
   Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills was born at a very early age in London, England. London is famous for... well, it's famous for a whole bunch of things really, too many to mention... I'd really rather not go into it, and am sorry I brought it up.
   Her mom and dad were famous before she was. John Mills was a very successful actor of stage and screen. He was so successful he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1960, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth 16 years later, which is a very big to-do in England. Everyone wants to be knighted, which would make you a knight. I wouldn't mind even.
   Hayley's mom, Mary Hayley Bell, was a famous playwright, novelist, and actress (her novel "Whistle Down the Wind," was made into a film in 1961 (starring daughter Hayley) and an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in 1996. John and Mary both lived long, fulfilled lives, each passing away just 7 years ago, in 2005 (John, in April, at age 97, and Mary in December, at age 94). 
   Hayley's older sister, Juliet Mills, is also a famous actress, who co-starred in the popular American sit-com, "Nanny and the Professor," among many other vehicles, on stage and screen.
   I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge here.
   The English film director, J. Lee Thompson discovered Hayley when she was just 12 years old. At the time he was casting for an upcoming film, "Tiger Bay," which starred Hayley's dad, John. He was looking for a boy to fill the role of a witness to a murder, but upon coming across Hayley, decided to change the part to that of a girl, and gave her the role.
   "Being cast in Tiger Bay was quite fortuitous. I was a weekly boarder at Elmhurst and I was home one weekend when the American director J. Lee Thompson came to talk to Daddy about playing the detective inspector in the film. He'd interviewed lots of boys all over the country to play the child and hadn't found anyone suitable.
   My favourite pastime back then was mimicking television commercials like Palmolive and Pepsodent and Murray Mints. I don't think I was a show-off but I was high-spirited. And I suppose J. Lee Thompson must have suddenly thought that the part in the film didn't have to be played by a boy. It could be a girl. Me.
   That decision changed my life and, of course, had a profound effect on my education. By the time I went to Hollywood to make films for Walt Disney, I knew the three Rs but not much else."
   Walt Disney, the famous animator, amusement park founder, and motion picture studio chief and producer, was married. His wife was named Lillian. I don't know why. She saw Hayley's performance in "Tiger Bay," and suggested to old Walt that Hayley get the lead role in his upcoming "Pollyanna." Walt was afraid of his wife, so he did cast her, and here's a clip of the result:
   The role launched Hayley to super-stardom in the United States and earned her a special Academy Award, actually, the last "Juvenile Award" awarded at the Academy Awards.
   Her dad John had to wait 40 years to get his first and only Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor in 1970s, "Ryan's Hope."
   John and Hayley became the first father/daughter Academy Award couple, which sounds kind of incestuous if you ask me, but that's the way it is. Jon Voight/Angelina Jolie, Henry and Jane Fonda, are the only other father/daughter couples to win Academy Awards for acting. Walter and Angelica Huston is the only grandfather/granddaughter to win in that category.
   As interesting as all of this maybe... let's move on.
   Walt signed Hayley to a five year contract. That's how they did it back then. No independent contractors who could negotiate for themselves as they do today. Good for the studios and producers, somewhat good for the actors... to a point, and not good as far as money was concerned.
   Hayley's next role for Disney utilized all of that fancy technology they had in 1961, when she played twins in the classic, "The Parent Trap," which also starred two of my favorite actors and actresses, the underrated Brain Keith, and the lovely Maureen O'Hara.
   In the film, Hayley sings the song "Let's Get Together," which became a big hit. That's the song in the clip underneath Hayley's picture above.
   She made four other films for Walt, my two favorite being 1962s "In Search of the Castaways," and "That Darn Cat," in 1965.
   Back in 62, when Hayley was 16 years old, she was offered a job from my favorite director, Stanley Kubrick, as Lolita Haze in "Lolita," with James Mason and Peter Sellers. Disney and Hayley's parents urged her not to take the part because of the sexual nature of the role, a 14 year old girl being pursued and acquired by an adult man. Sue Lyon got the part instead. In later years, Hayley admitted that she regretted not doing it.
   So do I.
   She worked in other films as well, like the above mentioned "Whistle Down the Wind," and "The Truth About Spring," with her dad (they would make four films together).
   After her Disney contract ended she had a big hit with 1966s "The Trouble With Angels," with Rosalind Russell, and "The Family Way," with her dad and which was directed by Roy Boulting, who Hayley married five years later despite a 33 year age difference. They had one son, Crispian Mills, who became the lead singer and guitarist for the psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker, which I've never heard of. And I don't have a clue as to why Crispian's last name is Mills rather than Boulting, maybe due to some obscure European custom, who knows?
   Hayley and Roy divorced in 1977. She has not married since.
   After her appearance in 1975s in "The Kingfisher Caper," she dropped out of the film industry for a few years, and she has yet to regain the worldwide prominence she enjoyed when younger.
   Hayley returned to acting in 1981, to stage, screen, and television, and has remained active ever since.
   She starred in the British sit-com "Good Morning Miss Bliss," in 1988, which would magically transform itself into the American sit-com "Saved by the Bell." How did this happen? Magic!
   She just ended her role in the British television series, "Wild at Heart," March 11th of this year, 39 days ago, after seven seasons. She worked with her sister, Juliet, as her sister for one season.
   She had another son, survived breast cancer, is into the "Hare Krishna" movement, like me and Woody Allen.
   And she's done a whole bunch of other things as well, and is still doing them.
   She may be doing them at this very moment for all we know.
   But the important thing to remember here, dear readers, is that everyone here at Joyce's Take, wish my first love, Ms. Hayley Mills, and her lovely and talented family and loved ones, continued good fortune and health... and of course, a very happy birthday.
   Happy birthday Hayley!


  1. She is probably an herald for all our generation through the after war western world

  2. Indeed, I personally rediscovered her through
    the web.
    As I am french speaking, I had some remembering of her mischievous nose.
    She is really nice and talentuous.
    A nice person I would have known