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Icon Hayley Mills Reveals The Real Walt Disney

Iconic actress Hayley Mills was one of the biggest child stars of the 1960s and 1970s, with roles in Pollyanna and The Parent Trap. Her innocence and infectious smile helped make her one of Walt Disney’s first big stars.

But life after the spotlight was a challenge, and the now 75-year-old Mills shares her life story in her upcoming memoir Forever Young. She sat down to discuss [1] the book, her life, and her relationship with Walt Disney. 

Related: The Time Magazine Cover That Reduced Reese Witherspoon To Tears [2]

How Coming From Acting Family Set Her Up For Success

Mills, who is British, is the daughter of acting legend Sir John Mills [3], who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1971 Ryan’s Daughters.

She credits her parents’ stardom with helping her adjust to the demands of being in Hollywood. Mills likens fame to an “express train.”

Her parents’ support allowed her to stay grounded and not be caught up in the fame and attention that can destroy the lives of so many young actors.

Hayley Mills
Source: Wikimedia commons

Dealing with Fame

Like many celebrities, Hayley Mills was deluged with attention from her fanbase.

While she was used to receiving fan mail due to her father’s fame, Mills remarked that she would often find the sheer amount of fan mail she received to be overwhelming.

But what she found most challenging was hanging onto reality. Fame can make you forget about the real world and place you into a fantasy.

For Mills, it was a struggle to stay grounded, but she believes time away at a boarding school helped her. 

Here’s a clip from The Parent Trap that will take you back!

On Missing Out On An Iconic Film Role 

Perhaps one of the biggest reveals in the memoir is that Mills was under consideration to play the lead in Stanley Kubrick’s film, Lolita.

Mills felt it would be the perfect role to explore an awakened and complex side that audiences hadn’t seen before as a teenage actress.

Ultimately the role went Sue Lyon, and Mills would star in The Family Way, which gave her a chance to play a more adult role. 

Her Relationship with Walt Disney

Walt Disney has taken on mythical status among so many people. His vision created modern entertainment, and as such many people would assume him to be a towering and intimidating presence. Mills found Mr. Disney to be just the opposite:  

He was so accessible. He was warm and friendly. He was tall but he was also a bit shy. But I just remember him being a very sweet man. There was a tremendous sweetness to him that was just genuine.

Related: Disney To Gender and Race Swap Lost Boys In Upcoming Peter Pan Movie [4]

Of her many interactions with Disney, what she remembers fondly is him telling the young actress that “I want to show people the best in themselves.” Disney’s imagination and desire to create magic would translate to how he treated people. Mills credits working at Disney as helping her to stay away from the pitfalls and excesses many young actors fall through.

What was your favorite Hayley Mills movie? Let us know!