This is my contribution to the Children in Film Blogathon hosted by Comet Over Hollywood. Click HERE to read about more talented tinseltown tykes!
Before the Beatles, before Carnaby Street, before Twiggy, my heart had already been invaded by the British. Hayley Mills was my favorite pre-teen, teen and young woman. I wanted to look like her, talk like her, wear my hair like she did and wear the same clothes. I really wanted to change my name to Hayley, but I couldn't figure out how to accomplish that. She was my idol.
My love affair with Hayley started with "The Parent Trap" in 1961. That snub nose! That adorable haircut! That accent!!! And there were two of them!! From then on I scooped up every Tiger Beat, 16, Teen Screen and American Girl magazine that featured an article on Hayley. Photos like the one above (from "Summer Magic") adorned by bedroom walls.
|Hayley as Pollyanna - the ultimate Disney child star|
As I absorbed all things Hayley, I learned that I had missed a few films, most notably 1960's Disney version of "Pollyanna," as well as "Tiger Bay" and "Whistle Down the Wind," two films where here acting was most admired. Hayley came by her talent naturally, since her dad was acclaimed actor John Mills and her mom was actress and writer Mary Hayley Bell.
|Hayley and her proud parents in 1964|
At the time of "The Parent Trap," Hayley was 15, so her shelf life as a true child star was short. But this kid had staying power and Hayley blossomed into a teen favorite. And yes, I endlessly played "Let's Get Together" (yeah, yeah, yeah!) and "Johnny Jingo" over and over on my non-stereo record player.
Disney (mostly) kept her busy for the next four years and consequently kept me and lots of other pre-teens oh-so-happy. "In Search of the Castaways," "Summer Magic," "The Moonspinners," "The Truth About Spring," and "That Darn Cat" - oh bliss!!! It was a great time to be a movie-going pre-teen.
I loved the great adventure of "In Search of the Castaways," and even then, I was taken with the twinkle in Maurice Chevalier's eyes.
"Summer Magic" was a particular favorite of mine. Corny, yes, but I was so enamored of her, her clothes, her story. I lived every moment with her up there on the screen.
and yes, I had these (and still do, thank you).
After "Summer Magic," Hayley got a chance to really act in the non-Disney film version of "The Chalk Garden," along with Deborah Kerr and her dad. Of course, I sent to see it, but I confess it was a little over my head at the time. Didn't matter - Hayley was in it.
Disney's "Moon Spinners" was one of my all time favorite Hayley films. It had beautiful locations, an exciting story, Hayley's name was Nikki (I loved it), she had a real romance, and some old movie vamp named Pola Negri slinked across the screen with an ocelot and stole the show.
|Nikki is about to be kissed!!|
|Pola shows the younger generation what a movie star looks like|
"The Truth About Spring" was much anticipated, since Hayley had another love interest (James MacArthur) and she sported a new casual bob. It was a non-Disney film and she co-starred with her dad.
Hayley's last Disney film for a very long time was the delightful and memorable "That Darn Cat." By then she was a little too mature for such fluff, but who cared? She was Hayley and the cat was cute.
The last time I loved Hayley at the movies was in 1966's "The Trouble With Angels." After that, she attempted to move into more adult roles, but her star faded and she was no longer a big box office attraction. She married, divorced, had children and lovers. But here's another great thing about Hayley: she almost never stopped acting. She did TV, theater and movies. She tried everything and shrank from nothing. In 1986 she returned to Disney in a TV film of "The Parent Trap II." She stretched her talent to the limit and decided to live an actor's life. After all, it is in her blood.
|A swinging sixties Brit bird|
Today, Hayley continues to act in TV and on stage. She is a breast cancer survivor and is still going strong. When I look at Hayley today I confess I feel a bit old, but I am also encouraged because that youthful glow still shines through.