Forever Young: A Memoir by Hayley Mills


“The daughter of acclaimed British actor Sir John Mills was still a preteen when she began her acting career and was quickly thrust into the spotlight. Under the wing of Walt Disney himself, Hayley Mills was transformed into one of the biggest child stars of the 1960s. Her teenage decade in Hollywood produced some of the era’s greatest coming-of-age family movies: classics like Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and That Darn Cat, and in Britain the acclaimed Whistle Down the Wind. Now for the first time, Hayley reveals the truth of her own coming-of-age story – a story of incredible twists of fate and fortune, but also mismanagement, bankruptcy, family crisis and dislocation.

Told with characterstic warmth, honesty, and humor, Hayley takes us back in time to a bygone era when Hollywood was still Tinseltown, charting a journey from her carefree childhood in postwar Britain, growing up in the shadow of her famous theatrical family, to being propelled into the Technicolor boomtown of 1960s Hollywood. With her regrets, her joys, her triumphs, and the emotional challenges of being bound to a wholesome, youthful public image, Forever Young is a captivating read for fans of classic Disney films and anyone eager for an inside look at a piece of real Hollywood history.”

-Synopsis from inside front cover


Cover image from StoryGraph

Forever Young: A Memoir by Hayley Mills was such a great read. I first heard about this book through social media, and immediately requested it from the library. I love to read memoirs specifically those of famous actors or musicians because I know little about those industries and am always curious about how people sustain lifelong careers in those fields.

This memoir covers Hayley Mills’ earlier life and her time working with Walt Disney up until the time she became a mother. The focus is on her younger years, as the title suggests, and her coming of age.

There is so much more to her than the carefree, spunky characters she is known for playing in The Parent Trap and Pollyanna. It was interesting to read about what was going on for her behind the scenes both personally and with her family. I was very intrigued about the way her parent’s approached her career, specifically how they never really acknowledged all of her achievements.

“By glossing over things that were real and important, like being awarded an Oscar, they were unwittingly denying milestones in my life. I’m sure if I had been allowed to experience the reality of being given an Oscar, it wouldn’t have given me an inflated opinion of myself at all; I think I would have more likely appreciated the responsibility and as a result taken my career more seriously. Instead, the whole thing was played down to such an extent that instead of having a healthy sense of reality, and of myself, the opposite began to take effect. I was left with the overwhelming conviction that somehow my lucky break had been a mistake – and I started to feel guilty about my success.”

from Forever Young: A Memoir by Hayley Mills

Hayley Mills’ parents were both involved in theater; her father was an actor and her mother was a screenwriter. It’s clear that there was tension surrounding Hayley’s rise to fame when her parents had been working so hard for years to break into the industry and she did so seemingly overnight. It was fascinating to read how her signing on to work with Walt Disney impacted all of them so much for years to come.

This book reminded me of both of Julie Andrews’ memoirs, as she had similar experiences working as an actor in Britain first before going to work for Walt Disney.

I’m so glad that I heard about this book and decided to read it. If she happens to write another about the second half of her life I would definitely read it.

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