Reviews for Forever Young

by Hayley Mills

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The iconic star of Pollyanna and The Parent Trap recalls her rise to stardom, her experiences on set, and her friendship with Walt Disney in this endearing memoir. The daughter of British actor John Mills and writer Mary Hayley Bell, Mills grew up in the English countryside and was given her first film role at the age of 12 when the director of the film Tiger Bay decided to cast her alongside her father. That turn caught the eye of Walt Disney, who offered her the role of Pollyanna and a seven-picture deal, laying claim to Mills' formative years and also casting her as the twins in The Parent Trap, a big hit, and a classic. As Mills grew into her teens, she became constrained by the saccharine image she was forced to adhere to in her Disney films, which cost her edgier roles in films like Lolita. She also shocked both her family and the public by marrying a director 32 years her senior. A warmhearted peek behind the curtain at youthful fame and filmmaking in the 1960s.

Publishers Weekly
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Golden Globe Award-winning actor Mills debuts with a mesmerizing look at her “golden years” as a child star in the 1960s. The middle child of British actor Sir John Mills and playwright Mary Hayley Bell, Mills enjoyed an ordinary childhood until she was chosen at age 12 to star in family friend and director J. Lee Thompson’s 1959 thriller Tiger Bay. That same year, Hayley signed a seven-picture deal with Walt Disney. Shuttling back and forth between boarding school and film sets—and playing the leads in, among other movies, Pollyanna (1960) and The Parent Trap (1961)—Mills rose to international fame by age 16, receiving an Honorary Oscar in 1961. “For better or for worse,” she writes, “I’d literally grown up in Disneyland.” With a novelistic eye for detail and a disarming sense of humor, Mills illuminates her extraordinary past while evoking the lost empire of mid-20th-century Hollywood. Along the way, she underscores how there was a price to be paid in family tensions; public growing pains; missed opportunities—including the title role in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (“to be a Disney Star meant being family friendly”)—and fraught relationships, such as her romance with the much older producer-director Roy Boulting. The result is a luminous work commensurate with the unforgettable movies that made Mills an icon. (Sept.)

Library Journal
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Child star Mills's charming and eloquent walk down memory lane is a fascinating study of moviemaking in 1960s Britain and the United States. Born in London to legendary actor Sir John Mills and actress/writer Mary Hayley Bell, she was cast in Tiger Bay at 12 and became a star for Disney, with hits including Pollyanna and The Parent Trap. Plagued by self-doubt and a fear of upstaging her beloved father and her twin sister Juliet (who costarred with her in The Parent Trap), as she received accolades for her work (including an Oscar before her father), Mills grappled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and bulimia. Leaving home, she embarked on a love affair with director Roy Boulting, who was 32 years her senior; took on adult roles that proved disastrous; and tried her hand at theater. Mills conveys the excitement of being a young starlet—dating Frank Sinatra Jr. and George Harrison and touring Disneyland with Disney himself—but also addresses the darker side of fame: She was the victim of death threats and had conflicted feelings about her alcohol-addicted mother and her father, who downplayed her success and eventually lost all of her money. VERDICT Movie buffs will be riveted by Mills's behind-the-scenes tales.—Lisa Henry, Kirkwood P.L., MO