Sophia Rose is here with a non-fiction review for you. Learn more about the memoir from the iconic Disney actress Hayley Mills. Forever Young by Hayley Mills, narrated by the actress herself.
Iconic actress Hayley Mills shares personal memories from her storied childhood, growing up in a famous acting family and becoming a Disney child star, trying to grow up in a world that wanted her to stay forever young.
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 starlets of the 1960s through her iconic roles in Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and many more. She became one of only twelve actors in history to be bestowed with the Academy Juvenile Award, presented at the Oscars by its first recipient, Shirley Temple, and went on to win a number of awards including a Golden Globe, multiple BAFTAs, and a Disney Legacy Award.
Now, in her charming and forthright memoir, she provides a unique window into when Hollywood was still ‘Tinseltown’ and the great Walt Disney was at his zenith, ruling over what was (at least in his own head) still a family business. This behind-the-scenes look at the drama of having a sky-rocketing career as a young teen in an esteemed acting family will offer both her childhood impressions of the wild and glamorous world she was swept into, and the wisdom and broader knowledge that time has given her. Hayley will delve intimately into her relationship with Walt Disney, as well as the emotional challenges of being bound to a wholesome, youthful public image as she grew into her later teen years, and how that impacted her and her choices–including marrying a producer over 30 years her senior when she was 20! With her regrets, her joys, her difficulties, and her triumphs, this is a compelling read for any fan of classic Disney films and an inside look at a piece of real Hollywood history.
Sophia Rose’s Review
Childhood wouldn’t have been so golden without such films as Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and That Darn Cat, and then there was that clever, atmospheric Endless Night that gave me some good chills as a teen. So, when I spotted the memoir of the sunny-faced actress that made these and other gems possible, I was jazzed to pick it up and delve right in.
Hayley Mills came of an acting father and a script-writing mother, a thespian older sister, film-making younger brother, and surrounded by daddy and mummy’s close friends in the trade. Unlike her sister, Juliet, Hayley hadn’t had any particular plans to get into acting until one of her father’s acquaintances spotted her and decided she was perfect for the main child actor part in British film, Tiger Bay. Even then she thought it was simply a lark and went back boarding school and life on the family farm without a backward glance. Hailey was the middle child and happy to let life happen around her. Her parents gave her and her siblings a stable, loving childhood, though Hayley points out that their relationship and their work were priorities that she registered even as a young child. Tiger Bay was well received and was the vehicle that got her in Walt Disney’s eye.
Disney wanted her for Pollyanna, but insisted on signing her to a six-film contract over the next seven years. Her parents were ambivalent about that on her behalf because it would lock her into a career that would take up the rest of her childhood, but they consulted Hailey after making it clear what would be involved. Eventually, she was making movie magic, dealing with adolescence, the woes of fitting school around an acting career, fame, and how it affected family life especially with her dad’s film career tugging the family in two different directions. Hayley grew up on and off screen, but found that living up to peoples’ ideals and her own made for a big challenge and finding her feet as an adult and an acting career as well as adult relationships would be hardest of all.
This memoir hit the spot for me. Mostly, this is because I went in wanting the life of a child actress with enough personal and family background to set it in context. I didn’t read it to get a deep dive into another person’s life. Hayley was forthright about her family, her personality, her struggles, and her own choices that sometimes led to mistakes, but the memoir winds up when the child actress feels that she has finally finished with childhood and has a strong foothold on the path of adulthood with a relationship and a child as well as an adult career. Some might want to know what happened in the intervening years to the present, but that was not addressed and, I honestly didn’t expect it based on the title and blurb, but I thought I should mention it in case others do.
It was enough to learn what such a life was like: behind the scenes on some films including her Disney ones, the rarified atmosphere she was in when she thought of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as Uncle Larry and Aunt Vivian, when she was friendly with the Beatles including a date with George and went to the same parties as The Rat Pack, and some of her struggles that she had to overcome like feeling less educated than others since she never finished school, weight struggles, shyness and inadequacy, a mother’s depression and alcoholism, loss of her childhood earnings, and struggles of failed relationships.
The author’s writing style took just the right tone. It was engaging and in balance with her personality and her experiences. There was some fun, some sad, and much in between. The end wrapped up swiftly, but in a logical place. I felt I learned a lot about Hayley Mills as a person and an actress, so I was well-pleased with this memoir and would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy memories of entertainment personalities or simply want to read about Hayley Mills growing up.
Take a trip down memory lane with Sophia Rose’s review of Forever Young: A Memoir by Hayley Mills #DisneyActress #Audiobook #Pollyana #TheParentTrap #HsyleyMills
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