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When I heard that Hayley Mills had a memoir coming out I might have been a little bit excited. Ever since I was a kid, she has been one of my favourite actresses, growing up watching Pollyanna and The Parent Trap repeatedly every school holidays.
I ordered the paperback book and then discovered that she reads the audiobook so I had to have that as well. Her voice is so English and proper, it was a delight to listen to her talk about her life. As the daughter of John Mills, acting was in her blood. Walt Disney saw promise at a young age and she became a star. He love of Walt shines through, and you can see what an big influence he was on her life.
Her life wasn't always easy, in fact she has suffered many heartbreaks and losses. It was an eye opening story about a child star, in the limelight and the difficult choices that she often had to make.
I loved hearing about the Disney days, but also about her teenage life, where she hung out with The Beatles at the height of their fame. Her family is a big part of her life, a tough relationship with her mother and competing with her father and sister for movie roles.
A few years ago - pre covid, I was so lucky to be able to see Hayley and her sister Juliette, perform in a play in Sydney called Legends. It was so wonderful to see her on the stage and I was thrilled to meet her after the show. I may have fan girled like crazy but I was a little excited.
Forever Young is a beautifully written, heartfelt memoir. Hayley Mills does not disappoint the reader. Her dual life as a Hollywood-Disney star and English boarding school adolescent, was extraordinary. But Hayley survived the demands put upon her. She says: "It is care and encouragement, not fear, that brings out the best in people. If someone you respect believes in you, it means more than just believing in yourself alone."
On 25 September 2021, I had the great pleasure of attending the Barnes Bookfest where Hayley was interviewed for an hour by Gyles Brandreth, a fellow Barnes resident. Hayley signed my copy of her book afterwards with a lovely inscription and I was able to tell her that I had read it in three days earlier that month.
This is a beautifully written autobiography, mainly dealing with her life as a child actress and into her 20s, although she does of course talk about her controversial marriage to the much older director, Roy Boulting, following their meeting when she was making "The Family Way" in 1966. They were married in 1971, but sadly the marriage did not last and they divorced some years later. She had one son, Crispian, with Roy Boulting and one understands that Crispian was heavily involved in persuading his mother to write "Forever Young". The book is a wonderfully honest account of her life. For example, she does not shrink from discussing her mother's problems with alcohol and how many other famous actresses would have revealed that, on their wedding morning, they woke up to find that their period had just started.
There is a brief mention of her second son, Jason, who was born in the late 1970s when she was in a relationship with Leigh Lawson (before of course he married Twiggy), but there is very little about her working life after she stopped making films in 1975, an activity which she did not resume for more than a decade. I would like to think that, at some stage, we might be privileged to have the pleasure of a second volume of her memoirs from that time onwards. As my four-year old granddaughter would say: "Go, Hayley, go!"
I thoroughly enjoyed "Forever Young" and, as someone who is a similar age to Hayley, I saw all her films from "Tiger Bay" up to "The Family Way" when they first came out.
Quite a remarkable book in balancing candour about subjects painful to the subject-her mother’s relationship with alcohol, the squalor and boredom of boarding school, individuation, domestic violence, her own sense of coming low down the pecking order of family priorities, and tax- and genuine forgiveness. There is little self pity in this autobiography. She remembers what it is like to be a child, that combination of passivity and magical thinking. It feels authentic, even in the little details (her regretting the absence of chocolate biscuits and embarrassment at her unformed signature when she signed her Disney contract). She and her family knew an astonishing number of fascinating people. A great read.
I am unable to leave a detailed review as I bought the book as a gift for my mum. She read it from cover to cover over a couple of days. Asked whether she would recommend it she told me ‘absolutely’ and when I asked her out of 5 how many stars would she give it she said 5.
As an old devoted fan of Hayley’s I was fascinated by the thought of reading this book. She’s very honest and comes over as a well meaning person. Acting sounds a mad world where it’s difficult to remain sane. Too much too soon must have messed her up mentally. She’s had wonderful experiences most of us never will, but was she a kind of Dr Faustus? Yet she didn’t make the bargain, fate did. To make all that money and have it filched by the Revenue must have been so gutting. Stanley must have been insured. This is an entertaining and well written book. I got tired of the string of names of celebs at times and surely all those stars couldn’t have been so utterly wonderful. A book worth reading and thank you for some great films. I shan’t forget Tiger Bay and Whistle Down the Wind.
Hayley Mills writes well. Her memoir is sweet, funny, full of love of life; yet is has poignancy especially with regard to the decisions that were made for her with regard to her career.
There is no bitching, bitterness or angst in this memoir. It is a strong and lucid account of the life of Hayley Mills the girl we all wanted to be once upon a time when Hollywood and the movies were the epitome of glamour. Keep writing Hayley!
I was an avid fan of Hayley Mills after seeing her in the Parent Trap and have waited a long time for a biography/autobiography. This didn't disappoint. Despite following her life for many years, this book told me so much that I didn't know about Hayley. She gives a very detailed account of the years from when she was first chosen to play a part in Tiger Bay, up until the present day. However, she doesn't give any information about the circumstances surrounding her second son, or about her relationship with her partner Firdous Bamji, so she obviously wants these things kept a little more private. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who was a fan of Hayley Mills.
Like many other lads during the late 1950s/early ‘60s, I was smitten by Hayley Mills, first seeing her in the gritty thriller “Tiger Bay” before she starred in a string of family-orientated movies for Disney productions.
Picked by accident by director J. Lee Thompson for 1959’s “Tiger Bay”, her performance was spotted by Walt Disney resulting in a seven picture contract that commenced with “Pollyanna” and “The Parent Trap”. She recalls her years with the US company, delightfully recounting her first visit to Disneyland, as through the eyes of a child; her association with Walt himself, who became a father figure; her travels to foreign film locations; and a general insight into Hollywood and British film making during the 1960s. Then, after Disney, fortunes changed with lesser films, battles with the taxman, and her much publicized love affair and marriage to an older man, film producer/director John Boulting.
Also prominent in these memoirs is her relationship with her equally talented family, actors father John and elder sister Juliet, and alcoholic mother, author Mary Hayley Bill, from whom she obviously inherited writing skills as realized with this well written, and extremely readable, biography.
Nothing missed out or evaded. Hayley reviews her parts, experience and feelings about every film she ever made, from Tiger Bay, the Disney years and other films through to Endless Night in 1972, along with her Stage appearances. There are detailed accounts of her life with her family, Dad, John Mills, Mother Mary Halley Bell and Siblings Juliet and Jonathan. Hayley, along with her contemporary writings has a fantastic memory and writes candidly about her real or part fantasy relationships, her marriage to Roy Boulting and the joy and contentment of her first Child.