Hayley Mills returned to the stage in 2012 as Ursula in the world premiere of Ladies In Lavender, which toured the UK, including a season at London’s Richmond Theatre Adapted by Shaun McKenna from the popular film starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, the stage version is based on Charles Dance’s screenplay and William Locke’s original story. Set in a remote Cornish village, the lives of two spinster sisters (Hayley and Belinda Lang) are turned upside down by the arrival of a young Polish violinist. While most actors say that the script is the deciding factor for taking on a play, Hayley said it was the music, taken from the original score by Nigel Hess and performed by virtuoso Joshua Bell that swayed her. She said it immediately became her favourite piece of music as soon as she heard it. The Northampton Chronicle and Echo review said “Mills is stunning as Ursula, imbuing her with a girlish youth which makes her unrequited feelings ever poignant.”
I sent this sketch of Hayley as Ursula to her London agent and she returned it signed and dedicated within a week.
Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills found fame at the age of 13 in Walt Disney’s Pollyanna. She won a special juvenile Oscar for her role and went on to make five other films for Disney to become one of the most popular actresses of the early sixties. Despite her long and successful career, Hayley isn’t sure she would have made it in acting had she not been a child star. “I started work at the right time. At 13 I was still spontaneous and unselfconscious.”
She mad an early stage debut as well, in the 60s West End revival of Peter Pan, as the title character. Her Godfather was the playwright, actor and singer, Sir Noël Coward. In 1992 she toured New Zealand, Australia and the UK in his play Fallen Angels with her sister Juliet. It played my home town of Invercargill, New Zealand, and I was lucky enough to meet them both at the stage door of the Civic Theatre.
Hayley signed my sketch in London, at her agent’s office in 2010.