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John Mills

For other people with this or similar names, see John Mills (disambiguation).
John Mills
Born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills
22 February1908(1908-02-22)
North Elmham, Norfolk, EnglandDied 23 April2005(aged 97)
Denham, Buckinghamshire, EnglandSpouse(s) Aileen Raymond(1927-1941)
Mary Hayley Bell(1941-2005) Awards won Academy AwardsBest Supporting Actor
1970 Ryan's DaughterGolden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1971 Ryan's Daughter

Sir John Mills CBE (born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills; 22 February 190823 April 2005) was an English actor, who made more than 120 films in a career spanning seven decades.

Contents

Life and career

Mills was born at the Watts Naval School in North Elmham, Norfolk, England, and grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk. He was educated at Norwich High School for Boys (which since its move after World War II to Langley Park, Loddon, is known as Langley School), where it is said that his initials can still be seen carved into the brickwork on the side of the building in Upper St Giles Street. He made his acting debut on the stage of the Sir John Leman School in Beccles in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream when he played the part of Puck.

Mills took an early interest in acting, making his professional debut at the London Hippodrome in The Five O'Clock Girl in 1929. He made his film debut in The Midshipmaid (1932), and appeared as Colley in the 1939 film version of Goodbye, Mr Chips, opposite Robert Donat.

Mills joined-up in September 1939 at the start of World War II, and was posted into the Royal Artillery. He was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and was discharged in 1941 due to medical reasons. He starred in his friend Noel Coward's In Which We Serve.

He took the lead in Great Expectations in 1946, and subsequently made his career playing traditionally British heroes such as Captain Robert Falcon Scott in Scott of the Antarctic (1948). Over the next decade he became particularly associated with war dramas, such as The Colditz Story (1954), Above Us the Waves (1955) and Ice Cold in Alex (1958). He often acted in the roles of people who are not at all exceptional, but become heroes due to their common sense, generosity and right judgement. Altogether he appeared in over 120 films.

For his role as the village idiot in Ryan's Daughter (1970) — a complete departure from his usual style — Mills won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His most famous television role was probably as the title character in Quatermass for ITV in 1979. Also on the small screen, in 1974 he starred as Captain Tommy "The Elephant" Devon in the six-part television drama series The Zoo Gang, about a group of former underground freedom fighters from World War II, with Brian Keith, Lilli Palmer, and Barry Morse.

He also starred as Gus the Theatre Cat in the filmed version of the musical Cats in 1998.

In 2002 Mills released his extensive home movie footage in a documentary/film entitled John Mills' Moving Memories, with interviews with Mills, his children Hayley, Juliet and Jonathon and Richard Attenborough. The film was directed and edited by Marcus Dillistone, and features behind the scenes footage and stories from films such as Ice Cold in Alex and Dunkirk. In addition the film also includes home footage of many of John Mills' friends and fellow cast members including Sir Laurence Olivier, Harry Andrews, Walt Disney, David Niven, Dirk Bogarde, Rex Harrison, Tyrone Power.

Honours

He was appointed a CBE in 1960. In 1976 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2002, he received a Fellowship of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the highest award given by the Academy, and was named a Disney Legend by The Walt Disney Company.

Family

The Wick on Richmond Hill in Richmond, Surrey, was the family home for many years.

His sister Annette Mills (1894–1955) was known for being the partner of the puppet "Muffin", in the BBC Television series Muffin the Mule between 1946 and 1955.

His first wife was the actress Aileen Raymond. They were married in 1927 and divorced in 1941.

His second wife was the dramatist Mary Hayley Bell. Their marriage on 16 January 1941 lasted 64 years, until his death in 2005. They were married in a rushed civil ceremony, due to the war, and it was not until 60 years later that they had their union blessed by a church [1]. They had two daughters, Juliet, star of television's Nanny and the Professor and Hayley, a Disney child star noted for starring in The Parent Trap, and one son Jonathan Mills. Hayley Mills's son, Crispian Mills, became a successful singer with the pop group Kula Shaker.

Death

In the years leading up to his death, he appeared on television only on special occasions, his sight having failed almost completely in 1992. After that, his film roles were brief but notable cameos.

He died aged 97 on 23 April 2005 at his home in Denham, Buckinghamshire following a chest infection. A few months after Sir John's death, Mary Hayley Bell died on 1 December 2005.

Filmography

Stage performances

Notes

  1. ^ Obituary, The Age, 25 April 2005, p. 9

External links

Wikinews has related news: Sir John Mills dies at 97 Awards Preceded by
Gig Young
for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1970
for Ryan's DaughterSucceeded by
Ben Johnson
for The Last Picture ShowPreceded by
Gig Young
for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1971
for Ryan's DaughterSucceeded by
Ben Johnson
for The Last Picture Show
v • d • eAcademy Award forBest Supporting Actor

George Chakiris (1961) · Ed Begley (1962) · Melvyn Douglas (1963) · Peter Ustinov (1964) · Martin Balsam (1965) · Walter Matthau (1966) · George Kennedy (1967) · Jack Albertson (1968) · Gig Young (1969) John Mills (1970) · Ben Johnson (1971) · Joel Grey (1972) · John Houseman (1973) · Robert De Niro (1974) · George Burns (1975) · Jason Robards (1976) · Jason Robards (1977) · Christopher Walken (1978) · Melvyn Douglas (1979) · Timothy Hutton (1980)

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