The Parent Trap Star Hayley Mills Details Struggles with Bulimia, Money: 'The Dream Was Gone'
Hayley Mills was one of the biggest child stars of her era—but with fame came some personal demons the actress has struggled to shake.
In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mills, 75, spoke about her battle with bulimia as a teenager in a bid to stay childlike, a desire that came after the massive success of films like Pollyanna and Disney's 1961 film The Parent Trap. Mills recounts her experiences in her upcoming memoir, Forever Young, which comes out Tuesday.
The actress told the Times her roles as a child actor "did seem to kind of slow my development into being an adult."
"Actors are so much braver today," she said. "You look at Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter, how brave he's been with his career. He's really gone out on a limb, and I admire that so much."
In 1964, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper wrote of Mills weight: "Seven pounds thinner than when I last saw her, her 112 pounds are distributed in the correct places. 'I'm trying to shrink my stomach to peanut size,' [Mills] said."
When Mills turned 21, she gained access to a fund that held her childhood wages but she found there was barely anything left in her account after her savings were taxed 91% by the U.K. government to help rebuild the country after World War II.
Mills told the Times she appealed with the British government to regain her wages but was shot down in 1975. She told the newspaper she would have been able to keep 2 million pounds—over $17 million today.
"I never saw it," she told the outlet. "I knew it was there and one day I would have it, but it was just sort of a dream, and then one day the dream was gone. Occasionally, I think: It would have been nice if I had the freedom to say no."
Mills continued to work to pay her bills, starring on the stage and playing Miss Bliss on Saved by the Bell. With the help of her son, Crispian, a screenwriter, Mills has been able to write her memoir and detail her life—including her recollections of Walt Disney himself.
"He was a father figure," she told the Times, adding that in new letters between Disney and her parents, she discovered he'd had more of a role in shaping her career and identity than she previously knew.
When recalling how Disney didn't allow her to star in any "heavy dramas or sex involvements" as a teenager, she said, "Fathers do that—say, 'No, you can't go to this dance. You can't go on a motorbike with that boy.' That's life. I was extremely fortunate to be under contract to a studio like that. To a man like that. I was not exploited in the way that we understand that word."
Forever Young: A Memoir is available in stores and online on Sept. 8.
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This story originally appeared on people.com