Hayley Mills and the Disneyfication of Childhood

In the early 1960s, Hayley Mills was the most popular child film star in the Western world. While she is best known for her performances in six Disney movies made between 1960 and 1965, she also played leading roles in several British-made film dramas of the time. These films raise several broader questions about the phenomenon of child stardom, and about the representation of childhood – and specifically of girlhood – during this period of rapid social and cultural change.

You can download the whole essay (without illustrations) by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings to read the different sections:

  1. Hayley Mills, child star
  2. Early British films: Tiger Bay (1959) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961)
  3. Debating ‘Disneyfication’
  4. Sentimental fictions: Pollyanna (1960) and Summer Magic (1963)
  5. Reassembling the family: The Parent Trap (1961)
  6. A child star coming of age
  7. Awkward transitions: The Chalk Garden (1964) and That Darn Cat! (1965); conclusion
  8. Sources and references