we all had a crush on janet munro and hayley mills

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

THE ROUND PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is a web­site de­voted to sev­eral topics, one of which is movies—mostly older movies. Blog host/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer John Ross seems to love every kind of movie ever made and writes elo­quently and en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about them. His ar­ti­cles and re­views reg­u­larly have me bor­rowing DVDs from the library.

His most re­cent post is ti­tled “How She Was Made” and ad­dresses a re­cent in­ter­view that Hayley Mills did with film critic Leonard Maltin. Looking at the two photos that John included—Hayley on a date with George Har­rison in 1964 and one that looks a few years later (in both she looks fetch­ingly adorable or adorably fetching)—reminded me of the crush that I had on her as a boy. It was a crush shared by mil­lions of other boys at the time.


There’s nothing new here about Hayley Mills or Janet Munro—just me waxing nos­tal­gi­cally over two lovely lasses I had a crush on in my youth.


I be­came aware of Hayley Mills in 1960 when my grand­par­ents took me to see the Rock­ettes and Pollyanna at Radio City Music Hall. I don’t re­member the former but I do re­member crying during the latter. (I was just shy of 10-years-old at the time and paral­ysis seemed like some­thing out of a horror movie.)

It was around this time that I be­came aware of girls—who we used to call “the op­po­site sex” but I’m no longer cer­tain that term is allowed—and they started be­coming a mild dis­trac­tion to my for­merly un­di­vided at­ten­tion on the Civil War and mil­i­tary air­craft of the First World War.


JanetMunro YoungAndThe Guilty 1958 500

Janet Munro in the 1958 British movie  The Young And The Guilty. A year later she would star with Sean Con­nery in Dis­ney’s’ Darby O’Gill And The Little People and be­come an in­ter­na­tional star.

Disney’s 1–2 punch 

A few years later, I saw Dis­ney’s Swiss Family Robinson as part of a Sat­urday mat­inée at one of the many older the­aters in the area that could no longer af­ford to fea­ture first-run movies. It was prob­ably double-billed with some­thing like Earth Vs The Flying Saucers and cost no more than a quarter to get in.

I would have been around 13 at the time and left the the­ater en­am­ored of the glo­rious Janet Munro. She had been thrown into the plot to dis­tract im­pres­sion­able young viewers like me as much as she dis­tracted the two Robinson sons in the story.

Munro and Mills were Dis­ney’s 1–2 punch of de­lightful young ac­tresses in the early ’60s, star­ring in nine fea­ture films be­tween them. While Mills was oc­ca­sion­ally dressed in jeans for her roles, she never came across as a tomboy. She cer­tainly had spunk and the type of poke-her-nose-in-everything in­quis­i­tive­ness that one nor­mally as­so­ciates with boys, but she was just too much of a girl to put across tomboyishness.

Munro, on the other hand, fit in jeans just right and seemed to al­ways have a little tomboy in her. Oddly, she also had a sex­i­ness that oc­ca­sion­ally bor­dered on sauci­ness, some­thing that Mills did not project.

Both grew into lovely women. Mills is still ac­tive on the stage. Munro died from a heart at­tack caused by is­chemic heart dis­ease (IHD) in 1972 when she was only 38-years-old. 


SwissFamilyRobinson Disney poster 600

The 1960 Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson is one of sev­eral adap­ta­tions to film and tele­vi­sion of the 1812 novel Der Schweiz­erische Robinson by Jo­hann David Wyss. It was the most suc­cessful ver­sion and, al­most sixty years later, re­mains the most popular.

Coconut hand grenades?

It’s dif­fi­cult to put into words the dif­fer­ences be­tween young ac­tresses like these two women and the ac­tresses we have today. Tech­ni­cally and ar­tis­ti­cally, to­day’s ac­tresses are head and shoul­ders above the ac­tresses of fifty years ago. But there was some­thing in them then that was a re­flec­tion of the times, the era, the cul­ture, that we have lost—someting that may not be ex­treme enough to call in­ef­fable but cannot be cap­tured in words.

It’s prob­ably one of the things that aging white Rep*blicans pine for but can never have again (along with all-white neigh­bor­hoods, clos­eted gays, and Lawrence Welk on television).

A few years ago, Berni and I watched Swiss Family Robinson for the first time in decades and en­joyed it all over again—especially the clever ways they de­fended them­selves from the pi­rates (like the co­conut grenades)! But watching it now I couldn’t help but think that, as en­joy­able as it was to watch Janet Munro again, the movie might have been even better had Hayley Mills played the Bertie/Roberta role.

Oh, well, we’ll never know . . .


HayleyMills 1970 1000

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The lovely photo at the top of this page is of Hayley Mills, al­though I was un­able to find a year for it. Based on the haircut and her still very youthful ap­pear­ance, I would guess the late ’60s.



Leave a Comment