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Summary Article: Mills, Sir John Lewis Ernest Watts
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English actor

Born in Norfolk and raised in Felixstowe, Suffolk, he took an early interest in amateur dramatics which led to his London stage debut as a chorus boy in The Five O'Clock Revue (1927). More prestigious theatre work followed in Cavalcade (1931) and Words and Music (1932) before his film debut in The Midshipmaid (1932). He established himself as one of the hardest-working mainstays of the British film industry, portraying typically English roles in such films as In Which We Serve (1942), Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Colditz Story (1954). As a character actor his many credits include Great Expectations (1946) and The History of Mr Polly (1949). Later films include Ryan's Daughter (1970, Academy Award), Gandhi (1982) and A Woman of Substance (1986). Active in the theatre and on television, he also directed the film Sky West and Crooked (1965). Knighted in 1976 and awarded a BAFTA Fellowship in 2002, he published his autobiography, Up in the Clouds, Gentlemen Please, in 1980, and published a photographic autobiography, Still Memories, in 2000. Married to the playwright Mary Hayley Bell since 1941, both his daughters Juliet (1941- ) and Hayley (1946- ) are actresses.

  • Tanitch, Robert, John Mills (1993).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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