This fan card, featuring Hayley Mills as she appeared in the 1963 film Summer Magic, was sent in response to fan letters directed to the actress and received by the Walt Disney Studios.
The London-born Mills was raised in a show-business family, making her film debut at the age of thirteen in 1959’s Tiger Bay, acting alongside her father, Sir John Mills. Walt Disney, impressed by the young actress’s talent, signed her to a five-year contract, during which she starred in the following films: Pollyanna (her American film debut), The Parent Trap (a role which earned her a special Academy Award), In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, The Moon-Spinners, and That Darn Cat!. Disney would call Mills the “greatest movie find in twenty-five years,” and the young actress who rose to stardom through her string of hits for the studio would go on to a successful acting career that spanned several more decades. In the 80s, she returned to Disney, contributing to three Parent Trap sequels, as well as various Disney Channel projects. In 1998, she was honored with the Disney Legend award.
Her fourth film for the studio, Summer Magic is a loose musical adaptation of the 1911 novel, Mother Carey’s Chickens, by Kate Douglas Wiggin, and tells the story of a widow and her three children who leave the city for a new start in the Maine countryside. With the help of the town’s lovable postmaster, the family fixes up an old house, the owner of which has been living abroad for years, and settles into a happy life. Their bliss, however, is seemingly jeopardized when the owner unexpectedly returns. Alongside Mills, the film also stars Dorothy McGuire, Burl Ives, Deborah Walley, Eddie Hodges, and Peter Mathers, with the iconic Sherman Brothers scoring the film.
The black-and-white photo that fronts the fan card shows a seventeen-year-old Mills, posing as her character in the film, Nancy Carey, along with the following text: “HAYLEY MILLS as she appears in Walt Disney’s SUMMER MAGIC.”
The film had been released a little over a month prior (July 7, 1963) to the date found on the reverse side’s Burbank, California postmark (August 9, 1963). The custom Walt Disney Studios stamp also includes the text, “LOOK TO THE NAME WALT DISNEY FOR THE FINEST IN FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT.” The actress’s pre-printed “handwritten” response reads simply, “Thank you for writing,” and is signed, “Sincerely, Hayley Mills.” As indicated by the type-written address, the fan card was sent to Ethel McCowan of Shelbyville, Indiana.
This studio fan card, dating to the release of the well-loved musical, Summer Magic, represents a very successful period for Walt Disney Pictures, as well as one of their brightest stars, who lent her talent to some of the studio’s biggest hits.