This is too funny! When actress Hayley Mills was just a teenager, she won an Oscar for her role in 1960’s Pollyanna — but she didn’t even realize she won the coveted award. “I was actually at boarding school in England, and I didn’t know anything about it until it turned up [in the mail]. [I said], ‘Oh, that’s sweet. What’s that?’ I was told, ‘Well, this is a very special award,’ but it was quite a few years before I began to appreciate what I had,” the 71-year-old star confessed in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“I didn’t know very much about the Oscars. I didn’t know very much about anything, really. So it was all a big surprise,” Hayley continued, adding that her parents didn’t tell her she won the award or allow her to attend the ceremony because she was just 14 years old at the time. In fact, it was The Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello who accepted Hayley’s Oscar on-stage from Shirley Temple at the 1961 Academy Awards.
Hayley with Jane Wyman in Pollyanna. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
“It really wasn’t until the 75th Oscar ceremony, where I was one of the [former] winners on stage [that I realized I won]. The curtains parted, and I found myself staring out at the Kodak Theatre, and I looked straight at Richard Gere and [Martin] Scorsese, and nearly fainted,” Hayley said. “I thought, ‘My God, I’m actually a part of this!’ I hadn’t ever felt that connection, and it was extraordinary. My heroes were on that stage with me, and I was considered to be one of their number!”
Hayley was the last child stars receive the Oscar’s Juvenile Award, which was a mini version of an Academy Award statuette previously given to actors under age 18 to recognize their “outstanding contributions to screen entertainment.” The first winner of the honorary award was Shirley (then just six years old) in 1934 and subsequent Juvenile Award recipients included Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Margaret O’Brien. After the award was retired, a then 16-year-old Patty Duke became the youngest ever actress to win an Oscar in 1962 after being nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category with adult stars.
Shirley holding her Juvenile Award in 1986. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Today, the Academy Juvenile Award statuettes are very special as only 12 were given out in Oscars history. So, where is Hayley’s award now? “I’m terribly embarrassed to say this because it looks so careless, but it has disappeared. In the late ’80s, I came to California to do a television series [Good Morning, Miss Bliss]. When I came back from that first year, my little statuette had disappeared, and I never found it,” she told EW.
“And you know, it’s not something you can replace. They’ve broken the mold. I spoke to the Academy, and I said, ‘Well, look, give me a big one then!’ They said, ‘I’m sorry, it doesn’t work like that.’ But I’d say for 25 years it was on the mantelpiece in my drawing room, and I was always very proud of it,” Hayley added.