Talking to actress Juliet Mills, you can’t help but feel that there’s still some magic afoot, and not simply because she starred in the Classic TV sitcom Nanny and the Professor. It has more to do with the fact that, at 77, she remains so charming and so active, currently on a U.K. tour of the play The Lady Vanishes, based on the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. And that play just happens to costar her real-life leading man, Maxwell Caulfield, to whom she’s been married for the past 39 years.
“If you’re lucky enough to meet your soulmate and you have a lot in common and you’re prepared to work at it when times get tough,” she offers exclusively to Closer Weekly in explanation of the “secret” behind their long and joyous relationship, “and you’d really rather be with that person more than any other person to share everything, whether it’s good times or bad times — you know, sunrise to sunset — that’s pretty much the test, I’d say.” And we’d say she and Maxwell have passed.
Born November21, 1941 in London, Juliet is the eldest daughter of actors Sir John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, her siblings being Hayley Mills (The Parent Trap, among others) and director Jonathan Mills. Between 1942’s In Which We Serve (in which she was an infant) and 1969’s Oh! What a Lovely War, she appeared in a total of 11 films and made multiple appearances on a wide variety of TV shows. In 1970, however, she took on the role that would change her life and for which she would be remembered to this day, Phoebe Figalilly (aka “Nanny”) on the 1970-71 series Nanny and the Professor.
On the show, Nanny arrives at the home of widower Professor Harold Everett (Richard Long) to serve as caretaker to his three children. Those kids are Hal (David Doremus), described as an intellectual tinkerer; Butch (Trent Lehman) and Prudence (future Real Housewife Kim Richards). In the grand tradition of Mary Poppins, there is something a little bit …. different about Nanny, who has something of a sixth sense; an out of the ordinary quality.
When the show concluded its run, the actors went their separate ways, Juliet starring in films, on stage and various TV movies, eventually being cast as witch Tabita Lenox on the daytime soap Passions. Richard, sadly, would die of a heart attack only a few years later, while a despondent Trent would end up hanging himself in 1982. Kim, who for a time was a part of the reality series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has struggled with a number of problems over the years, while David shifted careers to the mobile electronics business.
But whatever happened after the run of Nanny and the Professor, Juliet makes it clear that she holds the series, and her time on it, in high regard. “I’m very proud of it and have very, very happy memories of it,” she says. “I’m still recognized all over the place for that as much as anything I’ve ever done, which is extraordinary. People just hear my voice and they turn around, ‘Hey, Nanny!’ It was a family show and I think families enjoyed it together and it still brings back happy memories.”
For much more of Juliet’s look back at Nanny and the Professor, please scroll down.
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