Grey matter direct client donna mills 1

Legendary Diva Donna Mills – Still Killing It!

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Grey Matter Direct client Donna Mills is an acting legend who is still killing it after 5 decades in Hollywood, and there is no sign that she is slowing down. In fact she just made an appearance in Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Nope!.

Grey matter direct client donna mills

Legendary actress and GMD client, Donna Mills.

What accounts for Donna’s unbelievable career? We think its because of her unreal work ethic and commitment to her own personal brand, which is a unique blend of personal strength mixed with a sophisticated approach to life. As Donna has said:  “I think I just decided I was never gonna be not glamorous,” she said. “Getting older is not gonna change that.”

Donna Mills is an actress and producer who is best known for her long-running role as villainous Abby Cunningham on the prime-time soap opera Knots Landing, and for her role as Tobie Williams, the girlfriend of Clint Eastwood’s character in the 1971 cult film Play Misty for Me.

Donna Mills was born Donna Jean Miller on December 11, 1940, and was brought up with brother Donald in Norwood Park, Chicago. Her father Ambrose worked for Union Oil, her mother Bernice was a housewife who “came alive,” Mills said, when working for periods as a telephone operator—a key thing that Mills held close when building and consolidating her own fiercely prized independence.

“She had all these different companies she took messages for,” Mills said of her mom. “She did it for around five years in my early teens. She loved it. That was when she was her happiest. Then unfortunately my dad decided, ‘I’m making enough money. I don’t need you to work anymore.’ He didn’t want her to work, so she didn’t. That saddened her. Work gave her a sense of independence. That impacted me greatly, because I could see such a difference in her, but I never spoke to her about it.”

Donna  began her acting career on television with a six-month stint on the CBS daytime soap opera The Secret Storm in 1966, playing the character of “Rocket.” Following this, she made her film debut in The Incident (1967), co-starring alongside Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, Ed McMahon, and Thelma Ritter. She appeared on Broadway in Woody Allen’s comedy, Don’t Drink the Water, as the Sultan of Bashir’s wife. She then starred for three years in the soap opera Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1967-1970).

In 1980 Donna landed her most prominent role as the scheming and manipulative Abby Cunningham on the long-running primetime soap opera Knots Landing, which Donna Starred in from 1980–1989.

Unapologetically going after what she wanted, Mills’ character engaged in affairs with two of the husbands on the Knots Landing cul-de-sac. But, like most divas on primetime soaps, she was only out for money, not love.”

Grey matter direct client donna mills and baby daughter chloe

Donna and her adopted daughter Chloe.

In 1989, Mills announced her intention to leave the long-running nighttime soap after nine years as Abby. It was during this time, when Donna turned 54, that she adopted her daughter, Chloe who is now 28.

“I was so obsessed by my career,” Mills said. “I was so driven I didn’t really want a child during that time. I wanted to make it. My career was my focus. Then I got Knots at around 40. I knew that was the time to make my mark. I did that. At that time too I wasn’t with anybody that I guess I thought would be a great partner in having a child or children, so I just waited. I really feel that was the way it was meant to be. I was meant to find her; she was meant to find me. She’s my child, the most important person to me.”

“After Knots I kind of looked around and said, ‘Well, OK. I have achieved a certain amount of success. That’s great. I have enjoyed every moment of it, but something is missing.’ I began to be jealous whenever I would see a little kid run up and say ‘Mommy’ to their mom, and I was like…” Mills sighed. “I knew that was what was missing. My life was not going to be complete unless I had a child.

“I left the business for 18 years to raise Chloe,” Mills said. “I didn’t want to work when she was little, to be out of town for two months at a time. Once she was in school, I didn’t want to take her out of school. I wanted to be a mom and loved every minute of it. As Donna says “My life would not have been complete if I had not had Chloe, it just wouldn’t. She’s an incredibly beautiful, talented young woman. It’s just been a joy. ”When she went off to college, I was like, ‘OK, what do I do now.

Life took an interesting turn when director Jordan Peele asked Donna to appear in his latest sci-fi thriller, “Nope”.

Donna’s stars as Bonnie Clayton, and she is featured in a key early scene of the film. “I literally couldn’t tell my daughter. It was hard because everybody wanted to know, ‘What is it really about?’ People asked, and I said, ‘I’m really sorry, but nope!’ ”

Grey matter direct client donna mills and daughter chloe

Donna and Chloe at the London Premier of Jordan Peele’s “Nope”

Donna got the part by doing a self-tape audition. However, to her surprise, the scene that she was given wasn’t from “Nope.” “It was a scene from ‘Blue Jasmine,’” said Mills of the 2013 film for which Cate Blanchett won a Best Actress Oscar. “I went, ‘Oh goodness, they’ve made a mistake!’ My agent called, and they said, ‘No, that’s the scene he wants her to do.’

Peele was immediately impressed by Mills’ skills. “He said, ‘Oh my God, that was the best audition! I’m gonna send you the script. If you like it, the part is yours.’ I thought to myself, ‘If I like it? I think I’m gonna like it.’”

Interestingly, Donna herself was never a big fan of scary movies until seeing Peele’s “Get Out” and “Us.” “I don’t like horror movies at all,” she said. “But ‘Get Out’ is one of my favorite movies ever.”

With her small but significant role in Nope, Donna hopes that this will mark the beginning of a new chapter of her career. At 82, she is pursuing new roles with a determined zeal.

“All I dreamed about when I wanted to be a dancer as a kid was the curtain opening and someone handing me a bouquet as I took my bow,” Mills said. “I have had a wonderful career so far. I do not see myself retiring. I want to work for as long as possible.”

In her personal life, Mills has “always been very independent. I’ve never married, but love is important to me. “I’ve always felt a woman being independent was important. It made me feel safer, I guess, to know that I can take care of myself.”

For many years, Mills was in a relationship with producer and singer Richard Holland but since 2001 she has been in a relationship with actor Larry Gilman. “I love him. He’s an incredibly kind, funny, wonderful man. I’m lucky to have found him. I found him late, but I found him. Everybody loves him. He’s great. I’ve always felt a woman being independent was important. It made me feel safer, I guess, to know that I can take care of myself. I want someone to be in my life to love and be with, to be a companion and to go places and all that, but if I have to, I can take care of myself.” She laughed. “And really, I had enough marriages as Abby!”

And now, Donna and Larry have taken the next step in the journey together by creating Mandeville Vineyards, a Malbec vineyard behind their estate in Los Angeles.

Several years ago, Donna and Larry started talking about starting a vineyard with all the extra land behind their Brentwood home. It was Larry

grey matter direct client donna mills with larry gilman

Donna Mills and Partner, Larry Gilman at their Malbec Vineyard and Winery in Brentwood, California.

who took charge of the project. “I started seeing paths being cleared and rebar going on. And so, he did it. And I said you can do it, but I got nothing to do with I,” Mills said.

But eventually she fell in love with it and become very much involved. “There’s weeding to do, trimming to do, tucking,” she said.

“With the 431 plants that we have, we will do between 50 and 75 cases a year. That’s between 600 and 900 bottles. Last year was our best year. We did 100 cases,” Gilman said.

Their vineyard is home to the only Malbec grown in Los Angeles — and it became their primary hobby during the pandemic. “There’s something about working in the soil, with things that grow that’s just very fulfilling, very calming,” she said.

Of aging itself, Donna Mills said, “I think about it all the time. I go, ‘This can’t be right.’ Maybe they forged my birth certificate or something. I don’t feel old.” Yes, she said, she does think about her mortality. “It sucks,” she said, laughing. “I want to stay here forever. I just do. But in your 70s and 80s you go, ‘Shit, how much longer do I have?’ That’s scary. So, I guess all you can do is live the fullest you can in what time you have left. I’m just grateful I have my health.” She knocks the wood. “I’m lucky.”

“More than anything right now, I would like to be an inspiration to women. I want to say to them, ‘In your 70s, even your 80s, it’s not over. You’ve got much more to do and much more to experience.’ That’s what I want to impart to people: ‘Wow, if she can do it, I can do it.’ That would be very fulfilling for me.”

Grey Matter Direct is proud to have Donna Mills as a client and we encourage you to visit her website. Be sure to check out the galleries of photos featuring Donna at every stage of her ever-evolving career.