Childhood & Early Life
Donna Mills was born as Donna Jean Miller on December 11, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois to Bernice and Frank Miller. She graduated from Taft High School before enrolling in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, she dropped out of college after one year to pursue a career in dance. While exploring other creative avenues, she started to act in plays.
Her early performances include minor acting roles in the productions of ‘Come Blow Your Horn’ and ‘My Fair Lady’, for which she travelled to New York City.
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Donna Mills made her television debut as Rocket in CBS’s soap opera ‘The Secret Storm’ in 1966. In the next year, she debuted in films with her role as Alice Keenan in ‘The Incident’. She received a longer on-screen role in 1967 when she was cast as Laura Donnelly Elliott in ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’, appearing in it until 1970.
Apart from working in films and TV series, Mills continued to work on stage, including in Woody Allen’s Broadway production ‘Don’t Drink the Water’. IN 1970, she appeared in episodes of ‘Love, American Style’ and ‘Lancer’. She starred with Clint Eastwood in the thriller film ‘Play Misty for Me’ (1971).
She starred as Jane Miller in 15 episodes of the sitcom ‘The Good Life’ from 1971 until 1972. In the same year, she was seen in films like ‘Haunts of the Very Rich’, ‘Rolling Man’, and ‘Night of Terror’.
For the rest of the decade, Mills played guest roles in various TV shows, including ‘Gunsmoke’ (1973), ‘Thriller’ (1974), ‘McMillan & Wife’ (1974), ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ (1975), ‘Police Woman’ (1976), ‘The Oregon Trail’ (1977), ‘The Love Boat’ (1978), and ‘Young Maverick’ (1979).
In 1980, she was cast as a series regular in the soap opera ‘Knots Landing’. The villainous character of Abby Cunningham became her most famous role, in which she appeared for nine years in over 200 episodes until 1989, and later returned for the finale in 1993.
She decided to take a break from soap operas and started focusing on TV movies in the 1990s. She was seen in films like ‘False Arrest’ (1991), ‘The President’s Child’ (1992), and ‘Remember’ (1993). During this period, she produced four movies as well.
In 1994, she appeared in an episode of ‘Dream On’ and later played the role of Beth Williamson in the hit film ‘Dangerous Intentions’ (1995). She made her return as Abby Cunningham in the reunion of ‘Knots Landing’ in 1997.
Her other movies from the 1990s include ‘The Stepford Husbands’ (1996) and ‘Moonlight Becomes You’ (1997). She also played the role of Sherry Doucette in four episodes of ‘The Melrose Place’ between 1996 and 1997.
Mills continued appearing in several films and TV series in the 2000s. Her most notable movies of this decade include ‘Love is a Four-Letter Word’ (2007) and ‘Ladies of the House’ (2008). She was also a guest star in series ‘Cold Case’, ‘Nip/Tuck,’ and ‘Dirty Sexy Money’.
In 2012, she was seen in an episode of ‘GCB’ as Bitsy Lourd. Her most famous role in the new era was her portrayal of Madeline Reeves in the hit series ‘General Hospital’, in which she appeared as a special guest star from 2014 to 2015. She later returned to reprise her role in 2018.
Mills continued to play minor roles in movies, such as ‘Deadly Revenge’ (2014), ‘When Life Keeps Getting in the Way’ (2014), ’Joy’ (2015), and ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ (2016). She also appeared in Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer-winning play ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ in 2017.
In 2018, she was cast as a series regular in the drama ‘Hilton Head Island’ as Victoria Trisk. Her recent movie roles include ‘Best Mom’ and ‘Light as Feather’, while her upcoming projects are: the film ‘Turnover’ and the TV series ‘Mood Swings’.