Donna Mills

Active - 1967 - 2015  |   Born - Dec 11, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Blonde, buoyant Donna Mills began acting in local amateur and professional productions in her home town of Chicago. Donna made her Broadway bow as a harem girl in Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water, then played recurring roles on the Manhattan-based TV soap operas The Secret Storm and Love is a Many Splendored Thing. After playing Clint Eastwood's imperiled girlfriend in the theatrical feature Play Misty for Me (1971), Mills spent an unsatisfying few years typecast as a damsel in distress: all too typical was the title of her 1972 TV movie Bait. Donna Mills forever altered her on-screen image from trembling helplessness to calculating truculence in the role of Abby Cunningham Ewing, the second wife of Dallas "black sheep" Gary Ewing (Ted Shackleford), in the nighttime serial Knot's Landing (1980-89); coincidentally, Mills had co-starred with J. R. Ewing himself (aka Larry Hagman) on the now-forgotten 1971 sitcom The Good Life.

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  • Attended the high school which served as the model for Rydell High in the 1971 musical Grease, cowritten by fellow Taft High School alum, Jim Jacobs.
  • Left college after one year to pursue an acting and dancing career, first in her hometown of Chicago, before eventually moving on to New York theater productions and Manhattan-based TV soaps.
  • Made her Broadway debut in 1966 in the Woody Allen-penned comedy Don't Drink the Water.
  • Costarred as Larry Hagman's wife in the short-lived NBC sitcom The Good Life (1971-72), nearly a decade before her breakout role on the Dallas spin-off Knots Landing.
  • Released a how-to video entitled The Eyes Have It in 1986, focusing on the application of makeup, and later launched a cosmetic line of the same name.