(Meeting a Disney Legend) Pollyanna is back in Harrington!

On Tuesday April 4, we had the pleasure of having actress and Disney Legend Hayley Mills at Disneyland Paris. On this occasion, our Ambassadors Carmen and Quentin welcomed her in Harrington’s Fine China & Porcelains Shop on Main Street, U.S.A., the décor of which was directly inspired by Pollyanna (1960), the first Disney film in which she was the heroine. Hayley took the opportunity to discuss what she remembers about Walt and filming.

How did your first meeting with Walt Disney go?

It was at The Dorchester, a famous hotel in London. Walt wanted to meet me to make sure I was the right person to play Pollyanna. So I went to the hotel with my parents, my then 9-year-old brother and a white Pekingese puppy called Suki that had been given to us by friends. At the time, Walt resided in the Harlequin suite. I was 12 at the time and I remember the door to the suite very well. There was a porcelain disc on which an Arlequin was painted with red and white stripes. It felt like the perfect door to take us to Walt Disney. When it opened, we saw a man in grey trousers and a yellow cardigan, with grey hair and a moustache. My parents, my brother and I stood still for a while watching him without being able to say a word. For us and most people, Walt Disney was mainly a studio and a name that you could read at the beginning of each of his films and suddenly this legendary man became a real person! We could barely believe it! We went in and after the introductions, my brother and I started playing with Suki. The most incredible thing is that Walt started playing with us! He was a very down-to-earth person who loved animals. We stayed with him quite a while. We wandered around his entire suite, particularly the balcony from where we could gaze at the spectacular view of London. He and my parents got along very well. I also remember that he introduced me to a mocktail called “Shirley Temple”, named in tribute to the famous actress who gave him the Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in the form of a statue together with seven statuettes. I would very much like to have my granddaughter taste it, in memory of this meeting.

What memories do you have of filming Pollyanna?

It was a very important film for Disney and the studios did not skimp on any details. The décor of Aunt Polly Harrington’s home was very refined, with huge mirrors and many other accessories from abroad. I particularly remember the costumes, which were highly sought after. Walt had them designed by Walter Plankett, a renowned expert in period costumes for cinema, including those for Gone with the Wind. Everything had been done to make this reconstruction of America in the 1910s as authentic as possible.

What do you think of our shop, Harrington’s Fine China & Porcelains, which is a tribute to the film?

It’s a wonderful shop, with this beautiful stained glass window above the main till. I can really feel the spirit of the film there. I especially love the lighting. In the script, Pollyanna uses the crystal prisms from lamps to cast rainbows in both Mr Pendergast’s and Ms Snow’s homes. It adds a bit of colour to their gloomy lives. And they are the same prisms found here. It’s one detail that touches me a lot.

I also love the costumes worn by Cast Members in the shop. They fit perfectly with the style and are very colourful. When you see them all together, they look like a bunch of flowers!

You went on to shoot many Disney films such as The Parent TrapIn Search of the Castaways and That Darn Cat! The Movie. But what did you take away from this very first experience at the Studios?

Pollyanna is such a charming story, with this “Glad Game” that her father taught her; this way of always focusing on the positive side of things. I think it has influenced me a lot in my personal life. I’m the kind of person who tends to see the glass half full rather than half empty, as they say. Like Pollyanna, I think that in life, despite the difficulties, you can always find a reason to be happy. This is a very strong message that still inspires me today.

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