One of Mark Zunino’s most fashionable and regular clients has been legendary actress Donna Mills. Never failing to look stunning in an original MZ design, Donna has the unique ability of combining a youthful point of view with old school Hollywood glamour. We’re thrilled to showcase our friend Donna as this month’s featured cover star. Read on to learn more about her amazing career and enjoy an exclusive photo session wearing Mark Zunino Couture!
Donna Mills was born Donna Jean Miller in Chicago. After attending one year of college in Illinois, she left to pursue a dancing career. She gained some early stage experience when she danced in sevral summer stock productions. Her first professional acting role was in a production of “Come Blow Your Horn” at the Drury Lane Theater in Chicago. She later was cast in a touring production of “My Fair Lady,” which brought her to New York City.
Donna began her acting career on television in New York 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 feature film debut in “The Incident” (1967). She then returned to Broadway in Woody Allen's comedy “Don't Drink the Water.” In the fall of 1967, she gained a regular role as ex-nun Laura Donnelly on the soap “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.” She was a cast member for three years, until she left the series in 1970 and moved to California. In 1971, Donna was cast in Clint Eastwood’s directorial feature film debut “Play Misty For Me,” costarring Eastwood and Jessica Walter. It proved to be a star-making role and the beginning of a successful career. Following “Play Misty For Me” Donna became a staple of 1970‘s television. She starred in the short-lived sitcom “The Good Life” with Larry Hagman as well as appearing as a guest on top-rated television shows such as “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “The Love Boat,” “CHiPs,” “The FBI,” “Quincy, M.E.,” “Police Woman” and “Fantasy Island,” as well as several made-for-TV movies.
In 1980, Mills landed her most prominent role — that of scheming, manipulative Abby Cunningham on the long-running CBS primetime soap opera “Knots Landing.” Mills portrayed Abby from 1980–1989. Prior to being cast in Knots Landing, Mills was primarily known for playing the "damsel in distress" archetype, often leading to unwanted typecasting. In an interview Mills said: "I got tired of playing the victim. [Abby is] a more active role; she keeps things stirred up, and I like that." 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 vixens on primetime soaps, she was only out for money, not love. In addition to her weekly role on “Knots Landing,” Donna appeared in several television mini-series and movies throughout the 1980’s, including: “Bare Essence,” “Outback Bound,” “Intimate Encounters” and “The Lady Forgets.” It was during these tv movies that Donna started to flex her significant clout by becoming a producer as well. In 1985, the industry magazine “The Hollywood Reporter” named her The Lady Of The 80’s. She also won the Soap Opera Digest Award for “Knots Landing” in 1986, 1988 and 1989.
In the mid-1980’s, Donna launched a beauty program called “The Eyes Have It,” which was a complete makeup and skincare line (as well as a makeup and beauty tutorial) in response to the massive attention her stunning looks were garnering her. She also blazed a trail for women over 40 by appearing in “Playboy Magazine.”
In 1989, Mills announced her intention to leave the “Knots Landing” after nine years as Abby. According to Mills, she wanted to take a break from acting for a while, and from Abby as well. After “Knots Landing”, Mills concentrated on television movies, four of which she co-produced: “The World's Oldest Living Bridesmaid” (1990), “Runaway Father” (1991), “In My Daughter's Name” (1992) and “My Name Is Kate” (1994). She returned to “Knots Landing” for its final episode in 1993, and again for the reunion miniseries “Knots Landing: Back To The Cul-De-Sac” in 1997. In between, she had a recurring role on the wildly successful tv series “Melrose Place.”
The highlight of Donna’s career, however, was the arrival of her daughter Chloe in 1994. Her acting took a back seat while she focused on raising Chloe but, as her daughter became older, she began to reemerge on both the small and big screens. TV appearances in the 2000’s included the series “Cold Case,” “Nip/Tuck” and “GCB.”
In 2014, Mills made her return to daytime soap operas, for the first time since 1970. She was cast in a major recurring guest-starring role
in the ABC soap opera “General Hospital.” She debuted in mid-March and stayed to May. Later in that year, she returned for another multiple-episode arc. At the 42nd Daytime Emmy Awards, Mills won Outstanding Special Guest Performer In A Drama Series for her performance in “General Hospital,” a long-overdue honor. Mills’ streak continued with a role in David O. Russell's Academy Award-nominated film “Joy”, which was released in December 2015.
Currently living in Los Angeles with her partner of over a decade, Larry Gilman, Donna shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to acting, Donna is also an avid tennis player and is involved in a number of charitable organizations, including: People For The American Way, Environment California, Defenders Of Wildlife, Nuclear-Free California and Earth Communication Office. For more information on Donna, you can go to www.DonnaMills.com .