Donna Mills took 18 years off: ‘I didn’t become a mother to give her to a nanny’

Donna Mills has an interview with People Magazine as part of their The Beautiful issue. (I thought Donna was in her early 70s just based on what I know about her career and how young she looks, but she’s 81.) She has a 27 year-old daughter, Chloe, who was adopted as an infant when Donna was 54. She then took 18 years off acting to raise Chloe. Donna talked about this with People, saying she has no regrets at having a child later in life because she was focused on her career up until then. She dished on several things to People, including plastic surgery. People is quoting her as saying she doesn’t get plastic surgery, but I don’t think she said that exactly unless they’re omitting key quotes. The way she phrases that is vague. Here’s more of what Donna told People:

Donna Mills… spoke to PEOPLE in the latest issue about how she paved her own unique career path in Hollywood, as well as a full life off-screen, which included becoming a mother in her 50s…

“I was very concentrated on my career, but at a certain point, I realized there was something missing — it was a child,” she says. “So I went after it. I adopted her when she was four days old.”

“By that time, I was 54 and people said, ‘You’re going to be so old [to] have a little toddler running around.’ I never felt that,” she recalls. “I never felt older than the other mothers who were probably in their 20s.”

It was perfect timing for Mills, who encourages others to consider the same.

“If you want to give to your career, I say having a child later in life is better than having a child early,” she says.

Though years have passed, Mills says she and her daughter are still very close.

“We see each other at least once a week and we talk every day or text,” she explains of their bond…

“I took off 18 years. I didn’t work,” she says. “Well, the first couple of years, I did work. I did some movies for television and stuff like that, because I could take her wherever I went. But then when she started school, I wasn’t going to go out of town for two months at a time. And I didn’t become a mother to give her to a nanny.”

In addition to her words of wisdom for anyone considering becoming a parent later in life, Mills, a proud octogenarian, also shared her secrets to aging gracefully: no to cosmetic procedures, yes to natural lines and mindful eating…

She adds: “For skin care, the main thing is stay out of the frickin’ sun! It makes such a difference. And somebody asked me, ‘Why don’t you get [cosmetic enhancements]?’ No, because I’m not going to look like a duck. I’d rather have lines than a duck bill.”

[From People]

That’s sweet that Donna sees her daughter once a week and that they talk every day! I wish my mom lived closer to me so I could do that. We used to hang out so much when she lived close to me. Donna dedicated almost 20 years to raising her daughter and her career and finances enabled that. Not every woman wants to be a full time mom like that or can afford it of course. I know that’s not what I wanted to do, but she’s just sharing her path and preferences.

As for plastic surgery, I didn’t use that part of her interview as the headline because I wasn’t sure People was reporting what she said accurately. Based on the quotes she gave, she likely said she doesn’t get fillers and Botox. I don’t think she ruled it out entirely or said she hasn’t had anything done, but I could be wrong.

Donna is in Nope, out July 22nd. I can’t wait for that movie!

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49 Responses to “Donna Mills took 18 years off: ‘I didn’t become a mother to give her to a nanny’”

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  1. emmi says:

    So she gave 100% to her career and then 100% to her child. That’s great. For her. Most women can’t do that and what’s with the unnecessary nanny-shaming? Are we still doing that? I’m confused. I have no children and don’t want any but there are countless babies/toddlers and pregnant women in my circle of friends and I think all of them would give their left t*t for a nanny. Understandable if you ask me.

    • Anna says:

      I think her situation was different, because her work required to be on set for 2 months non-stop, not leave for 7-8 hours and come back. I hate nanny-shaming not acknowledging that it’s a priviledge to prioritise children over work, but I don’t think this is the case here.

      • Tessa says:

        Hmm, but she was also probably off for months at a time and getting enough money to bring her daughter AND the nanny along, so ultimately, I’m not sure it was worse than leaving for 7-8 hours and coming back (not to mention that it’s rarely 7-8 hours for regular Moms, my commute was 1,5 one way and it’s extremely common for my area, so add that to 8 hours and you’re quickly at 11-12 hours, and then you get home and need to cook and bathe, etc., so it’s not exactly a picnic).

      • emmi says:

        Well, two things. One, she didn’t actually take 18 years off if her Wikipedia is any indication so she was being a bit dramatic. Seems like now and then she could “leave her child” and two, I think she also took time off because the parts were just not what she was looking for: “These days, Mills is taking time to raise her 13-year-old daughter and work for environmental causes, partly because she says the only roles she’s offered are those of cougars, not well-rounded women with full lives.” (Out snipped from 2009). So maybe she embellished a little here.

        Actors have kids all the time and continue working. I’m just saying she sounded a little patronizing.

    • Sue E Generis says:

      I think she meant leaving her kid for months at a time. Actresses and musicians on tour wouldn’t be able to come home at the end of every day.

      • Debbie says:

        I think you’re correct, she was speaking about her own situation. I don’t know why some people are internalizing what someone who worked as an actress, with a different schedule and a very different set of life circumstances – who was speaking about her own decisions made. However, as soon as I read the title of the story, I knew there would be a chorus of “What about me?!” Perhaps, she was reflecting on her own circumstances as a single mother who, I’m sure, went through a rigorous adoption process to become a mother. I really don’t see how that diminishes anyone who made a different choice because their own lives were different. And I speak as someone who was a working mother.

    • TeamMeg says:

      What’s with the stay-at-home-mom shaming? She made a personal choice. She’s not judging anyone else for their choice. Women who choose career, daycare and nannies over being home with their kids have every right to do so. Women who choose staying home with their kids (which often means prioritizing needs over wants, financially—I know that was the case in our family) also have that right. It’s not a competition.

      As for women who wish they could stay home with their kids but do not have the choice, that is another topic. These women and families are being failed by a system which does not support long-term parental leave or families in general. It’s better and different in many other developed countries. Sadly not the case here in the USA.

      • emmi says:

        Huh? Where did you get THAT from my comment? I’m not the one who proclaimed she didn’t have a kid “to give her to a nanny”, those are her words. Those words read a little judgy to me. She made choices that worked for her, great. But most women do not choose anything over their kids, they mostly do NOT have a choice. Those are rarely separate conversations.

    • liz says:

      Don’t assume that every woman wants the same thing. In particular, don’t assume that every mother wants a nanny (I was a stay at home mother with a babysitter 3 or 4 hours a week, which was exactly what we wanted). Reliable, affordable child care is a different story – most working parents would love to have that, but it just doesn’t really exist in the US (you can have affordable or you can have reliable, both at the same time is a fantasy).

      Many of my friends didn’t want a nanny. They didn’t want someone in their homes all day long and didn’t want to have to rig their homes with nanny-cams. Working parents, particularly those with set, regular schedules will often opt for day care. They look for well run places where there are multiple people watching each other and where there is backup coverage when someone is sick or on vacation.

    • Shiba says:

      She spoke truthfully-for herself.
      It was a quote reported in a magazine- there may have been more, like
      “no disrespect to working moms.” that wasn’t included.
      Stand down, communication police 😊

  2. Eurydice says:

    Nice to see happy people. She looks great, but at the least she’s had an eye lift.

    • minx says:

      And a face lift. No 80 year old has a jawline like that.

      • NotSoSocialB says:

        Totally. All you have to do is look at her neck, then look at her face. Clearly it wasn’t recently, but that is definitely a lift.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Yes, no shame but she has had an entire face lift. No 81 year old woman’s skin is that tight!! Not unless they are in space….

      • Roast says:

        Good lord! She looks amazing for 80. I’m early 50s and my neck looks much worse than hers. It’s nice to hear of an older person successfully adapting to the schedules of a baby. Isn’t it nice to know that there will probably be a bountiful supply of locally-sourced infants thanks to forced-full-term-pregnancies (thanks to politicians in general – I’m neither red or blue).

      • AMA1977 says:

        What an odd comment. Please tell me which of the “blue” politicians are attempting to strip women of their right to choose? I’ll wait.

    • Wilma says:

      You wonder if she realizes that we can see the pictures she posts 😂

  3. Che Che says:

    Love women who think and act outside a prescribed path for success. Ms Mills followed her heart and was rewarded with a solid relationship with her child. Great Mother’s Day follow up story.

    • liz says:

      Agreed. She did what was right for her and for her child. Clearly her career took a big hit, but it looks like her life ended up exactly as she wanted.

  4. FHMom says:

    I bet there is a whole generation of Celebitches who have no idea who she is. And that is a shame. Knots Landing, Dallas and Dynasty were huge soap opera type shows in the 80’s. She was the head diva of Knots Landing.

    I will never believe she has not had any plastic surgery.

    • Barbiem says:

      Thanks. Saved me googling her!
      I remember knots landing but not well.

    • Chicken says:

      Thanks for the info, I had no idea who she was.

      • Velvet Elvis says:

        She looks amazing. I don’t think she’s using botox or fillers but I definitely think she’s had a facelift.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I don’t know….Dame Joan Collins is still a dynamic force to be reckoned with!!!

      Yes, I am a boomer!! I said it!!! Though I didn’t watch the shows but I did get a big kick out of the costumes and their shoulder pads.
      Makes me think of CopyKeen 😥

      Knots Landing was a decent show, though I never watched it. I spent my Saturday nights with my mother watching GG’s every Saturday night! How’s that for a wild 20+ year old!!!

    • Lizzie says:

      My grandma watched daytime soaps. I remember Donna on Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

    • Debbie says:

      She was also in the Clint Eastwood suspense movie called “Play Misty For Me” with Jessica Walter.

  5. Roo says:

    That photo of them in the white outfits is adorable! So sweet and funny.

    It sounds like they have a happy family life. Donna will always represent 80s and early 90s glamour to me and I hope she is enjoying her career.

  6. teehee says:

    Team conscious and dedicated parenting all the way!

  7. Andrea says:

    How wonderful that she had the ability to take 18 years off work to be with her daughter. I guess those who are forced to continue working to support their family or who are committed to their career shouldn’t bother having children (or should wait until they’re retirement age) 🥴

  8. Jo says:

    I am a bit sick of the age conversation. It’s so reductive and mostly unnecessary not to mention cruel. I am now 46 and watching the effects age has on my generation of friends and colleagues. This is that terrible age where some people look thirty and others look fifty. Some people are balding and others still look banging at the beach. Regardless of lifestyle, some people are genetically more prone to ageing sooner. That’s just the way it is, and that’s ok. I find that a lot of those people who look older than they are are more charismatic and appealing than before. Others who look super young do nothing for me. We are more than the sum of our parts.
    It would be more interesting g to wonder if her choice of no nanny is related to the complexity of raising a child from adoption. Otherwise it sounds very preachy and privileged.

  9. Lala11_7 says:

    It’s WONDERFUL when Women are able to make CHOICES regarding being a Parent…and THAT is what I want for ALL Women!

    • Jo says:

      Agreed, to some extent. Choices are made within contexts and there are reasons to dedicate 18 years of your life (or more if you have more kids) to (a) child(ren). Special needs, a chronic disease, a traumatised child, long commuting etc. But we should also wonder about the children. I have never heard someone complain about their parents being away for work, but I have heard of people being in therapy bc the parents were just not there for them, despite being physically there. I am not sure constant physical presence is needed and even desirable. I almost have a tendency to think that dedicating your life to a kid is a hell of a burden on the kid – unless there are situations like the one I described.
      But I get your point of just made me think of choices and why we make them.

      • liz says:

        Kids get used to whatever is “normal” for their situation and some travel is normal for a lot of families. Having a parent who travels for work a few days a month is very normal for a lot of kids (that’s how my kid grew up). Even having a parent who is away for a week or two at a time isn’t uncommon.

        If a parent is gone for weeks or months at a time – those kids will often complain. My father was a college football coach – he was gone from mid-August to mid-March every year – from the beginning of the pre-season until the recruiting trips were finished. I hated it and yes, I complained about it. Six year old me asking Dad to invite the recruits to our house instead of visiting them at their homes was a dinner table story for years.

        Actors on a movie set will also be gone for weeks or months at a time. We have all heard stories of couples scheduling projects so that only one of them will be away and working at a time. For a single parent, like Mills, that was not possible.

      • Jo says:

        Liz, not liking and being traumatized by it are two different things. Of course you didn’t like your dad to go away. But it was job. And someone with the means she has could have taken her kid on the road like many actors do. That’s why her comment comes across as a simplification of her reality – as many have pointed out she did work and she did say that no interesting roles came her way.
        Thinking in terms of context she is older and comes from a generation where some wealthy or celeb kids hardly saw their parents and I get what she is implying in that sense but it still needs a lot of nuance.

  10. Mia1066 says:

    Gosh I couldn’t place her but I did watch all those 80s shows. Good on her for having the ability to take time off. But if she worked for the first few years then she had a nanny on set. She didn’t then travel for work while her daughter was in school, which was nice for both of them. They were lucky and appear to have a great bond.

  11. Gillysirl says:

    I’m reading her comments as if she’s talking to one of my parents or their friends and not to the world at large. Talking about taking 18 years off because…nanny…etc, sounds like a defense she’s had to make a lot and it worked out for her so now she’s a bit smug about it. And not putting context off current reality to what she’s saying. Not agreeing- but like my parents, she doesn’t understand (and doesn’t seem to try to) the world today.

    And no way has she not had plastic surgery, maybe not lip injections but no one over 80 has firm upper eyelids- no matter how little sun you got.

  12. Turtledove says:

    So, random observation, the whites of her eyes are grey. Is that a thing? I don’t think I have EVER noticed that before.

    I think it is awesome that she was able to take all that time off to be a full time mom. But the “I didn’t become a mom to hand her off to a nanny” does come across as really snide. Some of us HAVE to work and still want kids.

    It’s one thing to be rich and be happy to be able to do things exactly on your terms, I fully understand THAT. That’s the bonus of $, it can’t buy you happiness, but it can remove a lot of obstacles. (Adopting is easier with $ as well)

    • HoofRat says:

      Even if a mother has the financial resources to stay home, not everyone wants to. My awesome, loving mother once told me she went back to work after every child because she would have gone completely bonkers spending all day surrounded by short people with rudimentary vocabularies.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        My mother worked our entire childhood until adulthood. She was an ER nurse and proud of it. Granted we had a maid until I was able to become a latch key kid. She set great boundaries to show us it can be done, plus she loved nursing. It was her passions and first love. I remember going to daycare when it was still dark, as they were just down the road from the hospital as she worked 6-3.

  13. daisyfly says:

    I get what she’s saying. She wasn’t insinuating that mothers who work are bad. She’s talking about women with her privilege/money having children only to have them be watched by nannies their entire lives despite being able to not work at all and stay home with them.

    More specifically, she’s talking about her peers, who had children but did everything but be actual mothers to them.

    • Margot says:

      That’s how I took it. I see a lot of parents willing to hand off all the childcare to a nanny so they can buy more luxury goods. Some could ramp down work so they could focus more on kids for a time (I understand that not all careers are amenable to this) but that’s not a priority. Different strokes, I guess.

    • lucy2 says:

      I read it that way as well, I’m sure she saw a lot of colleagues do just that, have kids and never spend time with them, and didn’t want that for herself and her kid. She was fortunate to be in a position to do what she did.

    • Jules says:

      Agreed. I think she’s very much talking about herself and maybe women like her. I’m sure she has friends with nannies but who have different circumstances and doesn’t judge them. She focused on her career so much this was how she focused on child-rearing, for the most part. She saved and sacrificed for years…she didn’t adopt just to check something off a list and then hand off the responsibility but she’s only referring to herself and not others, so I’d agree with you. Definitely nothing wrong with having nannies, or staying home, or working or having your parents or in-laws nearby…it’s all about what works for the parent and their child/families.

  14. Dashen’ka says:

    Child does not need mother 24/7 for 18 years. It is truly madness for both.

  15. Jessica says:

    I have friends who lost their mothers young, so you never know how long you have with your children. I admire her spirit of just going for it and devoting the second part of her life to being a mom! I don’t feel like her comment was shaming anyone necessarily, well maybe a little, lol.

  16. Giddy says:

    If she had a facelift, eye lift etc., all I know is that it was the absolute best doctor. Because she looks fabulous!

  17. Elsa says:

    I’m betting that she has had a bit of a nip and tuck. And it’s ok!!! Why lie about it???

  18. Eggbert says:

    I thought it was a pic of Lisa Kudrow at first.