Millie Perkins

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Millie Perkins
Millie Perkins in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959).jpg
Perkins in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
Born (1938-05-12) May 12, 1938 (age 83)
Years active1959–2006
(m. 1960; div. 1962)

(m. 1964; died 1979)

Millie Perkins (born May 12, 1938) is an American film and television actress known for her debut film role as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), and for her supporting actress roles in two 1966 Westerns, The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind, both directed by Monte Hellman.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Perkins grew up in Fair Lawn[1] and attended Fair Lawn High School.[2] Her father was a merchant marine captain of Hungarian and Mongolian descent.[3] Perkins was working as a receptionist at a New York City advertising agency when she caught the eye of a visiting photographer with a resultant career as a model; by 1958, Perkins was an international cover girl.[4] In 1958, she was vigorously pursued, and then selected, to appear in her first film, The Diary of Anne Frank.

Perkins had never studied nor sought to be an actress, but George Stevens saw her photo and tried to convince her to read for the part. Finally, she flew to Hollywood for a screen test, and with much fanfare, landed the role of Anne Frank in George Stevens' 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank. Perkins received almost universally excellent reviews for her portrayal of Frank, although the film was less of a box-office success than expected.

Perkins on a visit to Israel in 1959

After her work with George Stevens, Perkins was placed under contract to 20th Century Fox. She was one of the promising young stars of Hollywood, but the studio contract system, which was coming to an end, was a poor fit for Perkins, who had come of age with the Beat Generation in 1950s New York City. George Stevens would later state: "Millie did not fit in. She was 10 years too early." Suspended for refusing the lead in the 1960 film Tess of the Storm Country – Perkins saw the film as a B-picture and a step back career-wise – Perkins was cast by 20th Century Fox in the 1961 film Wild in the Country, playing the supporting role of the girlfriend to star Elvis Presley – she would later play Gladys Presley in the 1990 miniseries Elvis; the studio then dropped Perkins. Joshua Logan personally selected Perkins for the female lead in the 1964 film Ensign Pulver, but the film was a failure; Perkins would not appear in another mainstream film release for almost 20 years. She played the female lead in both of Jack Nicholson's inaugural productions The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind – shot side by side in 1965 – and in 1968 co-starred in Wild in the Streets which was written by her then-husband Robert Thom.

Later career[edit]

In 1976, Perkins moved to Jacksonville, Oregon, with her two daughters by Robert Thom, Lillie and Hedy; in 1977, People magazine reported that Perkins "conducts a drama-therapy workshop every Tuesday night in her living room and often speaks to high-school drama groups in the area."[5] By 1978, Perkins was sufficiently far off the Hollywood radar that the Screen Actors Guild had her on their inactive list and that September, Hollywood column "Ask Dick Kleiner" responded to the query: "What ever happened to Millie Perkins?" with "Millie Perkins died recently"; a letter from Perkins herself resulted in a January 1979 retraction by Kleiner, although the columnist maintained: "almost everyone in Hollywood believes that [Perkins] died." In 1982, however, it was reported that Perkins was teaching drama at Southern Oregon University.[6]

In 1983, Perkins returned to features to play Jon Voight's ex-wife in Table for Five. She then played the mother role for the next 20 years, such as Sean Penn's mother in the fact-based film At Close Range, the mother of Charlie Sheen's character in the 1987 movie Wall Street, the bereft Jewish mother in the 1996 film The Chamber, and Andy García's mother in the 2005 film The Lost City.

Television work[edit]

In 1961,Perkins made her television debut as a guest star on Wagon Train. As with her film work, her television appearances were sporadic until the 1980s, from when she had appeared on a variety of television shows, including seven episodes of Knots Landing (over the period 1983–1990) and four episodes of Any Day Now (1998–2002). She portrayed character Glenda Vandervere in Murder, She Wrote (season two, episode 12: "Murder by Appointment Only") (01/05/1986). Perkins retired from acting after a 2006 six-episode arc on the television soap opera The Young and the Restless. Recent to her retirement, she was honored in the 2004 action-adventure video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in which one of the storyline girlfriends to protagonist Carl "CJ" Johnson, voiced by Orfeh, was named after her.


On April 15, 1960, she married actor Dean Stockwell. They divorced on July 30, 1962. She later married writer and director Robert Thom, who wrote the script for the popular 1968 movie Wild in the Streets, in which she appeared. They had two children: Lillie Thom (b. 1966) and Hedy Thom (b. 1969).[5] Perkins and Thom had been separated for some time when Thom died in 1979.




This, unlike the complete film listing above, includes only series in which Perkins had a recurring role.


  1. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. "Anne Frank's Role Settled: Millie Perkins, 18, Winner; Brynner's Schedule Busiest", Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1958. Accessed June 2, 2008. "Diary has its Anne Frank. She is Millie Perkins, magazine cover-girl who was born in Passaic, N.J., 18 years ago and educated in Fair Lawn, N.J.
  2. ^ Christianson, Cornell; and Diepveen, Jane Lyle. Legendary Locals of Fair Lawn, p. 56. Arcadia Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1-467-10106-6. Accessed July 17, 2018. "In 1964, Millie Perkins was the female lead in Jack Nicholson's inaugural film productions The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind. After graduating from Fair Lawn High School, she worked as a receptionist in New York when a photographer discovered her, and she became an international cover girl."
  3. ^ Tides and Nightmares: The Making of The Witch Who Came from the Sea. The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Blu-ray documentary). Arrow Video. 2017. Event occurs at 4:00.
  4. ^ "New Picture", Time, A friend and photographer Walter Karl Gluck took a photo of Millie and sent it to producer George Stevens, who was conducting a very public search for the girl to play the title role in The Diary of Anne Frank. "Stevens' choice was an 18-year-old model from Fair Lawn, N.J. named Millie Perkins."
  5. ^ a b Reiss, Al (November 28, 1977). "No Role Could Ever Match 'Anne Frank,' So Millie Perkins Retreated to Rural Oregon". People. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Scott, Vernon (June 10, 1982). "Scott's World: Millie Perkins Is Anne Frank". United Press International. Archived from the original on June 13, 2019.

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