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Donna Mills grows suddenly shy when talk turns to her foxy good looks: Those gorgeous big blue eyes?``Oh, I just get enough sleep.'' On being tabbed one of the world's sexiest women four years straight by US magazine? ``That's just hype.'' So says the television favorite, modestly, in her San Fernando Valley, Californian office.But her heart-shaped, camera-friendly face, golden mane
and sensational dancer's legs account for much of what held viewers
mesmerized for nine seasons watching her as conniving, greedy bitch-fatale Abby Cunningham on the nighttime soap ``Knots Landing.''

The Ace Manipulator


Now Mills returned as that ace manipulator, along with other original cast members from the ``Dallas'' spinoff. A juicy reunion miniseries, ``Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac''  co-stars William Devane,
Kevin Dobson, Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark.
The two-parter places Mills' character in big doo-doo with the IRS,
and she plots to overcome this disaster with true  devious  Abby
style.
Premiering in 1979, ``Knots Landing'' was on the air for 14
seasons, making it TV's second longest-running prime-time dramatic
series. Donna Mills came onto the in 1980.

The Soap Diva


A decade earlier, on the afternoon soap ``Love Is a Many  Splendored Thing,'' she originated a stunningly different role: novice  nun Laura Donnelly. Explains the actress, with a note of mischief: ``I wore a full habit down to the floor, with an arch around the face and everything. But then I lost the habit, as they say. Laura got married, and her husband started to fool around on her.''
Mills, 53, reminisces from the headquarters of her own Donna Mills Productions. Today is busy-busy, she says, sighing and rattling off an overbooked afternoon slate. First, there's an insurance company physical. After that, a slew of nanny interviews to conduct. Then, finally, she'll ``go home and feed the kid.'' The kid is adorable 4-year-old Chloe, adopted by Mills at birth.

Single Mom's In Knots Over Adopted Baby


Being a single working mom, Mills has discovered, is far from a snap. Particularly today. ``It was so hard to leave her because she's got a little cold. She didn't want me to go,'' says the actress.  Mills insists she never had ``a burning desire'' to deliver a baby or, for that matter, to marry, though at one time, childbirth did hold some appeal. Then, apparently, time ran out. But ``I'd always thought, from when I was very young, that I would adopt,'' she says.
``Actually, I didn't want any children for a long time. I was too set on my own path. There were things I wanted to achieve. But once I'd accomplished a lot of that, I began to think -- later than most -- that I'd like to have a child and share whatever knowledge I'd gained.
``Many people have children much too early. You can be a better parent once you've reached some of your goals, because (kids) do
stop you in a lot of ways.''

What About Her Love Life?


Mills dates a special someone but won't talk about it, lest she ``jinx'' it, she says. Is this, at last, Mr. Right for the never-wed beauty? ``I don't care one way or the other'' about getting married, she says. ``If it was right, I would. Otherwise, no. I've had a number of long relationships that were like marriages, but they were easier to deal with than marriages when they were over.''
Besides, marriage might cramp her parenting style: ``Men and women are always having conflicts over how to raise the children. When you're a single parent, you don't have that.''  Clint Eastwood Was "Misty" For Her
The Mills face is a familiar one to TV audiences: She first appeared on afternoon soap operas, including ``The Secret Storm,'' back in the '60s. She went on to make dozens of tele-flicks and drew plenty of attention for her work in the 1971 feature ``Play Misty for Me,'' Clint Eastwood's directorial debut and now a campy classic. Mills co-starred as his sweet, wholesome girlfriend, Tobi, whom the crazed Jessica Walter tries to murder. Her most recent role was a recurring part early this season on TV's ``Melrose Place,'' playing
Sherri Larson, a classy woman with a checkered past.
Characters Tobi and Abby have about as much in common as sugar and salsa. ``If I had a choice of playing the goody-goody or the bad girl,'' Mills says, ``I'd be the bad girl. They're always more interesting.''

Gotta Love Those Bad Girls

Mills says she even applauds some Abby traits. ``She has the kind of ambition that I have. She never lets anything get in her way. If there's an obstacle, she finds a way around it. I admire that about her and try to emulate it. I don't think I'm as clever or scheming as she is, but I've always been driven to keep moving forward and achieve.'' Mills was born in Chicago to an oil company executive. Her mother was a dance instructor. Starting out as a hoofer, Mills tapped to New York City following a year of drama study and some summer
stock. Her first job was as a Broadway understudy in Woody Allen's early play, ``Don't Drink the Water.'' ``I remember the very first day of rehearsals,'' Mills says.``Everyone was slightly dressed up, as is typical. The men came in
with suits, the women wore dresses. Woody was wearing jeans or corduroys, and looking kind of rumpled. But at lunch he went home and came back in a suit because all the other men were wearing them. I think he felt a little intimidated.''

The Proverbial Big Break


On television, Mills first got noticed in the short-lived sitcom,``The Good Life,'' in which she and Larry Hagman co-starred as servants to rich folks. She played the poor victim in countless crime-series episodes, then finally turned the tables by landing the role of home-wrecker Abby.
Following leads in such TV movies as ``Curse of the Black Widow'' and ``Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby,'' Mills launched a producing career in 1986. ``I'm not just a producer in title,'' she explains. ``I really get in there and work with the editors and costume and set designers. I like the satisfaction of having the final product be what I want it to be. As just an actress, you have no
control over that.'' Mills likes to executive-produce issue-oriented movies, such as ``My Name Is Kate,'' which was about alcoholism. ``I've tried to develop scripts that have entertainment value, but that also have something to say. You get letters from people: `I saw so-and-so movie, and it made a difference in my life.' '' Mills and Chloe live in Beverly Hills, and Mom confesses that
motherhood has dealt some surprises. ``When they're little babies, you go, `What is that?' Thank goodness for books and friends. If you haven't read about it or talked to other mothers and found out their kids did the same thing, you'd think it was very odd.'' Take temper tantrums. With toddler Chloe now journeying through the so-called terrible twos, Mills is coping with tough
independence-asserting behavior. ``When you see a kid in a store having a tantrum, you think, `Oh, that child is so spoiled!' But that's not it at all,'' she says. ``It's part of their development -- it's just what they do at that age.''

Mills As Stage Mom?

How would she feel if Chloe had a yen, down the road, to follow in Mom's actress footsteps? ``I wouldn't encourage her -- but I wouldn't tell her no. I was very lucky as a youth knowing exactly what I wanted to do. The worst thing in the world is for a kid not to know what they want to do with their life and just kind of drift. If Chloe wanted to be in the business, I'd say, `OK, fine.' ''

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Ultimate Knots Landing 1999

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