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Annette Mills (1894 – 10 January 1955) was an English actress, dancer and broadcaster, and concert pianist.

She was born Edith Mabel Mills in Wandsworth,[1] London. She had originally intended to become a concert pianist and organist, before becoming a dancer, subsequently finding fame as an international exhibition dancer. However, fate struck her a cruel blow when she was forced to 'retire' from professional dancing after breaking a leg. That career over, she turned her hand to songwriting and penned the two popular tunes "Boomps-a-Daisy" and "Home, Sweet Home Again", amongst many others. Some time later, Mills returned to the work of cabaret and revues, and it was while she was on her way to entertain the troops during the Second World War that she was involved in a horrific car accident, which left her hospitalised for the next three years. However, she was insuppressible - fighting hard to regain her strength and health.

Mills is best remembered for being the partner of the puppet "Muffin", in the successful BBC Television series Muffin the Mule between 1946 and 1955. She wrote the songs and the music, while puppeteer Ann Hogarth wrote the scripts. She made her TV debut in June 1946, when she first appeared with Muffin the Mule, who used to clip-clop around on top of a piano, whilst Mills played a tune. She wrote several Muffin the Mule songbooks and an adventure tale about him, as well as making records.

Later, Mills and Muffin were joined in the BBC's 'For the Children' spot by Prudence the kitten, Mr Peregrine the penguin, Sally the sea-lion and Louise the lamb. Although all of the puppets captured the hearts of millions of young viewers, it was Muffin that stole the show. The press commented how he had fired children's imaginations - paving the way for other puppet characters, such as Sooty and Sweep.

Muffin's last TV appearance was the 2 January 1955, with Mills dying eight days later, at the age of 61, after an operation. She had suffered from a heart attack.

Her younger brother Sir John Mills became a successful actor and her granddaughter is the actress Susie Blake. She was the Aunt of Hayley Mills and Juliet Mills. Annette Mills was married twice, with a daughter by her first husband and her second marriage, to Robert Sielle, ending in divorce.

References

  1. ^ Births England and Wales 1837-1915

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