Donald Duck and Haley Mills

NBC Airs “Disney Animation The Illusion of Life” on Disney’s Wonderful World

On this day in 1981, Hayley Mills hosted an episode of Disney’s Wonderful World entitled “Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life.” Corresponding and loosely tied to the book of the same name by Disney Legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, Hayley tours the Walt Disney Studios to show viewers the process of animation. According to Hayley, she is on the Lot to read for the part of Eilonwy in The Black Cauldron, and at one point she meets up with Pearl Bailey, the voice of the wise owl Big Mama in The Fox and the Hound, to pick up tips on providing a voice for a Disney film and to observe her in a recording session. Hayley’s tour takes her throughout the studio, including the Disney Archives, and to visits with master animators such as Disney Legends Marc Davis and Ken Anderson as well as Frank and Ollie. The film concludes with Hayley in a meeting with some of The Black Cauldron staff and the creators of Eilonwy, who give her insight into the character. Although Hayley’s exhaustive research gave her, and viewers, a newfound education regarding the animation process, it evidently was not enough to win her the role of Eilonwy—actress Susan Sheridan voiced her in the film.