Recently, one of the last surviving cast members of Disney’s iconic 1961 romantic comedy The Parent Trap passed away. Now, the only living cast member is 76-year-old English actress Hayley Mills.
The Parent Trap hit theaters in 1961 and was met with critical acclaim. The New York Times praised Hayley Mills for giving what they called a ‘cheerfully persuasive performance’. While Variety called it a ‘winner’ despite being ‘absolutely predictable from the outset’. Once again, Mills performance was lauded as being one of the film’s biggest strengths. The outlet noted that Mills’ instinctive sense of comedy and uncanny ability to react in precisely the right manner contributed to the film’s overall appeal.
The film was about two identical twin sisters who were separated at birth but later reunited at summer camp. The film starred Hayley Mills as both twins, Maureen O’Hara as the girls’ mother, and Brian Keith as their father.
Join Facts Verse as we take a little trip down memory lane to discuss the cast of this hugely influential film and only one surviving cast member left from the Parent Trap. Not only will you learn a bit about each actor’s prolific careers, but we’ll also let you know how each of them died.
On April 29, 2022, veteran actress Joanna Barnes, who starred in both the 1961 and the 1998 versions of The Parent Trap, passed away at the age of 89. She died in her home in California after succumbing to multiple health problems.
Despite having had appeared in dozens of films and television shows, Barnes was arguably best known for playing Vicky Robinson, a conniving, devious woman who married a father with twins whom she hated just for his money, in Disney’s 1961 romantic comedy The Parent Trap. In the 1998 remake, Barnes played Vicki Blake, Robinson’s equally unscrupulous mother.
Barnes also starred in films and television shows like Home Before Dark, Have Gun Will Travel, The Beverley Hillbillies, Violent Road, The War Wagon, and Tarzan the Ape Man.
This stage, film, and television actor devoted six decades of his life to his craft. He received recognition for his work in films like The Parent Trap, Johnny Shiloh, The Russians Are Coming, and The Wind And The Lion.
On TV, Keith played the bachelor turned reluctant parent Bill Davis on Family Affair and the tough-as-nails retired judge in Hardcastle and McCormick. He also was the titular star of The Brian Keith Show which aired from 1972 to 1974 on NBC.
In The Parent Trap, Keith played Mitch Evers, Susan and Sharon’s father.
Keith died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 75 on June 24, 1997. It was known that he suffered from lung cancer and emphysema and was struggling with financial problems and depression at the time of his death.
His former Parent Trap co-star, Maureen O’Hara stated in an interview that she did not believe that he had intentionally taken his own life. Instead, she suggested that he might have accidentally shot himself while cleaning or looking at one of the many guns he had in his collection.
O’Hara said that she had just visited him shortly before his death and reported him as being in good spirits. She also stated that his religious beliefs as a Catholic would have prevented him from committing suicide.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, on the 17th of August, 1920, O’Hara experienced success in Hollywood throughout the 1940s to the 1960s. She was known for playing passionate yet sensible female heroes, often in adventure and Western films.
She often worked with director John Ford and her lifelong friend John Wayne.
As a child, she trained with the Rathmines Theater Company when she was ten years old. When she was 14, she worked with the Abbey Theater.
The natural redhead was eventually given a screen test. While at the time, she was deemed unsatisfactory, actor Charles Laughton saw something in her that others didn’t. Knowing that she could potentially be a powerful actress, Laughton arranged for her to co-star with him in the 1939 Alfred Hitchcock film Jamaica Inn.
That same year, she moved to Hollywood to appear alongside him in a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not long after, she landed a contract with RKO Pictures. From that point onward, O’Hara enjoyed a long and successful acting career – eventually acquiring the nickname ‘the Queen of Technicolor’.
Some of her biggest films were 1947s Miracle on 34th Street, 1950’s Rio Grande, 1952s The Quiet Man, 1963’s McLintock, and 1991s Only the Lonely.
In The Parent Trap, O’Hara played Maggie Mckendrick, Sharon and Susan’s mother.
On October 24, 2015, O’Hara died of natural causes in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95.
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This character actor appeared in nearly 100 films and television shows throughout his six-decade-spanning acting career. He was often cast in comedic and mild-mannered roles.
He was born in LA in 1886, and even though he had trained to be a doctor, he felt drawn to the stage. In 1905, he appeared in a stock production of Nathan Hale. In 1913, he played Private Jo Files in the Frank L. Baum musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz.
In 1914 he appeared in Help Wanted on Broadway. The following year, he landed his first screen role in the silent film Peer Gynt. For the next two decades, Ruggles continued to appear in silent films, although his passion for stage acting remained intact.
After appearing on one of his most famous stage hits, Queen High, in 1926, Ruggles stepped away from stage acting for almost 30 years.
From 1929 on, Ruggles appeared in talkies. His first one was Gentleman of the Press, in which he portrayed an alcoholic newspaper reporter. Throughout the 30s, he appeared in numerous comedies; the best remembered being 1938s Bringing Up Baby.
In the 40s, Ruggles briefly had a radio show on CBS, headlined in the comedy television series The Ruggles, and took the lead role in the sitcom The World of Mr Sweeney.
In 1961, Ruggles returned to the big screen playing Charles McKendrick in The Parent Trap. That same year he had a prominent role in The Pleasure of His Company. For the next decade, Ruggles made numerous appearances on TV shows such as The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, and Wagon Train.
One of the last appearances he made before his death was in the syndicated TV special The Wonder Circus.
Ruggles died of cancer on December 23, 1970, at the age of 84.
Nesbitt was a star of the stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic throughout her seven-decade career. While her primary love was for theater, seeing as how she appeared in over 300 stage productions, the British actress made a name for herself on the big screen as well.
Some of her early film credits included parts in 1938s Pygmalion, 1954s Black Widow, and 1954s Desiree. She shared the screen with Cary Grant in 1957s An Affair to Remember. The following year, she was part of an ensemble cast in the drama film Separate Tables.
One of the most significant roles of her film career was 1961s The Parent Trap, in which she played Louise McKendrick. Then in 1965, she appeared in Promise Her Anything.
Nesbitt’s final film role was in 1980s Never Never Land. Two years later, on August 2, 1982, Nesbitt died of natural causes at 93.
This Kentucky-native actress was best known for her performances in the films 42nd Street and Destry Rides Again. In The Parent Trap, she played the housekeeper Verbena. She died on the 2nd of January, 1986 at the age of 82.
Leo G. Carroll
In a career spanning more than forty years, this English actor appeared in six Hitchcock films, including Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, and Spellbound. He also appeared in three television series, The Man from UNCLE, Going My Way, and Topper.
In the Parent Trap, Carroll played Reverend Dr. Mosby.
Carroll Died of cancer in Hollywood on October 16, 1972.
Born on May 23, 1908 in Boston, Watkins was an actress best known for her roles in The Parent Trap, From Hell it Came, and Good Neighbor Sam. In The Parent Trap, she played Edna Robinson. She died of an undisclosed illness at the age of 68 in 1976.
After Joanna Barnes’s recent death, Hayley Mills remains the last surviving Parent Trap cast member.
In the 1960s, Mills appeared in six Disney movies, including The Parent Trap, That Darn Cat, and Pollyanna. While she found immense success in the industry at an early age, as she grew up, it became increasingly more challenging for her to find her place in Hollywood.
Although she experienced a pretty rough transition from being a child actress to becoming an adult star, Mills was able to keep her acting career afloat, and she’s still active to this day. In addition to being an accomplished actress, Mills is also a published author and a grandmother of four.
From 2007 to 2012, Mills played Caroline Due Plessis in the ITV drama series Wild at Heart. In 2021, she appeared in the film Last Train To Christmas. Her most recent project, a drama series called Compulsion, is expected to premiere later this year. In that series, she plays a main cast member named Connie.
Did you know that Hayley Mills was the last surviving cast member of Disney’s The Parent Trap, or did you think that at least a couple of the stars from this film were still with us? Let us know in the comments.
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