This Saturday night, the power trio of “Knots Landing” — Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills — will be appearing at the Hollywood Museum to celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary and unveil a new lobby tribute with costumes worn by the series’ stars.
Mills, 79, can hardly believe it’s been four decades since she graced the small screen as vixenish villainess Abby Cunningham, telling Page Six that it feels it “was maybe ten years ago!”
The blond beauty — who got her start in soaps and then became a fixture on ’70s shows, with appearances on “Six Million Dollar Man,” “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “CHiPs” — became an instant star when she snagged the role of scheming Abby Cunningham in the “Dallas” spinoff.
The Chicago native says that before she was cast on the nighttime soap, she suffered through many instances of sexual harassment.
“Everything from a casting session in New York where you would walk in and you hadn’t seen the script and you open the script and it’s the bed scene,” she explained. “And you’re like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute.’ There were lots of those things.”
Mills says it was never stated out loud in the industry that if you slept with someone, you got the role — but it was implied.
“You tried to get out the door before they got you,” she says. “And in those days you didn’t tell anybody, you just didn’t. You just got out of whatever situation you got out of, because I was never going to sleep with anybody for any role.
“I always believed you never got a role by sleeping with somebody. That was a falsehood. They would say that and then it would never happen. So I just figured that was not the way to go. But back then you just chalked it up to experience and you moved on.”
Mills, who says she heard about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged behavior years ago and steered clear of him, remembers fleeing late legendary cartoonist Al Capp’s office when she says he tried to sleep with her.
“I was one of the girls that went up there thinking it was a casting session and then it wasn’t,” the “Play Misty For Me” star says. “I remember running out of that apartment, running down the street sobbing, mad at myself because I had gone there. He was famous for it, I didn’t know that at the time. I found out afterwards.”
(Goldie Hawn and Grace Kelly both made the same claims against the “Lil’ Abner” creator).
The never-married star (“I was too independent) admits that aging is more difficult for a woman whose looks were celebrated.
“There are certain things that happen to your skin that you just can’t help,” she confesses. “I stay thin, I stay fit, all the things but there are just certain things you can’t overcome and yeah sometimes it’s like, ‘Ah, s–t.’
“Because I look at clips from ‘Knots’ or old pictures or whatever and I didn’t think of it at the time but [now] I go, ‘Wow, I really was pretty good-looking,’ and I didn’t think that at the time. There was always something wrong that I didn’t like. Now I look back and I go, ‘Damn! I really looked good.’ I wished I still looked it. But it goes. It’s hard to accept but you have to.”
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