Millie Mason is a budding actress with dreams of becoming a star. It seems she’s on her way to fame when she gets spotted by an agent, Eddie Tanner. Unfortunately every role she gets cast in she ends up in a costume, mask or in the shadows, so nobody sees what she looks like. Her agent also thinks keeping the mystery of what she looks like will make her an even bigger star, with a big reveal. Millie finally gets sick of being unknown and threatens to quit if she can’t appear as herself., for her next interview. Eddie agrees and Millie is delighted. Only on the day of the big reveal she ends up getting mumps and is all bandaged up anyway!
Firstly, yes that is Dennis the Menace on the cover. Of course Mandy and Beano were both published by D.C. Thomson, it was quite common for the comics the reference another comic, sometimes characters would even be seen reading the comic they were part of! ! In this instance Millie’s first job is appearing as Dennis the Menace for a grand opening.
Millie then gets her big TV break, doing a series of commercials. As Jane the Germ Killer, she gets interviews and fame and when her contract is finished in a year there will be a big reveal of who she is. Apperently Jane the Germ Killer is a big hit. I know some advertisements have been a staring path for big careers (like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio) but I don’t remember them getting TV interviews for just staring in the ad! Then during a public appearance as Jane, Millie is kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to publicly unmask her if they don’t get paid. At first Millie is scared but she also thinks of the benefits i.e. that people will finally know who she is! She is disappointed to find out it is all a big publicity stunt by the agency. Apparently they didn’t tell her about the stunt because they wanted her reactions to be realistic. Which is bad enough but once they got her to the safe house, that may have been a good time to explain everything. But no, instead they tie her up and leave her wondering what is going to happen until some nice agency guy decides to turn up later. It just makes an unethical situation even worse
Even Millie sees how terribly wrong this is and wants out. She lets them know they can’t sue her for breaking her contract without her letting everyone know about the publicity stunt. The agency agrees but only on the condition that she never reveals she played the character. They are going to replace her with another actress and pretend she was always the one. Yep thats showbiz for you!
So Millie’s back to square one, and she can’t even use her television experience on her resume. She does gets another chance when she stars in a TV mini series. Unfortunetely her face is hidden in shadows. This trend of masks and shadows continues, until she decides she has had enough and quits. Eddie convinces her to come back to the business after he gets his writer friend to write a script based on the idea of “The Girl with a Thousand Faces”. Using a similar idea to the Jane the germ killer ad campaign, they are also going to build up the idea of the mystery girl but this time he promises she will get her big reveal at the end.
Really I couldn’t see this concept work today, people would track down Millie Mason no bother, on IMDB/Wikipedia or some social networking site. Actually I find it difficult to believe even in pre-web/social networking days, that not one reporter didn’t track her down! Eventually Millie gets her big moment to finally show her face….only to end up in hospital with the mumps.
This story has some unrealistic setups, particularly the kidnapping plot, but the story isn’t one to take it too seriously either. Millie could have come off as a very unlikeable character, a girl that seems to be in the acting business not for the roles but to become famous. Yes she does come across a fame hungry at times but as its played mostly for laughs, she isn’t a terrible character. You don’t wish for her downfall. You sympathise with her frustration, but can also see the humour in the situation. The big joke of all this build up only for her to be covered in bandages for her unveiling, is played with a kind of; roll of the eyes “typical” rather than as a devastating blow.