Widely regarded as one of the most extreme -- and yet triumphant -- casting coups on the seminal period comedy drama The Wonder Years (1988-1993), actress Alley Mills was reportedly regarded for years as a complete counterculture figure (a self-described "hippie") and yet secured a role on Years as Kevin Arnold's (Fred Savage) bleached-blonde, prim-and-proper mother, Norma. Mills not only managed to convince and persuade in the part, but did much to help recall the vicissitudes of an unforgettable time in American history -- a dowdy suburban matriarch amid the flower-power era. Born in Chicago in 1951, Mills launched her career in television, appearing in such long-form features as A Matter of Life and Death (1981) and The Atlanta Child Murders (1985). She took her feature bow in 1983 as the romantic lead of John Candy in David Steinberg's second-rate comedy Going Berserk. The Wonder Years represented Mills's breakthrough; after it wrapped, she landed occasional guest parts on such series as NYPD Blue and Roseanne, and appeared infrequently in telemovies, such as Joyce Chopra's 1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan. Off-camera, Mills made headlines when the never-before-married actress wed legendary Hollywood actor Orson Bean, 23 years her senior, not long after Years concluded.