While still in college, Alley Mills scored a small role in the film Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970). She got her first role on a television series—a short-lived sitcom about young lawyers entitled The Associates—in 1979. Mills played Leslie Dunn, a recent law school graduate who wanted to help those in need. After another failed sitcom in 1982, she finally caught a big break with the role of Norma, the main character's mother, in the 1960s-based family dramedy, The Wonder Years. The critically acclaimed program won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1988 for its first season on the air and continued to enjoy strong fan support for several seasons.
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