On the NBC soap opera "Passions," the town of Harmony has been shaken to its roots this summer ever since a spell cast by resident witch Tabitha went awry.

As the sorceress's portrayer, Juliet Mills, 63, can attest that such far-out plots are catnip for fans of the campy drama, airing weekdays at 2 p.m.

The Emmy-winning actress is recognized almost everywhere she goes, and not just by fans of that over-the-top character. Older admirers fondly remember her as Phoebe Figalilly on "Nanny and the Professor," a U.S. variation of "Mary Poppins." Despite strong ratings in its early episodes, the 1972 ABC sitcom suffered a disappointingly brief run, partly because network censors were nervous about any hint of sexual combustion between Mills and her on-screen employer, a professor played by Richard Long.

"I literally had to wear a flannel nightgown up to the neck when I took [Long's character] a cup of tea in his room," Mills said. "It was naive in a sweet way, but it kind of stopped us from going on."

As the daughter of Oscar-winning British actor Sir John Mills and his writer wife, Mary Hayley Bell ("Whistle Down the Wind"), and older sister to Disney star Hayley, Juliet Mills said she was very much aware early on that she and her family were living a charmed existence. For starters, her godparents were Noel Coward and Vivien Leigh.

These days, Mills makes her home in Southern California, "just down the road" from the "Passions" set, she said. She and actor Maxwell Caulfield, 45, are marking their silver wedding anniversary this year.

-- John Crook, Zap2it