Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Amazing Mary Millington

Mary Millington (born Mary Ruth Quilter, November 30, 1945 – died August 19, 1979) was one of Britain's most successful porn stars of the 1970s.

Destined to be known as Britain's version of Linda Lovelace, she began her career anonymously, in the 8mm hardcore loops of John Lindsay, the first- and most famous- being Miss Bohrloch which won the “Golden Phallus Award” at the Wet Dream Festival held in November 1970 in Amsterdam. A classic of under the counter British film-making, Miss Bohrloch (its title written on a door) sees Mary playing the title character, a prostitute. She gets a call from two potential customers, one nervously pacing about while his friend negotiates an afternoon romp from a call-box. At the end of the conversation Miss B gives her address as '6 Pop Street', mention of which comes with the unusual visual accompaniment of her firing a Ping Pong ball out of her privates. A party piece that Lindsay seemed especially enamored with, since he employs a reverse film effect to show that ball popping out and back in her several times. Aside from the sex, this was the loop's big talking point. As is the nature of blue movies, the storyline is a minimal in the extreme build-up to a sexual situation, that is not to say these brief scenes aren't without the odd memorable detail, like Miss B's huge phone or the men's feeble mode of transport, a tiny scooter seemingly designed to suit a three year old rather than two grown men. Players they are not. At her apartment in which everything appears bathed in brothel reds, Miss B temporarily leaves the men alone to observe her sex for sale menu. Lindsay's hand-held camera makes everything feel all very fly-on-the-wall as the men frantically type numbers into their pocket calculator, making a bumbling attempt at estimating what the money in their pockets will get them. Intentionally or not everyone seems quite in character, Mary comes across as a completely relaxed hardcore performer, you'd never guess this was her first blue movie gig. She handles with ease the situation of being in a foreign land (the film was shot in Germany away from the eyes of the UK authorities) and being banged away at by two hippy ragamuffins, one a Bill Oddie look-a-like. In contrast the men are slightly edgy, occasionally looking off-camera for direction especially during the sex.

Mary doesn't so much sexually dominate the men, as wipe the floor with them, giving an eye openingly energetic sexual performance that makes you feel exhausted just watching it. The men respond accordingly. It has to be said there are an awful lot of cum shots in the film, to the degree that some have suggested the film was shot over a number of days, personally I’d just like to think Mary had that effect on people. For all of the hundreds or thousands of pieces of pornography John Lindsay shot, arguably he never topped Miss Bohrloch in terms of eroticism or raw sexuality captured on film.

“Blue movies are great” Mary later remarked “educational and great tension-relievers. We all need horny thrills right?”.

Mary starred in around a dozen or so short hardcore films for Lindsay, although tantalizingly only five (Bohrloch, Oral Connection, Betrayed, Oh Nurse and Special Assignment) have so far resurfaced. These were followed by soft core shorts by Russell Gay (Response,1974), Mountain Films (Love Games, 197?) and Harrison Marks (Sex is My Business, circa 1974), plus small roles in British sex comedy films and top shelf magazine modeling. The latter represents the most difficult to document aspect of Mary’s story, with her working for various magazines under a slew of fake names (Nancy Astley, Susan David, Sally Stevens, Janet Green, Samantha Jones, June Taylor, Karen Young, Gillian Cowell) plus occasionally parts of her real name “Mary” and “Ruth”. If any significant discoveries are yet to emerge from her career, it will be from this period.

Mary was also prolific on the amateur photography scene, having been one of many young models on the books of Strobe Studios, a company run by former glamour model June Palmer. Strobe’s business evolved around amateur photographers, like the late Fred Grierson, hiring studio space and one of June’s models in order to try their hand at taking glamour shots at Strobe. A successful set up that June had been running since the early 1960s. Mary also advertised her services as a “sexciting young professional model” in the pages of sex magazine Vibrations (Issue no.10, vol 3), offering punters the chance to take photos of her at her own home “anything goes as long as its legal”. The ad also mentions she’d be willing to make house calls or meet up at hotels for prearranged glamour shoots. Evidentially Vibrations publishers took note of the ad as well, and hired Mary for shoots themselves, eventually installing her as Vibrations’ nominal letters editor under her “Sally Stevens” moniker.

Response (a.k.a. Go Down My Lovely), is an unusual film from Russell Gay, the owner of Knave magazine and a glamour photographer and filmmaker (for the 8mm market) since the late 50’s. Most of Gay’s 1970s sex loops are frankly dreadful, with workmanlike direction and not quite hardcore sex. With Response however Gay creates a dreamy, sexy little film that benefits greatly from Mary’s bi-sexuality. Mary plays a bored office clerk dreaming about sex with female co-worker Zoe. Zoe in turn is dreaming about making love to Mary, as a diversionary thought whilst her boyfriend bangs away at her in bed. It soon becomes blurred as to who is meant to be fantasying about who, or whether Mary and Zoe’s lovemaking is fantasy at all. The lesbian centerpiece to the film, though, is tender and romantic with relaxed performances from Mary and the actress playing Zoe, a far cry from the embarrassing spectacle lesbian sex can sometimes be in films made by men. The depiction of lesbianism as preferable to the animalistic, one sided affair the film portrays straight sex as (in the scene between Zoe and her boyfriend) is also a sly touch for a film aimed at a male audience, and an interesting counterpoint to the semen drenched, heterosexually focused Miss Bohrloch.

According to porn actor “Short Jack Gold”, Harrison Marks’ Sex is My Business was shot late on a Saturday night at a sex shop, located on London’s Coventry Street. The storyline here concerns a powerful aphrodisiac being dropped by a customer, whose potency renders the shops’ staff and customers sex crazy. Mary, dressed in a short see-through dress, is the films main focus of attention, playing a member of staff who drags a customer into the back room for some multi-position sex, thoughtfully turning on the shops CCTV camera so others can watch. After being sold on 8mm in the mid-seventies, Sex is My Business seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth and was considered something of a ‘lost’ film until a Super 8mm print of the film was located and privately transferred to DVD in 2008, probably the most significant discovery, Millington wise, of the last few years. The film subsequently made its internet debut on the 26th of July 2008 at the (now defunct) site ZDD Visual Explosion.

Mary became well-known thanks to her appearances in millionaire David Sullivan's porn magazines and films, having been introduced to him by her Sex is My Business co-star Maureen O’Malley in February 1975. Obscure no more, her rise to fame was astronomical, she gained further notoriety for her starring role in Sullivan's 1977 sex comedy Come Play with Me. This was followed by roles in The Playbirds (1978), in which the obscene publications squad hating Mary was ironically cast as a policewoman (“I hate policemen. Their truncheons are always bigger than their cocks” she once remarked) , as well as Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979) and Queen of the Blues (1979). According to the Daily Express she’d been set to appear in a stage farce called “Love’s a Luxury” shortly before her death. Millington's final film appearance was in ‘The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle’, Malcolm McLaren’s “Carry on Punk” version of the Sex Pistols story, which was released theatrically in March 1980. However, neither she nor her punk rock co-star Sid Vicious lived to see the completion of the movie.

In 1978 she had been attached to appear in a hardcore porn film called 'Love is Beautiful', to have been directed by Gerard Damiano. Yet, despite Millington and Damiano being pictured together at that year's Cannes Film Festival, the movie (meant to have been produced by David Grant’s Oppidan Films) never materialized.

Potential co-stars may have included Harry Reems, and fellow British sex stars Lisa Taylor and lisping lovely Gloria Brittain. All that remains of the film is the Cannes photo with Damiano surrounded by his would be female stars. A poorly composed picture with the diminutive Millington positioned at the back and barely visible.

A film Mary did shoot scenes for, but were never used in the released version, was Erotic Fantasies (1978) an Italian/UK co-production officially directed by Derek Ford and Luigi Batzella (as Paul Selway), although Mary’s never to be seen scenes as a circus ringmaster were actually shot by Ray Selfe. Peter Mason, a friend of Selfe, remembers Selfe shot the footage in “multi camera TV style on video, in those days it would have been mastered onto 2inch tape which is (now) an obsolete format. He said it was a one day job that he got because the original Director couldn't handle a studio and the finished product was destined for "the German market." I think it would have been soft core. Ray had a coffee with MM at a nearby cafe but said he didn't really know who she was until after her death”.

In the late seventies Mary also had a lesser known career sideline working as a make-up artist on 8mm hardcore loops for the Tabu company. A cast member of Tabu’s loop “Kamera Club”, remembered being surprised at how odd it was to see someone as well known as Mary working as part of the Tabu crew and making up the cast members. Given that Mary was already rich and famous by this point, we can only speculate that either she was there as a favour to someone at the Tabu company or that she saw a possible future for herself as a make-up artist after leaving the limelight. The Kamera Club cast member remembers that Mary was very aware that due to her age the curtain was slowly coming down on her time as a porn model.

Not that Mary was done with courting controversy. Undoubtedly one of Mary’s most scandalous moments, and there were many, was being photographed topless outside of 10 Downing Street. In which Mary, while posing for an innocuous picture with a policeman outside Number Ten, decided to unzip her top, exposing her breasts for the photograph, much to the surprise of Whitehouse photographer George Richardson (who took the picture anyway) and the policeman in question (who tried to confiscate the reel of film). Also along for the same photo shoot was fellow Come Play With Me actress Suzy Mandel, while Suzy was round the corner when the incident took place, she still remembers stumbling upon the aftermath. According to Simon Sheridan’s biography of Millington “For this stunt Mary was conditionally discharged and bound over to keep the peace”. Mary’s film Come Play With Me still stands as one of the longest-running films in British movie history, and ran continuously at the Moulin Cinema in London's West End from 1977 to 1981, perhaps the ultimate testimony to her popularity. In a publicity stunt for the second year anniversary of the film’s opening, both Suzy Mandel and Mary posed in lingerie on the Moulin cinema’s marquee.


Mary Millington committed suicide at the age of 33, at her home in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, using a deliberate overdose of paracetamol, anafranil and alcohol. A sleep cure. Her life had begun a downward spiral into drug use, kleptomania and depression following continual police raids on her sex shops. She left several suicide notes which were found near her body.

She was buried at the St Mary Magdalene Church, Betchetts Green Road, South Holmwood, Surrey. Her tombstone is situated at the rear of the churchyard and bears the surname "Maxted" – her married name. She is buried in the same grave as her mother, Joan Quilter, who died in 1976. “She was beautiful” Suzy Mandel recalled on the phone to me recently “and it was extraordinarily sad what happened to her”


A posthumous exploitation film about her life was released in London in October 1980, called ''Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions''. In 1996 Channel Four television screened a tribute to her entitled ''Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story''. Twenty years after her death, the writer and film historian Simon Sheridan put Mary's life into context in his critically acclaimed biography ''Come Play with Me: The Life and Films of Mary Millington''. Further information about her career can be found in Sheridan's follow-up book ''Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema'', the third edition of which was published in April 2007.

In 2004 Millington’s historic importance was recognized by her inclusion into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Colin Matthew and Brian Harrison. Her entry was written by Richard Davenport-Hines. 2008 saw a London exhibition of the work of the late glamour photographer Fred Grierson, which included several little-seen pictures of Mary taken by Grierson at June Palmers’ Strobe Studios in the early 1970s. (For more on the Grierson archive and Mary see their site, and here for one of their early photos of her.)

Mary in her own words

Mary’s biography “The Amazing Mary Millington”, co-written by Mary and her former probation officer David Weldon was published in 1979 (and reprinted as an A4 size magazine in the 1980s by David Sullivan). Mary’s life in her own words sounds an enticing prospect, but approaching the book today comes with the knowledge that it contains more than its fair share of tall tales and fabrications about her life. As the book also had its eye on the titillation market there are also lots of (made up sounding) sex anecdotes, reminiscent of Mary’s many ghost written articles in David Sullivan’s magazines, that are presumably the work of co-author Weldon whose later novelisation of The Playbirds was penned in a similar style. Mary doesn’t hold back her views against censorship and for the legalization of pornography, in fact its one of the book’s main themes, and something she comes back to constantly in the text, over and over. To the degree that later chapters of her book feel like impassioned plea for freedom of expression and a more liberal attitude to sex and pornography first and an autobiography second. She even re-writes her life story at one point, claiming the John Lindsay hardcore loops she made were shot after she became famous, and as a political protest at the strict UK censorship laws. The obscenity laws, the police and the hypocritical nature of those in power, are clearly subjects that plagued her while she wrote the book, while in earlier chapters she displays polite distain for the likes of Mary Whitehouse (“I respect her right to say what she likes… but what I didn’t like was the way she tried to ram her opinions down everyone else’s throats”) by the books end things take a more angry turn, with Mary militantly signing off the book with “demand the right! demand the right to choose for yourself” and including a lengthy report by the national campaign for the reform of the obscene publications act as an appendix. While its often hard to shift through what is fact and what is fiction at times, included here are several passages where Mary speaks about her career and subjects close to her heart, and where the text seems at its most honest and believable.


“In many ways my childhood was both very sad and very happy. I didn’t want for love and affection but a great many other things were missing. Most children can find some sort of escape at school. I couldn’t. I hated it, and they hated me. I tried to hide myself at the back of the class, and day dreamed about being a princess and that someone would arrive at any moment to rescue me from this hell. Mum often tried to console me with the fact that I had the same birthday as Winston Churchill and that he was a bit of a dunce, one day I might become as famous as him, and every time I was beaten, or told what a useless individual I was, or what an illiterate idiot I was, I would think about Winston Churchill and vow that I would become famous one day, that would show them.”

Meeting John Lindsay

“we were having coffee (and) he suggested that I pose for him in his studio. At first I thought he was just shooting me a line but he showed me his press card and seemed to be very genuine about his proposal. I asked him what sort of pose he had in mind, and he replied, as if you couldn’t guess- ‘in the nude’. I was a little doubtful about it, not for any moral or prudish reasons, but at 4‘11 I thought I was too small to be a model. He said he thought my personality would more than make up for my lack of inches.
I was a little nervous but he was very reassuring and soon I was able to relax and become my natural self. I found that I enjoyed being the centre of attraction and loved the fact that the camera was pointed at me. Like all good serious photographers he was in love with his camera and only his camera, to him I think I was just a lump of meat. In some ways the camera seemed to fulfill my craving for affection and I came to realize I was treating the camera as my lover and the fact that more and more people wanted to point one at me, made me feel very wanted”

Miss Bohrloch

“I’m not saying the film was good but the last I heard it had sold over 300,000 copies, which is some sort of world record where blue films are concerned. If you ever get the chance to see it, then do, you won’t be disappointed. Charlie (Brown- the owner of the Tabu company that released many of John Lindsay’s films in Germany) also paid me a very nice compliment. He said that if there was such a thing as an Oscar for blue films then I should get it for my performance in that film. I could just imagine it. The Oscar ceremony in Hollywood, Steve McQueen or Paul Newman standing on the stage. The lights flashing, the spotlights blasting down, and the crowds cheering. Steve introducing a clip from my film then presenting me with the Oscar for the years best oral sex performances”.


“It may be going against convention to enjoy making love to a member of your own sex; I personally get turned on by a couple of good looking gay guys. I know straight men are repulsed but as long as the partners concerned are agreeable, so long as they do no harm to anyone, then I see nothing odd in it.
It is true even in this day of so-called permissiveness that homosexuals may not freely consort, meet or form new associations with each other without…. threat hanging over them. It is quite common in 1979 to see notices in male public toilets forbidding importuning. In effect the Wolfenden Report and the law following it is followed, officially at least, to the letter- you can do it if you’re old enough. But, it must be behind closed doors. I despair at the laws in this country.”

Come Play With Me

“There were some really beautiful girls in it. I enjoy working in films, the people in the business are fascinating but oh, those hours. I’m nocturnal and to be on a set at 6am is like the middle of the night for me. When the reviews appeared I was shocked when I found that not one single critic had liked the film, one of them said it was the worse British sex comedy that he had ever seen.
Even now when I’m supposed to be a personality or infamous, depending on your point of view. I still make a great deal of personal appearances. I meet as many fans as possible, and most days I visit a sex shop which I help run in Tooting, South London, and talk to the customers and find out what they like, or dislike, about my work. I really do like people and reckon I’m the most “approachable” model and film star in the business. If it wasn’t for the man on the street I wouldn’t be where I am now and I’ll never forget that fact. I feel a great obligation to them, and I feel very privileged when they travel for miles just to see me in the shop.”

The Playbirds

“David Sullivan sent me a film script. He had commissioned it with me in mind, he asked me to read it as quickly as possible as he wanted to start shooting right away. The part was that of a policewoman, and I just loved the irony in the casting, although I’ve never seen a 4‘11 policewoman.
There are black magic scenes, sex scenes, party scenes, a very good ‘chase’ scene, in fact everything that goes to make up a first class modern day thriller.”

Sex, Censorship and Pornography

“It is time the whole obscene publications act was rewritten so that everyone knows where they stand. Publishers do not wish to break the law any more than anyone else, but until that particular law is redefined then publishers have to stagger on from day to day not knowing if what they have published is obscene or not in the eyes of the law, we entered the common market but censorship which is virtually abolished there did not come along with the butter subsidy.
Surely this clamp down on girlie magazines goes against the whole basic freedom of speech and choice that we hold so dear in this country. Democracy had to be fought for in this country over the years, and it was not an easy fight. Demand that you be treated like an adult. Perhaps we can make porn legal and then, a few years afterwards, the novelty will have worn off, the sales of porn will go down, and we can get on with more important things.
I’ve always thought that the paranoia in this country about sex is a class thing, just as much as public schools and comprehensives are. The old story of those in authority saying they know what is best for the rest of us while doing the opposite themselves, and using the excuse that the “working classes” aren’t educated enough to be able to chose for themselves. I think this is a grave insult to the man in the street. At election times we are supposed to be able to pick our way through complicated political issues before casting our vote; but when it comes to reading matter we are treated like children.
I treat sex as something to be enjoyed, something to be savored, something to cling to, something to be indulged in whenever possible. The old slogan of ‘Make Love Not War’ was a very good one. This love of sex may be a throwback to my childhood days when I craved for love and affection, I just don’t know. But even if it is, so what? Self-analysis won’t change anything now.”

Theres Something About Mary.

Gavcrimson on Mary:
Absurd as it may first sound I’ve always considered Mary something of the Elvis of British sex film actresses, in the sense that her headlining film career came about due to her being famous for “other things”, and you get the feeling she was thrown in the deep end acting wise by Svengali type figures who had a crafty eye on mass media. Just as Elvis in films, tends to come across merely as Elvis dressed as a Cowboy or Elvis dressed as a Jail Bird, due to poorly written characters and a lack of acting training, so too Mary in Come Play With Me and The Playbirds is always Mary dressed as a nurse or Mary dressed as a policewoman. She described herself, as “the world’s worst actress, I’d be quite happy to win such as award”, but she is clearly trying hard, especially in The Playbirds, and has an appealing personality which clearly won her fans over (if not the critics) and kept them coming back. Something that compares her favorably to the “special guest stars” that inevitably surround her in these films, people who possessed the acting talent she thrived for, but ironically are just content to go through the motions.
Of course if Mary wasn’t the best actress in the world, then that is maybe because she didn’t have the best acting coach in the world in John M East. Despite his claims to have appeared in numerous films, TV and theatre, its hard to think of him in anything outside of the roles he got in her films. What little else of his career that occasionally crops up tends to consist of extra level work in Please Sir and On the Buses, you can sometimes spot him in the background of the latter, cracking smiles at Reg Varney’s jokes and mouthing non-conversations to other extras, on a good day he might get half a line of dialogue…. on a good day. His lengthier roles in her films, hardly convince that he had the qualifications for being an actor let alone anyone’s dialogue coach. Ironically in her last Sullivan films, Queen of the Blues and Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair, she shows quite an improvement as an actress, with confident line readings replacing the obvious nervousness of the earlier films. What a waste then that, despite being the “star” of those films, she is actually given little to do, and the films squander whatever talent she may have acquired by that point by instead focusing on the far less appealing personalities of John M East and Alan Lake respectively.

One of the first “sex” films I ever saw was Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions, in the early 1990s, re-titled The Naked Truth. This was a few years before Simon Sheridan’s excellent, authoritive biography of her, so I was essentially walking blind into the Mary legacy and probably taking too much at face value. Approached like that however, the film made for sombre, emotional viewing with Mary portrayed as a loving and lovable person, selfless whether it be in her support for her dying mother, helping charities or providing lonely men with a fantasy figure, as well as someone whose sexual frankness and anti-censorship views put her at odds with the authorities, who hounded her and (the film implies) drove her to suicide. Granted that is a somewhat simplistic interpretation of her life, with any guilt East should have felt over her death conveniently whitewashed, but that tends to be True Blue Confessions’ take on events. The sight of her adopted dogs alone in her house who “still pine for their mistress”, was faked by East, they’re not even her real dogs for fucks sake, but naively taken at face value, made for a truly heartbreaking moment.

Despite knowing little of John M East’s evil machinations, even on first viewing the film did however strike me as more than a little tasteless as times. East’s narration often carries all the inappropriate feel of a funeral eulogy written in the style of Max Miller monologue “she didn’t have much upstairs, but what a lovely staircase”. Faith Daykin, who plays “Young Mary” in the film’s soft core recreations of her life looks so unlike Mary that the first time I saw the film I had no idea she was meant to be Mary, and couldn’t figure out what these scenes had to do with the proceedings. Actually even if you do realize she is playing Mary, its debatable what these scenes have to do with anything, ditto the “Heaven” disco footage.

Today the film tends to be discredited, but its dubious motivation didn’t go unnoticed at the time of its release either, with even Harrison Marks, despite being desensitized from years of heavy drinking and shooting hardcore, waking up from a drunken slumber to call the film “not a bit sick, very sick”. While subsequent documentation of Mary’s life, C4’s Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story from 1996 and Simon Sheridan’s biography are far worthier and piss all over True Blue Confessions in terms of accuracy and honesty, John M East’s ramshackle little film was what first got me interested in her life, and British sex films in general, for that I give kudos.

Speculation can at best be pointless and at worst dangerous, but what Millington fan hasn’t wondered where her career would have taken her had she not died. What would the eighties have held for Mary Millington? Fiona Richmond’s subsequent career offers possible hints, with Fiona cashing in her racy reputation for celebrity status appearing as a panelist on the likes of Celebrity Squares and Blankety Blank. Fiona was also clever in sending her old sex symbol self up, receiving good comedy parts in the Comic Strip productions in the process. Of course to compare Mary to Fiona is to overlook their differences, Fiona was a much more experienced actress with a stage farce background even before she appeared in films (and you could argue that being “Fiona Richmond” was itself an act), still Mary’s role in The Great Rock and Roll Swindle does hint at a self-parodying, second career in comedy and willingness to the kind of ironic casting that could have seen her follow Fiona into the world of the Comic Strip, where alternative comedians rubbed shoulders with 70s showbiz veterans like Nosher Powell, Koo Stark and former Crossroads cast members. Its easy to picture Mary in that bizarre world. Ultimately though, we’re posing answers to a question that can’t be answered, we’ll never really know what she would have achieved. Instead Mary’s pictures now have a Dorian Gray quality to them, she’ll never age or grow older. The 1970s Mary is the only Mary we're fated to know. She’d actually be in her sixties now, but as hard as I try, I just can’t imagine Miss Bohrloch picking up her free bus pass.

Allfornothing33 on Mary:

Mary Millington 1945-1979 beautiful inside and out, always loved, sadly missed never forgotten. I mean every word of it.. remember without Mary at that juncture in time in the 1970s and afterwards toward the end of her own short life at aged just 33 'we' would not have been able to watch x rated film view what we wanted to see or have our freedom as we have today, indeed the 'nanny state’ would still be telling us what we could read see and say. Mary suffered, oh how she suffered and for what.
Born Mary Ruth Quilter Nov 30th 1945 at the end of the second world war to a middle class family, her mother worked for the foreign office and her father was a biographer, she was illegitimate. Her father had a role in her younger life but disappeared out of her life as she grew older. Mary had an ordinary schooling, was reported as very mischievous. She left school to attend Reigate art school but could not manage the work so she left to start work as a veterinary nurse but again she was unable to do the necessary studying, as she said many years later in her book 'The Amazing Mary Millington' [1979] she was never academic. However she had a wonderful charisma and charmed all that met her. Mary married at aged 18yrs to Bob Maxted and was to stay married throughout her short life.

She was given her big chance in life when she was offered a job in a boutique as the manageress, all the time doing part time modeling nude, glamour and porn. It was whilst she was employed at the boutique she began to love the trappings of fame and vowed one day to be in the public eye.. It was one chance adventure that gave her the break she needed. One day whilst out on her lunch break in a coffee shop she met Scottish photographer John Lindsay [he of hard core fame], it was not long before she stumbled into film and progressed to doing hardcore particularly for Lindsay mostly abroad, under various pseudonyms. He loved Mary and introduced her to Porn Magnate David Sullivan [who is owner of Playbirds/Whitehouse empire] He too loved Mary, they had a relationship even though Mary was married [as events turned out there was much ambivalence between Mary's husband and Sullivan even though Mary tried to keep both the relationship and the two men apart] Sullivan promoted and made Mary big in film and although she could not [by her own admission] sing or act, she was to progress to great things and become Millington [she had always been known as Maxted before meeting Sullivan].

Sullivan invented the name Millington to augment her career in the mags and said she was the sister of the then Whitehouse editor Doreen Millington [utter rubbish] but all the same it helped sell his mags. Mary became renowned as a model and actress star of Sullivans cinema release Come Play With Me [1977] the Brit comedy that outsold any sex/comedy of its era. She starred in many other films pre and post Sullivan’s relationship with her, notably Queen of the Blues The Playbirds etc but none of them [although they were in fact successful] were to equal the success and fame of 'Come Play With Me'. Mary was a star of countless porn mags a fervent supporter of civil rights and firmly against the Obscene Publications law that she found was outdated and draconian. She supported both animal and cancer charities. Her mother whom she doted on was suffering cancer throughout the early 70s when Mary was modelling etc.. herself to pay for her care [a rare thing in those days as not many people had the money]. She adored animals more so than humans and was involved with the Peoples Dispensary for sick animals [PDSA]. it is rumoured that Mary had a relationship, a 'one night stand' with the then prime minister Harold Wilson, this has [as far as I know] never been denied by the British authorities. She also had 'relations' with the then Shah of Persia [Iran] for mega money and also some very notable and eminent figures.. Her fame and the fact the authorities felt challenged by Mary, indeed to police and government she was a constant embarrassment, they chased her time and time again trying to set her up. They sent letters and bills to her threatening imprisonment. The tax man was chasing her for £1,000,000 and the police were after her, she had a pressing appointment in the Old Bailey court on obscenity charges. Also her husband had asked her for a divorce. Probably because of the constant pressure she developed major insecurities and had become hooked on cocaine and was a kleptomaniac often stealing things [not always valuable objects] but anything that she thought she wanted. [Note it is now thought by agony aunts psychologists etc.. who have dissected Mary's life that she stole things because she had a need to feel wanted and loved]. She began to despair with British Government and their measures to suppress her lifestyle, thought her life was a mess, feared the impending court case as she did not want to go to prison.

She was hounded by the police who raided her shops with impunity the second they knew she was out of the area. They hit her hard in the pocket and prevented her advancing/promoting her mags by destroying them. She was a liberated person with a relaxed view of censorship, she had a sexual openness and ideals that were not in keeping with the times. She strove for the legalisation of pornography, less stringent laws and better civil liberties, however the British Government was just too big for her. She had, had enough on the night of the 19th August 1979 she rang John M East [her publicist] asked him to sing the song he always sang to her, ending in 'tomorrow', she said 'there will be no tomorrow John', the phone went dead. In the morning her husband found her dead in her bedroom she had taken analgesics. anti depressant capsules alcohol and passed away in her sleep. RIP Mary Maxted [the name on her gravestone] her married name, buried South Holmwood, Surrey above her beloved mother. Mary Millington the biggest box office draw of the 70s rich and famous [but never media mainstream because she was not right for her time] has according to the reverend of St Mary Magdalene church the smallest gravestone in the cemetery Mindful of this and considering that she was the biggest star of the 1970s and could presumably afford the very best, why did she not have a splendid grave stone?. The truth is I honestly do not know!! I believe Mary would have indeed one day [had she lived] become mainstream, she had the strength and charisma to mix in all societies and was a truly wonderful person. She was seen at charity events etc. with the likes of Arthur Askey [the one time comedian] and other well known people supporting her charities and furthering their causes. It is I suppose worth notice that Mary 28 years on from all her battles where she was harangued persecuted and so willfully hurt by those in authority whom it has been proven had double standards by that I mean out of the public eye used her, bought her mags etc... the one and the same people police magistrates etc.. were then prosecuting her for her actions and beliefs in the Old Bailey courts. I believe it was always at the back of Mary's mind to expose these people as hypocrites indeed she had experienced that some of the same people who upheld the law also bought her magazines. Mary was hounded and for what, look what porn is freely available today!. The films of Mary Millington are seen as nothing more than 'glorified nude Benny Hill sketches' despite at one time what David Sullivan maintained, indeed a good percentage of Mary's 'fellow actresses' in her films starred in Benny Hills sketches three I know of were 'Hills Angels'. Abandoned in death by those that sought to gain from displaying her as a macabre show the contemptible way that they displayed her in order to get what they wanted, that includes the late John M East her manager and publicist who Mary seemed to worship in life. Shame on him and the many others who did the same. Mary Ruth Maxted RIP with your beloved mother. The grave stone is inscribed simply 'REUNITED'


* Miss Bohrloch (short 1970)
* Oh, Nurse! (short 1971)
* Oral Connection (short 1971)
* Betrayed (short 197?)
* Special Assignment (John Lindsay short 197?)
* Secrets of a Door to Door Salesman (1973, scenes cut)
* Response aka Go Down, My Lovely (short 1974)
* Sex is My Business (aka Sex Shop) (short 1974)
* Love Games (short, Mountain Films, 197?)
* Eskimo Nell (1974)
* Erotic Inferno (1975)
* I'm Not Feeling Myself Tonight (1975)

* Private Pleasures (1975) (shot in Sweden)
* Keep It Up Downstairs (1976)
* Intimate Games (1976)
* Come Play with Me (1977)
* Whats Up Superdoc (1978)
* The Playbirds (1978)
* Probito Erotico aka Erotic Fantasies (1978) ringmaster (scenes cut)
*Kamera Club a.k.a. Camera club (8mm Tabu short: make-up artist/non acting)
* Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979)
* Queen of the Blues (1979)
* The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (posthumous 1980)
* Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions (posthumous 1980)
* Mary Millington's World Striptease Extravaganza (posthumous 1982)
* Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story (TV documentary 1996)

Special thanks to Suzy Mandel, Peter Mason and AFN33 for their help with this article.


afn33 said...

What can I say the beautiful Mary Millington given the GavCrimson treatment a great review and a new slant on things, yes I agree with your synopsis, and you always argue your points so well.I think your storyline is superb work.I think Mary would be proud of you..It is my pleasure to be of help to you.

afn33 said...

Mary Mary Mary I will say this Gav you have produced a well thought out, well argued and critically analysed piece, the best I have ever seen in any book newspaper or magazine[and you will know how well read on Mary I am]..You are a credit to Mary,I just wish she was alive to see your work..Mary a life cut short and gone forever, always loved sadly missed never forgotten .. afn33

Dave said...
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