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Albert Maysles

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( b. Nov 26, 1926 Boston, Massachusetts, USA - d. Mar 05, 2015 New York, New York, USA ) Male
Relations: Brother of David Maysles
Albert Maysles was an award-winning documentarian who, with his brother, David, made intensely talked-about films, including "Grey Gardens" and "Gimme Shelter," with their American version of cinéma vérité.

Mr. Maysles departed from documentary conventions by not interviewing his films' subjects. As he explained in an interview with The New York Times in 1994, "Making a film isn't finding the answer to a question; it's trying to capture life as it is."

That immediacy was a hallmark of the Maysles brothers' films, beginning in the 1960s, when they made several well-regarded documentaries. But it was "Gimme Shelter" (1970), about the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour, that brought them widespread attention. It included a scene of a fan being stabbed to death at the group's concert in Altamont, Calif., and the critical admiration for the film was at least partly countered by concerns that it was exploiting that violence.

Concerns about a different kind of exploitation were expressed about "Grey Gardens" (1975), a double portrait of Edith Bouvier and her daughter, Edith Bouvier Beale, both cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who lived in squalor and with what some saw as mental confusion in a once-grand house in East Hampton, N.Y.

"Grey Gardens" was the basis of a musical of the same title, for which both Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson won Tony Awards in 2007 after it had transferred to Broadway from Playwrights Horizons. A 2009 HBO film version won six Emmy Awards, including those for best television movie and best lead actress (Jessica Lange).

The Maysles brothers' films, whether made for movie theaters or television, were mostly seen on TV, and two won Emmys: "Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic" (1985) and "Soldiers of Music" (1991), about Mstislav Rostropovich's return to Russia. That film was made, with three co-directors, after David Maysles's death of a stroke in 1987. Albert Maysles was also a co-director of Deborah Dickson and Susan Froemke's "Abortion: Desperate Choices," which won a 1992 Emmy.

Mr. Maysles received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in July. His most recent documentary, "Iris" (2014), about the fashionable interior decorator Iris Apfel, was shown at the New York Film Festival in October. And the Tribeca Film Festival recently announced it would screen the world premiere of "In Transit," a film he directed with Nelson Walker, Lynn True, David Usui and Ben Wu, exploring the long-distance train route of the Empire Builder.

As the years passed, Mr. Maysles worked, often with co-directors, on a wide range of subjects, including the Getty Museum, Gypsy music, Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue and poverty in the Mississippi Delta. In 2006 he founded what is now the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem.

Source: The New York Times obituary 


ProductionsDate of Productions
Grey Gardens
[Musical, Drama, Original]
  • Based on the film "Grey Gardens" by Albert Maysles
Nov 02, 2006 - Jul 29, 2007
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