Posted: November 24th, 2019
Former Daily Mirror photographer CYRIL MAITLAND has died in Ashland, South Oregon. He had lived in the States for many years. He died on August 16  just before his 91st birthday. Former Sunday People legend PLAIN JOHN SMITH said: “Old Mirror hands like myself will remember Cyril as a brilliant if somewhat eccentric snapper and I shared many on-the-road adventures with him both in the UK and the USA. I am sure many will remember him from his Mirror days when he was a great favourite of picture editor Simon Klein.”
AMP chairman DEBORAH THOMAS remembers: “Cyril Maitland and I went chasing John Lennon back in the seventies, when he did a bunk to LA, leaving Yoko in New York. I was staying on holiday with a friend in Malibu when I heard Lennon being interviewed on the local radio station. I rang Cyril, whom I had never met but was our Mirror photographer in LA. We screeched round to the little radio station where we met a very excited radio DJ who couldn’t believe his luck when Lennon dropped by out of the blue but we were too late. John had gone. So we went to drown our sorrows at a piano bar that was Cyril’s second home. I remember his girlfriend playing piano and laughing a lot and I remember Cyril teaching me to drink Tequila Sunrises. I remember the incongruity of his Scottish burr in that hot place and the surprising taste of salt in my mouth. I don’t remember anything after that. Cyril must have poured me into a car and got me home somehow. Lovely guy. They don’t make them like that any more.”
The following edited piece is by freelance writer John Darling from the local Mail Tribune, a 7-day a week daily newspaper covering Oregon and northern California.
Lucie Scheuer is a widow now, and her Ashland home is bedecked with scores of pictures taken by her husband, famed celebrity photographer Cyril Maitland.
For Maitland, a working-class Scottish boy trying to survive the Nazi bombing of Clyde shipyards in World War II, the world changed when his parents gave him a Kodak box camera. He set up a darkroom, fell in love with black-and-white photography and soon was making money shooting for the Scottish Daily Mail, then the London Daily Mirror. He caught his big break with a 1965 photo of Winston Churchill’s funeral procession as it passed a giant poster of the WWII prime minister that seemed to gaze down with historic solemnity on his own body.
Cyril’s love of black-and-white photography never left him, and he went on to a brilliant career capturing great moments of movie stars, royalty, the Beatles and other rock-and-roll legends of the ’60s and ’70s, boxer Muhammad Ali, President Richard Nixon with the first returning moon astronauts, and historic events such as the thalidomide trial, and the Guyana cult of Jim Jones just before its tragic mass suicide.
“Cyril said he couldn’t wait to get out of there [Jonestown]. He said you could feel something terrible was going to happen, but no one would listen. It was his pictures that got Congressman (Leo) Ryan to go there to investigate.” Ryan and his staff were killed in the mass murder-suicide there in 1978.
Scheuer tells of meeting Maitland in the 1980s when they lived in Hollywood, and she, the daughter of a Los Angeles Times film critic, was a nightclub singer. “We started out as friends in this funky little nightclub called Theodore’s. He’d come in and buy me Courvoisier. It was a love we grew into. We were very immature. We liked to say we grew up together.” They married in 1993.
His celebrity shots were widely published in newspapers, magazines and on TV. In Hollywood, says Scheuer, he snapped Fred Astaire, Sean Connery, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Jack Lemon, Julie Andrews, Sammy Davis Jr, Jane Seymour, Roger Moore, Jack Lemmon, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford, Ed Asner, Shirley McLaine, Sam Shepard, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Julie Harris, Princess Margaret and others.
Maitland sold pics of immortal singer Judy Garland in a recording studio with bandages over slash marks on her wrist, quite apparent as she emoted in song. Infuriated, she tried but failed to halt their publication, says Scheuer.
In the world of music, he captured the big singers and rock groups of the day: The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Chad & Jeremy, the Monkees, Peter & Gordon, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock, Della Reese, Sarah Vaughan, Michael Jackson — and a famous pic of the forlorn John Lennon in 1974 Los Angeles, about to give up his drunken ways and return to wife, Yoko. Maitland and Lennon were close, she notes, and Lennon called Cyril “Scotty”. Scheuer holds a curious shot of George Harrison checking in for an acupuncture session, back when few knew what it was. Not many people can say they have an unpublished shot of an immortal Beatle, but Scheuer says: “This one has never been published.”
Alcohol and drugs were de rigueur on shoots with stars and rockers back in the roaring ’60s and ’70s, she notes. Beach Boy Brian Wilson even told Maitland he wouldn’t allow photographs unless the previously unstoned Maitland toked a doobie [smoked a joint] first. He did, says Scheuer. But Mr and Mrs Maitland finally chose the clean and sober path in 1983. “Before that, he drank with everyone he photographed,” she says.
The couple retired to Ashland in 1998 where Maitland became a noted local landscape artist. After Maitland died, Scheuer posted a coloured slide of him, the consummate artist of black-and-white images, on Facebook, to let the world know. As she hit the “post” button, she says, it strangely turned to black-and-white, “an appropriate, beautiful ending, a period [full point] at the end of the sentence”. Scheuer plans a celebration of Maitland’s life in the spring.
You can reach John Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org
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