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Albert Maysles

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Also Known As: Al Maysles, Albert H. Maysles Died:
Born: November 26, 1926 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Profession: director, producer, documentarian, cameraman, director of photography, salesman, professor of psychology

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Alongside his brother David, Albert Maysles became one of the chief exponents of the cinema verité school of documentary filmmaking. After starting his documentary career with films about mental health in Russia and student revolt in Poland, the Maysles brothers joined forces with Richard Leacock, Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker to make a series of films, most notably "Primary" (1960), which followed the Democratic primaries between John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey in Wisconsin, and revolutionized the way documentaries are made. Turning to music, he directed "What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA" (1964) and later made the controversial Rolling Stones film, "Gimme Shelter" (1970), which documented the band's headlining performance at the violence-plagued Altamont Free Concert and captured the fatal stabbing of a concertgoer. In the following decade, the Maysles courted more controversy with "Grey Gardens" (1976), a disturbing look at co-dependency between a mother and daughter that was later turned into a Broadway musical and an Emmy-winning HBO film. Following the death of brother David in 1987, Maysles earned an Oscar nomination for "LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton" (2001) while making cable...

Alongside his brother David, Albert Maysles became one of the chief exponents of the cinema verité school of documentary filmmaking. After starting his documentary career with films about mental health in Russia and student revolt in Poland, the Maysles brothers joined forces with Richard Leacock, Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker to make a series of films, most notably "Primary" (1960), which followed the Democratic primaries between John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey in Wisconsin, and revolutionized the way documentaries are made. Turning to music, he directed "What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA" (1964) and later made the controversial Rolling Stones film, "Gimme Shelter" (1970), which documented the band's headlining performance at the violence-plagued Altamont Free Concert and captured the fatal stabbing of a concertgoer. In the following decade, the Maysles courted more controversy with "Grey Gardens" (1976), a disturbing look at co-dependency between a mother and daughter that was later turned into a Broadway musical and an Emmy-winning HBO film. Following the death of brother David in 1987, Maysles earned an Oscar nomination for "LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton" (2001) while making cable films covering everything from abortion and hospice care to Paul McCartney's 9/11 benefit concert in New York City, solidifying his status as one of documentary filmmaking's most celebrated pioneers.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Gates, The (2008)
5.
  Umbrellas (1993) Director
6.
  Christo in Paris (1990) Director
7.
  Islands (1987) Director
9.
  Running Fence (1978) Director
10.
  Grey Gardens (1976) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Wild Blue Yonder (2008)
2.
3.
4.
 Tell Them Who You Are (2004) Cast
6.
7.
 Wild Ride of Outlaw Bikers, The (1999) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Brookline, Massachusetts
:
At age seven, purchased first still camera
:
Worked as salesman
:
During WWII, served with Army tank corps; after discharge enrolled in college
1952:
Taught psychology at Boston University
1955:
Went to USSR to study mental health care; began making films
1955:
First film (made solo), "Psychiatry in Russia"; aired on WGBH the public television station in Boston
1957:
First film made with brother David, "Youth of Poland"
1959:
Co-shot D.A. Pennebaker's "Opening in Moscow"
:
With Pennebaker, Richard Leacock and David Maysles, became member of Drew Associates (founded by Robert Drew)
1960:
Co-directed an examination of the Democratic campaign for president "Primary"
:
Formed Maysles Films, Inc.
1962:
First Maysles Brothers collaboration with Charlotte Zwerin, "Showman"; also first Maysles Films Inc. production
1964:
Helmed the documentary short "What's Happening! The Beatles in America"; never released theatrically; aired instead on CBS with narration by Carol Burnett
1964:
Photographed Godard's segment ("Montparnasse et Levallois") of omnibus feature, "Paris vu par/Six in Paris"
1969:
Co-directed with brother and Charlotte Zwerin, "Salesman" a portrait of bible sellers in Boston; withheld from audiences for 25 years; finally aired on PBS' "POV" in 1994
1970:
Garnered widespread acclaim for "Gimme Shelter" chronicling the Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour
1973:
Shared Academy Award nomination for "Christo's Valley Curtain"; also first of several film collaborations with the artist Christo
1974:
Worked as cinematographer on Leon Gast's documentary "When We Were Kings" about the Muhammed Ali and George Forman 'Rumble in the Jungle'; film not released until 1996
:
In early 1980s, worked on film profiles of musicians Seiji Ozawa and Vladimir Horowitz; earned Emmy Award for "Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic"
1990:
Last feature collaboration with brother David, "Christo in Paris"; released three years after David's death
1992:
Co-directed (also produced) the award-winning HBO documentary "Abortion: Desperate Choices"
1994:
Filmed "Conversations With the Rolling Stones" (broadcast on VH-1)
1996:
Produced, shot and co-directed the award-winning HBO documentary "Letting Go: A Hospice Journey"
1997:
Co-directed with Susan Froemke and Bob Eisenhardt the documentary "Concert of Wills: Making the Getty Center"
2001:
With Froemke and Deborah Dickson, filmed "LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton"; premiered at Sundance before airing on HBO
2001:
Profiled directors Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Robert Duvall and Jane Campion in the TV specials "With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles" (PBS)
2005:
Founded the Maysles Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides training and apprenticeships to underprivileged individuals
2007:
With Antonio Ferrera, documented a site-specific art installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, "The Gates" in NYC
2008:
Joined Martin Scorsese to directed "Shine a Light"; the film documented two 2006 performances that took place during rock and roll band The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang tour
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Brookline High School: Brookline , Massachusetts -
Syracuse University: Syracuse , New York -
Boston University: Boston , Massachusetts - 1953

Notes

"People sense--from the way you handle the camera, even the way you introduce yourself--if you're going to intrude on them or hurt them. They sense when you are really paying attention. To attend means to wait. That perfectly describes what we do." --Albert Maysles quoted in THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 13, 1994

"As a child, I didn't speak. It wasn't a deformity. I was just extremely quiet. No one knew if I was broght or dumb, so I had to repeat kindergarten. But my personality made me an avid listener, which served me well." --Albert Mayseles quoted in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, January 1998

"We couldn't have made all of those films without each other. There was no sibling rivalry because we weren't in competitive roles. We worked as a filming team, with me behind the camera. David also took control of postproduction, and we both found stories and made decisions. But above all, we held ourselves subservient to our subjects and the quality of our films." --Maysles in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, January 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gilian Walker. Married on September 14, 1976.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Ethel Maysles. Schoolteacher. Died c. 1974.
father:
Philip Maysles. Postal clerk. Russian-Jewish immigrant.
sister:
Barbara Maysles. Artist. Older.
brother:
David Maysles. Filmmaker. Younger; born in 1932; died of a stroke in 1987.
daughter:
Rebekah Maysles.
son:
Philip Maysles.
daughter:
Sara Maysles.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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