A tragic tale must be told. Although Mary was seen in several of the later ToCo publications, she came to fame through her work in the pornography business in the 1970s. But with it, came unhappiness – and she took her own life at the age of 33.
She was born Mary Ruth Quilter to unmarried parents, for which she was teased and bullied at her Dorking school, leaving her with low self-esteem throughout her childhood and adolescence. Her mother tried to console her by telling her that she had the same birthday as Winston Churchill, and that, one day, she might be as famous as him. She wasn’t far from the mark. Though Winston would never have been able to claim, as Mary did, that he had “been bisexual since the age of 14”.
When she was 19, she married a local lad, butcher Robert Maxted, and, before long, found herself nursing her sick mother, a time-consuming duty that was to last for a period of ten years. She almost blundered into life as a glamour and porn model, and occasional high-class prostitute, which allowed her to pay for professional care for her mother. Among her alleged clients was the Shah of Persia.
She worked with several photographers, including Harrison Marks, and appeared in just about every girlie mag on the shelves under at least ten names, including her married name of Mary Maxted, with her lovely though bottle-blonde hair. In August 1975, she did a photo shoot for ToCo (Span 252) using her legal name and printed with the photo editor’s blurb stating, accurately (for once?) that she was from Surrey and worked “with an escort agency” – for which see “prostitute” comment above. However, a love affair with porn magnate David Sullivan changed everything. He persuaded her to change her name and, as Mary Millington, she went on to make countless porn movies. But it was her 1976 role as a nurse in Come Play with Me (written by Marks himself) that made her a huge star – it ran for a record-breaking four years at the same cinema and she became the most profitable name at the British box office. When she turned 33, she found herself being replaced by younger models in Sullivan’s magazines and spent more time in the sex shop she had opened, a shop that was raided countless times by the police whom she accused of threats and demanding protection money.
After her mother died, Mary went into a deep depression that resulted in kleptomania and drug abuse. After being arrested for the second time for shoplifting, and being told by the police that it was highly like she would be given a custodial sentence – that is, sent to prison – she took a lethal cocktail of antidepressants, paracetamol and alcohol, leaving four suicide notes. In one, she wrote, “the police have framed me yet again. They frighten me so much. I can’t face the thought of prison.”
Personal details - Born November 30 1945 at Kenton, London; died August 19 1979 Walton-on-the-Hill. 4ft 11in (1.50m)
Appearances - 6, debut Span235 (March 1974) as Sally Barnes
Span - 235, 252
Beautiful Britons - 118, 238, 247
Spick & Span Extra - 56