Mary Millington: The British Porn Icon And Activist Everyone Should Know About

She helped pave the way to a sexual revolution

Mary in a promotional poster for 'Come Play With Me.' Image Tigon David Sullivan

Mary Millington died on 19th August 1979. She’d taken an overdose of paracetamol with a bottle of vodka at her mansion in Walton-on-the-Hill in Surrey. While waiting for the deadly concoction to take hold, she wrote four suicide notes – each one reflecting her fall from grace as one of the most famous adult stars Britain had ever seen.

Mary was only 33-years-old when she took her own life – too young to consider it not worth living, even though she’d lived a significant amount of it by then. Her rise and fall occurred within a jam-packed decade of censorship – a time when The Obscene Publications Act 1959 was in full swing, Lady Chatterley’s Lover had been on trial and films like Deep Throat were ‘non grata’ in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1945 and raised by a single mother who worked for the foreign office, Mary married young and started off life in Dorking. According to the Netflix documentary by Simon Sheridan, Respectable – The Mary Millington Story, she and her husband, Robert Maxted had an open relationship, one rife with swinging and sexual experimentation. During this time, her mother became gravely ill, and Mary was forced to find work to pay for her medical bills.

 

David Sullivan
Mary on the set of "Come Play With Me." Image David Sullivan

     

It was then that she discovered glamour modeling in the late sixties, this led to a meeting with the renowned pornographer, Scotsman John Lindsay. Through this association she began her stratospheric rise in the world of porn.

 

Playbirds Magazine Image David Sullivan

 

Lindsay put her in a bunch of his short adult films or ‘loops,’ the first being Miss Bohrloch in 1970. The plot summary was pretty standard per IMDb,

“Two young guys pay to have sex with a prostitute. After enjoying themselves, the men realize they cannot afford to pay her service charge, and Mary makes them wash her dishes instead!”

Millington was always confident in her 4”11 frame and was so well proportioned and blessed with tantalising girl-next-door looks that Lindsay allowed her to star in over 20 of these films.

 

David Sullivan
Come Play With Me Image David Sullivan

 

“From being a kid, I have always been something of an exhibitionist, point a camera at me and I was posing madly…with my clothes on, of course, it was later when I started to take them off.” She quotes in an excerpt taken from Queen of the Blues: Mary Millington’s Confessions.

Her popularity began reaching astronomical heights during the seventies; she appeared in countless soft-core and hardcore blue films. After meeting and forming a relationship with leading-edge, adult magazine publisher David Sullivan in 1974 she was featured on numerous covers of titles like Whitehouse, Playbirds, Ladybirds, and Private.

 

Mary Millington Image Simon Sheridan

 

She also worked as an escort, allegedly coupling with heads of state and royalty.

In the later years of her life, she opened two sex shops in London which were subjected to many raids by police. Despite these intrusions, she found time to star in the soft-core comedy film Come Play With Me which became a massive success and one of the longest running films in British history. It showed at the Moulin Cinema in London from 1977 – 1981. 

After her mother’s death in 1976, Mary became clinically depressed, and other long-withheld mental issues began surfacing. Her once admirable sexual bravado started to fade. Kleptomania and drug use overtook her life, and she retreated from the limelight.

Before her death, she was due to appear in court on a shoplifting charge, though she believed the police would use any excuse to put her behind bars – blaming such aggression on her fierce support of the legalisation of pornography in Britain.

 

David Sullivan

 

“The police have framed me yet again. They frighten me so much. I can’t face the thought of prison.” She wrote in one of her suicide notes.

Her estranged husband found her on that August morning; she’d left behind a career that still had tremendous potential and a legacy that would inspire countless others to liberate themselves from the shackles of censorship.

Finally, in 2000, hardcore pornography was legalised in Britain and Mary’s films were available to be enjoyed without prohibition. She got her wish, although posthumously.

An article by the The Daily Express last year reported a fitting finale to Mary’s story. On the site of what was once the Moulin Cinema in Soho, London – a blue plaque was debuted to commemorate her most well-known film, Come Play With Me. A fitting tribute to the Lady of the Blues.

 

Simon Sheridan Image YouTube Simon Sheridan

 

Be sure to check out Simon Sheridan’s film Respectable: The Mary Millington Story on Netflix which delves further into the life of this porn pioneer.

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Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.