Jimmy McDonough once described the notorious, yet mysterious Lorna Maitland as being, "a trashy melon-breasted blonde, one who'd look good in the back of the a pickup in a torn dress"; one page later he described her as having "a terminally unimpressed scowl that seemed to suggest your balls were not long for this world". Given such a description, it's little wonder that Russ-"King Leer"-Meyer cast this corn-fed foxy lady in the first of his black and white Gothic films, 1964's Lorna.
Born Barbara Popejoy on 19 November, 1943 in Glendale California, she wasn't christened "Lorna Maitland" until twenty years later by her discoverer. According to some biographers, Maitland grew up in Norman Oklahoma, but by the time she answered the cattle-call for Meyer, Lorna was working as a dancer in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite thousands of hits on Google for her name, few other biographical details are known. Several sources have mentioned but fail to cover Maitland's romantic involvement with Ben "Dino" Rocco, musician and one time member of an early incarnation of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, known then as Psyrcle. Reports conflict as to whether Maitland and Rocco were actually married or just "practically married", but Rocco himself stated at least once that the two spent seventeen years together.
After starring in the then ground-breakingly visceral Lorna, the twenty year-old Maitland went on to a major role in Meyer's next film Mudhoney (1965). Another black and white Southern-Gothic "roughie", Mudhoney is a Meyer classic being critically acclaimed while featuring topless, buxom blondes. Following her two major roles for Meyer, Lorna Maitland had appearances in Mondo Topless (1966), Hip, Hot and 21 (1967) and Hot Thrills and Warm Chills (1967). Given the extensive coverage she received in Fling magazine in 1967, it must have seemed that her career was poised to take off. Once rivaling the prolific and by then, already established Angie Dickinson for the same contract, it seems all stranger that Lorna Maitland's current whereabouts are completely unknown.
Though her career as a sexploitation star was brief and she never achieved mainstream acting success, Lorna certainly made her mark on 60s-cult-culture. Before finally sliding off into the unknown, Maitland used some of the money she earned during the 60s to fund the Autumn Records subsidiary Lorna Records. The label recorded "Baby Don't Do That" for the aforementioned Psyrcle. While she may be remembered by most for her bodacious bust-line, Maitland left another legacy: eternally disturbing auteur and weirdo, Russ Meyer.
Described as "intimidating" and known for sometimes terrorizing his casts during filming, Meyer couldn't have been a character that was easily shaken. Yet, over twenty years after working with her, Meyer was still telling interviewers "Lorna did a number on my head". Convinced that "she hated (his) guts", Meyer rarely had anything nice to say about his two-time leading lady. In a 1980 interview he mused to the UCLA Daily Bruin that "her tits must be down to her knees by now".
What accounts for such ire for so long? Some might chalk it up to the King of the Nudies being something of a grudge holder who was easily crossed. Others hint that perhaps Meyer unconsciously found Maitland a bit intimidating; standing at 5'9, she was one of the few truly Amazonian of his stacked-starlets. Perhaps his film's tagline was spot on and Lorna really was "too much for one man!", too much for even one Russ Meyer.
Want more Maitland?
Video and Images:
- Clip from Lorna (NSFW)
- Trailer for Mudhoney (NSFW)
- Lorna Maitland Tribute site, featuring several black and white photos (NSFW)
-Throughly researched, and fast-paced read Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film; Jimmy McDonough,(2006)
-The incredibly detailed Russ Meyer-The Life and Films: ; David K. Frasier, (1990)
-The two-part article in contemporary lad-mag Fling, vol. 10 no.1/2 3-5/67, author is uncredited but it may have been Arv Miller