Albert Maysles, ‘Grey Gardens’ Filmmaker, Dead at 88

Documentary director’s work with brother David Maysles also included “Gimme Shelter”

Last Updated: March 6, 2015 @ 11:41 AM

Albert Maysles, the documentary filmmaker who, with his brother David Maysles, was responsible for films including “Grey Gardens” and “Gimme Shelter,” died Thursday night at his home in New York City following a battle with cancer, his family said Friday. He was 88.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, following a brief battle with cancer. Albert was a loving husband, father, brother as well as a friend to many. For more than five decades,” his family said in a statement. “Albert created groundbreaking films, inspired filmmakers and touched all those with his humanity, presence and his belief in the power of love. He was also a teacher, mentor and a source of inspiration for countless filmmakers, artists and everyday people.”

Masyles documentary center executive producer Erika Dilday echoed the family’s sentiments, noting, “While we mourn the loss of Albert, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as inspiration to people around the world to be willing to push themselves creatively and take the time to observe and reflect on life as it unfolds.”

Maysles’ career as a filmmaker began after teaching psychology at Boston University for three years. After visiting Russia to photograph a mental hospital, he filmed his first documentary, 1955’s “Psychiatry in Russia.”

His partnership with brother David yielded numerous works over the span of multiple decades, including 1964’s “What’s Happening! The Beatles in the USA” and the 1970 documentary “Gimme Shelter,” which chronicled the tail end of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour of the United states. That tour included the tragic free concert at California’s Altamont Speedway, a violent event that was marked by the stabbing death of attendee Meredith Hunter.

Another notable entry for the Maysles brothers arrived in 1975 in the form of “Grey Gardens,” about the prickly relationship between a mother-daughter pair of reclusive socialites, both named Edith Beale, who lived in a dilapidated mansion in East Hampton. A cult classic, the film spawned a musical and later an HBO film starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Albert and David were portrayed by Arye Gross and Louis Ferreira (under the name Justin Louis) in the film, respectively.

David Maysles died after suffering a stroke in 1987. He was 55. Following David’s death, Albert would continue to make films, including “Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton,” for which he received the Sundance Film Festival 2001 Cinematography Award for Documentaries.

In 2014, Maysles received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

During his long career, Maysles also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Peabody Awards and three Emmys, among other accolades.