RIP Albert Maysles, Pioneer Documentarian Dead at 88

03/06/2015 06:12 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2015

This is a boom time for Albert Maysles: his iconic Grey Gardens (1975) in a restored print is screening at Film Forum, and available from Criterion. A new documentary, Iris, about style legend Iris Apfel, a hit at the 2014 New York Film Festival will be released in late April. But then again, in the years that I have known him, he was always working. With D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, and his brother David, Maysles was a pioneer in "fly on the wall" or direct cinema. A lover of movies, it is hard to imagine not seeing him on the scene at the premieres of the latest, encouraging young filmmakers. As he said to me in a 1994 interview: "Making a film isn't finding the answer to a question; it's trying to capture life as it is."

In 2008, Steidl/ Kasher published a book detailing some of Albert Maysles work: Little Edie Bouvier Beale vamps on the cover photo of "A Maysles Scrapbook," a coffee table volume with introduction by Martin Scorsese illustrating the depth and breadth of the legendary Albert Maysles' career from 1955 to 2008. Edie is of course one half of the mother-daughter team, related to Jackie Kennedy, celebrated on Broadway and in an HBO movie based on the documentary Grey Gardens by Albert and his brother David who died in 1987. With her signature shmatte tied around her head, her legs oh so posed to reveal the sexy curve of her hip, and beckoning with a come hither look, Edie stands for Albert Maysles himself inviting you into his world, featuring a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of his most famous works, among them "Salesman" and "Gimme Shelter."

Images of Mick Jagger, Muhammed Ali, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Salvador Dali, and Charlotte Zwerin, peek out from these pages, as do pictures of people in Turkey, Russia and Poland from his travels in the late '50's. Maysles' world was a who's who of the 20th century, and into the 21st, as he made films about Christo and the Dalai Lama. About the making of non-fiction films Albert Maysles said, "There's nothing like the real thing."

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