One of the most unusual partnerships of the sex film era was undoubtedly Mary’s friendship with the ubiquitous Milton Rutherford ‘Gaylord’ Reid. Born in India in 1917, the eldest child of a Mongolian mother and Scottish father, Reid was always a big lad. When his family relocated to the UK he became a wrestler, under the name ‘The Mighty Chang’, touring circuses and theatres across the country. He eventually broke into movies in the mid-1940s, often in non-speaking roles. Reid’s barrel-like physique, shaved head and piercing eyes immediately typecast him as bodyguards, doormen, executioners, wrestlers, mulattos, gladiators, pirates, henchmen and assorted ‘heavies’. Over the next three decades Reid clocked up over 50 movie appearances – many uncredited – in productions as diverse as Swiss Family Robinson (1960), Dr No (1962), Berserk (1967) and Carry On Henry (1971). However, his fearsome exterior belied a much more sensitive side. Reid was a caring, old school gentleman, whose strict protestant upbringing often made him shy of women, and unable to free himself from his uncompromising looks. In 1970, his vital statistics were listed as: 5’11” tall, 52” chest, 42” waist, 20” collar and size ten shoes.
Reid first met Mary on the set of Come Play with Me in October 1976. The two performers instantly recognised a certain vulnerability in each other, and they soon became inseparable. Although married, Reid admitted that he had strong feelings for Mary, but their friendship never progressed any further than just holding hands. On 7 July 1977 the couple attended the West End première of The Spy Who Loved Me (the third of three James Bond movies Reid appeared in) and were photographed by the press. The occasion was not a happy one for Reid, however. Incredibly, he was barred entry from the film as the actor had forgotten to bring his VIP tickets.
During the 1970s, Reid lived in Shepherds Bush and was often seen driving his blue convertible Metro-Nash sports car, with leopard skin seat covers, around west London, with Mary in the passenger seat. Through Mary’s connections, Reid soon became ensconced in the world of sex films. He featured in a further three Millington movies, but ultimately porn was to be his undoing. In 1979 he enjoyed non-sexual cameos in two hardcore loops shot for Color Climax directed by George Harrison Marks – Schoolgirl Holiday and Arabian Knights. He also had a more ‘hands-on’ role in a softcore Harrison Marks short called Bustman’s Holiday, alongside Nicky Stanton. The Sunday People ran an exposé on Reid’s involvement in the sex industry, and he was subsequently ostracised by the movie community. ‘I was harmed as I did a lot of charity work,’ he said bitterly. Reid was left devastated by Mary’s suicide in 1979 and thereafter made only one further appearance on film, as ‘The Beast’ in spooky BBC2 series West Country Tales.
After his British acting career dried up, Reid took himself off to India in 1981 and revisited the place of his birth. Sadly, nobody really knows what happened to him, although his desire to break into Bollywood movies never came to anything. The circumstances of Reid’s death are unclear, although Britain’s most soft-hearted, gentleman ‘thug’ probably died of a heart attack, alone, in Bangalore around 1987.
All words © Simon Sheridan 2012-2015