The Disappearance of Lorna Maitland

November 19 is the birthday of Barbara Popejoy, a.k.a Lorna Maitland (b. 1943) a star of the Russ Meyer constellation from 1964 through 1965, with some residual presence in the business the next couple of years.

Raised in Norman, Oklahoma, Popejoy ran away from home at age 16 and lived for a few months in Reno where she performed in a show called The Riverboat Follies. In 1960 she moved on to L.A., singing with aspiring pop groups and dancing in nightclubs until she saw an ad placed by Meyer seeking a star for his new film. Lorna (1964) was his first 35mm feature, with more of a conventional story arc than his previous films (though still plenty outre). It was Meyer who gave Lorna her screen name. She was pregnant at the time, and possessed of Brobdingnagian mammaries, Meyer’s most important criterion in casting. Lorna was a hit for him. Unfortunately, their next film together Mudhoney (1965) was not, and they essentially parted ways, although footage of Maitland dancing in a go-go bar wound up in his 1966 film Mondo Topless. 

By this time (and this hasn’t been a very long time, has it?) she’d been hanging out with rock bands, and had already blown her mind out with acid and other drugs. Texas director Dale Berry used similar footage of her in his films Hot Thrills and Warm Chills, and Hip Hot and 21, both 1967. There are accounts of offers she received around this time, movie and tv deals, but in her drugged out state she was in no position to take advantage of them. She married and had some kids, but was plagued by periodic psychotic episodes. Then came divorce and the life of an itinerant drifter. The last her family had heard of her was circa 1990. There are police records of a woman that may be Lorna committing petty crimes in California as late as 2008. But at this writing it is all a mystery.

The bulk of this post comes from this wonderfully thorough bit of show biz reporting by the Rialto Report. The article is three years old. If I learn more, I’ll update ya.