I was just thinking tonight about an amazing character I knew years ago. In 1972, I moved to Mission Viejo and began a surgical practice at Mission Hospital, now known as Mission Medical Center. When I arrived in December of 1972, I met an internist who had an amazing career and personal history. He was born in Holland and during World War II was supposedly a fighter pilot in the Dutch Air Force in what is now Indonesia. At the time it was the Dutch East Indies. He was also a physician at the time and was chief of staff at the hospital in Indonesia where another physician friend, Sergei Lockareff was born.
Maynard practiced as a physician in Santa Monica and was the personal physician for a number of movie stars, including Humphrey Bogart, Greer Garson and Carole Landis.
Life seemed very good indeed. But Bogie came home one day and told me that he’d run into an old co-star, Greer Garson.
Over lunch, she’d announced that she didn’t like the sound of his cough, and dragged him to see her doctor, Maynard Brandsma, at the Beverly Hills Clinic.
I was so used to Bogie’s cough that I never paid too much attention. He’d been off his food a little, but that wasn’t unusual. I should have realised at once that the mere fact that he’d consented to go with Greer to a doctor was indicative of something serious. Any time I’d ever mentioned a doctor to him, Bogie bristled.
Maynard discovered Bogart’s esophageal cancer and cared for him during that illness. Another physician friend, Burt Meyer, was the surgeon who operated on Bogart and who later said that the cancer was so small that he would never operate on another. If he couldn’t cure that one, there was none he could cure. Burt operated on John Wayne for his lung cancer with better luck.
Maynard was the physician who examined and treated the wife of David Niven for her fatal head injury, suffered when she fell down a flight of stairs in the dark at a Hollywood party.
When I came to Mission, Maynard had been there for several years. He had moved to Mission Viejo after marrying his second wife Mickie. He was active in practice and was kind of intimidating to a new surgeon. By that time, he was 65 years old but still very active. I remember that he tried to get me to join the Coto de Caza gun club, which was abruptly closed by the developer in 1991. At the time that Maynard was a member there was good quail shooting there but I couldn’t afford it.
He was quite the character. One night his telephone did not answer and the hospital asked the sheriffs to go to his house and let him know it was pout of order and they were trying to reach him. They knocked on his door at 3 AM and he came to the door with a .45 automatic held behind his back. Things were far less tense with the police in those days and they thought nothing of it.
The hospital was quite small at the time and Maynard was seeking a second career and life with his new wife. His career at St John’s Hospital in Santa Monica was spectacular in that he had been chief of staff and had a Hollywood practice, as well. One of his patients was John Ford and he made the diagnosis of Ford’s colon cancer that ultimately killed him.
Maynard was a good physician and continued to practice for a number of years after my arrival. Eventually, he and Mickie moved away and they are buried in Montana. He was a very colorful character and I remember him fondly.