From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Born||Edward Davis Wood, Jr.
October 10, 1924
Poughkeepsie, New York
|Died||December 10, 1978
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Occupation||Screenwriter, film director, film producer, actor, author, and editor|
|Spouse(s)||Norma McCarty (m. 1955–1956)
Kathleen O'Hara (m. 1959–1978)
|Children||Kathleen Emily Wood|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1942–46|
World War II:
Edward Davis "Ed" Wood, Jr. (October 10, 1924 – December 10, 1978) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, actor, author, and film editor.
In the 1950s, Wood made a number of low-budget science-fiction, horror, and cowboy genre films, intercutting stock footage. In the 1960s and 1970s, he made sexploitation movies and wrote over 80 pulp crime, horror, and sex novels. In 1980 he was posthumously awarded a Golden Turkey Award as Worst Director of All Time, renewing public interest in his work Wood's unsuccessful career and camp approach has earned him and his films a cult following.
Following the publication of Rudolph Grey's biography Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992), Wood's life and work have undergone a public rehabilitation of sorts, leading up to director Tim Burton's biopic of Wood's life, Ed Wood (1994), a critically acclaimed film which earned two Academy Awards.
Early years 
Wood's father, Edward Sr., worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a custodian, and his family relocated numerous times around the United States. Eventually, they settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, where Ed Wood, Jr., was born. During his childhood, Wood was interested in the performing arts and pulp fiction. He collected comics and pulp magazines, and adored movies, most notably Westerns and anything involving the occult. He would often skip school in favor of watching pictures at the local movie theater, where stills from the day's movie would often be thrown in the trash by theater staff, allowing Wood to salvage them to add to his extensive collection.
In 1936, Wood received his first movie camera, a Kodak "Cine Special," on his 12th birthday. One of his first pieces of footage, and one that imbued him with pride, was the airship Hindenburg passing over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, shortly before its famous fiery demise at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
One of Wood's first paid jobs was as a cinema usher, and he also sang and played drums in a band. He later fronted a singing quartet called "Eddie Wood's Little Splinters", having learned to play a variety of string instruments.
Military service 
In 1942, Wood enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, just months after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Assigned to the 6th and 7th Defense Battalions, he reached the rank of Corporal before he was discharged. He was involved in the Battle of Tarawa, among others, and during the war, he lost his two front teeth to a Japanese soldier's rifle butt and was shot several times in the leg by a machine gunner. Wood usually wore a women's bra and panties under his uniform throughout his years of service.
In 1946, Wood was discharged from the military and joined a carnival. His several missing teeth and disfigured leg (wounds suffered while in combat) combined with personal fetishes and acting skills made him a perfect candidate for the freak show. Wood played, among others, the geek and the bearded lady. As the bearded lady, he donned women's clothing and created his own prosthetic breasts by inflating his nipples with air. Carnivals would be frequently depicted in Wood's works, most notably the semi-autobiographical novel, Killer in Drag.
In 1947, Wood moved to Hollywood, California. He wrote scripts and directed television pilots, commercials, and several forgotten micro-budget westerns with names such as Crossroads of Laredo and Crossroad Avenger: The Legend of the Tucson Kid.
In 1948, Wood wrote, produced, directed, and starred in Casual Company, a play from his unpublished novel which was based on his service in the United States Marine Corps. It opened at the Village Playhouse to negative reviews on October 25.
In 1952, Wood was introduced to actor Bela Lugosi by friend and fellow writer-producer Alex Gordon, Ed's roommate at the time, who went on to help create American International Pictures. Contrary to the Tim Burton film's events, Wood did not meet Lugosi in a coffin store, nor was Lugosi ever known to use foul language when referring to rival actor Boris Karloff.
Lugosi's son, Bela Lugosi, Jr., has been among those who felt Wood exploited the senior Lugosi's stardom, taking advantage of the fading actor when he could not refuse any work, while most documents and interviews with other Wood associates in Nightmare of Ecstasy suggest that Wood and Lugosi were genuine friends and that Wood helped Lugosi through the worst days of his depression and addiction. Lugosi had become dependent on painkillers as a way of controlling his debilitating sciatica over the years.
Glen or Glenda 
In 1953, Wood wrote and directed the exploitative semi-documentary, Glen or Glenda (originally titled I Changed My Sex), with producer George Weiss, which starred Wood (under the alias "Daniel Davis"), his girlfriend Dolores Fuller, and Lugosi as a god-like narrator. The film was loosely based on transsexual Christine Jorgensen.
Jail Bait 
In 1954, Wood directed and produced a crime film, Jail Bait (originally titled The Hidden Face), along with co-writer Alex Gordon, which starred Lyle Talbot and Steve Reeves. Bela Lugosi was supposed to play the lead role of the plastic surgeon, but was busy when filming started and had to bow out.
Bride of the Monster 
In 1955, Wood produced and directed the horror film, Bride of the Monster (originally titled Bride of the Atom), based on an original story idea by Alex Gordon which he entitled The Atomic Monster., which starred Bela Lugosi, Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson, and Loretta King.
While making Bride of the Monster, Wood married Norma McCarty, his first wife, who kicked him out of their house only four months later because she couldn't stomach his cross-dressing fetish. McCarty had a son, Michael ("Mac"), from a relationship prior to Wood.[better source needed] Following the making of this film, Lugosi turned himself in to the state hospital for treatment for his drug addiction.
Plan 9 from Outer Space 
In 1956, Wood produced, wrote and directed the science-fiction film, Plan 9 from Outer Space (originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space), which starred Lugosi (in his final film), Tor Johnson, Vampira (Maila Nurmi), Tom Mason (who doubled for Lugosi in several scenes), and Criswell as the narrator. The film was premiered at a small screening in 1957, and was only released theatrically in 1959. In 1961, it was sold to late night television, greatly expanding its audience.
The Violent Years 
Night of the Ghouls 
In 1958, Wood wrote, produced, and directed Night of the Ghouls (originally titled Revenge of the Dead), starring Tor Johnson, Criswell, Valda Hansen and Kenne Duncan. The film was only released (marginally) in March 1959, and then promptly vanished from sight for nearly three decades, when it was resurrected on home video.
The Sinister Urge 
In 1960, Wood wrote and directed the exploitation film The Sinister Urge (originally titled Racket Queen), starring Kenne Duncan, Duke Moore, and Carl Anthony. Filmed in five days, this is the last mainstream film Wood directed, although it has grindhouse elements. Ironically, his career would soon spiral downward into a blur of "smut racket" nudie flicks, softcore pornography, and end with X-rated novels and films. The scenes of teenagers at a pizza place were shot in 1956 for the unfinished juvenile-delinquency film Rock and Roll Hell (a.k.a. Hellborn). This includes a fight scene performed by Ed Wood himself (uncredited) and Conrad Brooks.
Orgy of the Dead 
In 1963, Wood wrote the screenplay for Shotgun Wedding, an exploitation film about hillbillies marrying child brides, and Wood's transitional film, once again combining two genres, horror and grindhouse skin-flick, was 1965's Orgy of the Dead, originally titled Nudie Ghoulies. Wood handled various production details while Stephen C. Apostolof directed under the pseudonym A.C. Stephen. The film begins with a re-creation of the opening scene from the then unreleased Night of the Ghouls. Criswell, wearing one of Lugosi's old capes, rises from his coffin to deliver an introduction taken almost word-for-word from the previous film. Set in a misty graveyard, the Lord of the Dead (Criswell) and his sexy consort, the Black Ghoul (a Vampira lookalike), preside over a series of macabre performances by topless dancers from beyond the grave (recruited by Wood from local strip clubs). Together, Wood and Apostolof went on to make a string of sexploitation flicks up to 1977. Wood co-wrote the screenplays and occasionally acted. Venus Flytrap (1970), a US/Japan horror film, was based on an unproduced Wood screenplay from the 1950s.
Authored books and novels 
Beginning in the early 1960s, Wood wrote at least 80 lurid crime and sex novels in addition to hundreds of short stories and non-fiction pieces for magazines. Titles include Black Lace Drag (1963) (reissued in 1965 as Killer in Drag), Orgy of the Dead (1965), Devil Girls (1967), Death of a Transvestite (1967), The Sexecutives (1968), The Photographer (1969), Take It Out in Trade (1970), The Only House in Town (1970), with Uschi Digard, Necromania (1971), The Undergraduate (1972), A Study of Fetishes and Fantasies (1973), and Fugitive Girls (1974). (In Nightmare of Ecstasy, Maila Nurmi declined Wood's offer to do a nude scene sitting up in a coffin for Necromania.)
In 1965, Wood wrote the quasi-memoir, Hollywood Rat Race (published in 1998). In it, Wood advises new writers to "just keep on writing. Even if your story gets worse, you'll get better", and also recounts tales of dubious authenticity, such as how he and Bela Lugosi entered the world of nightclub cabaret.
In a December 2010 published article at Mondo Film & Video Guide, indie print publisher Feral House, who in the last few years had re-printed dozens of Wood's novels, ended sales on all Wood titles when Wood's estate requested a cease and desist due to uncertainty about whether Wood wrote all the novels published under his name or not.
Later years and death 
In 1969, Wood appeared in Love Feast (also known as Pretty Models All in a Row), the first of two films produced by a Marine buddy, Joseph F. Robertson, portraying a photographer using his position to engage in sexual antics with models. He had a smaller role in Robertson's second film, Mrs. Stone's Thing, as a transvestite who spends his time at a party trying on lingerie in a bedroom.
In the 1970s, Wood worked with friend Stephen C. Apostolof, usually co-writing scripts, but also serving as an assistant director and associate producer. His last known on-screen appearance was in Apostolof's Fugitive Girls (aka Five Loose Women), where he played both a gas station attendant called "Pops" and a sheriff on the women's trail.
In 1978, Wood's depression had worsened, and with it a serious drinking problem. Evicted from his Hollywood apartment on Yucca Street, Wood and his wife, Kathy O'Hara, moved into the North Hollywood apartment of friend Peter Coe. On December 10, only days after the move, Wood died of a heart attack while watching a football game alone in Coe's bedroom. In Nightmare of Ecstasy, it was reported Wood yelled out "Kathy, I can't breathe!", a plea his wife in the living room ignored for 90 minutes before finally going in to find him dead; apparently, he frequently feigned heart attacks and screamed for help as a way of teasing her, and at one point she even shouted at him to shut up.
It is believed that Wood's mother, Lillian Phillips, always wanted a girl and would sometimes dress her son in skirts and dresses. For the rest of his life, Wood was a heterosexual crossdresser. His wife Kathy recalls that Wood's transvestism was not a sexual inclination, but rather a neomaternal comfort derived mainly from angora fabric (angora is featured in many of Wood's films, and Ann Gora also happened to be one of Wood's pen names). Even in his later years, Wood was not shy about going out in public dressed in drag as Shirley, his alter ego—female character (who also appeared in many of his screenplays and stories).
In 1986, in an essay paying homage to Wood in Incredibly Strange Films, Jim Morton writes: "Eccentric and individualistic, Edward D Wood Jr was a man born to film. Lesser men, if forced to make movies under the conditions Wood faced, would have thrown up their hands in defeat."
In the late 1980s/early 1990s, three of Wood's films (Bride of the Monster, The Violent Years, and The Sinister Urge) were featured on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, which gave those works wider exposure. Producers of MST3K considered including Plan 9, but found it had too much dialogue for the show's format.
In 1994, director Tim Burton released the biopic Ed Wood, which starred Johnny Depp in the title role and Martin Landau, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. It also won an Academy Award for Best Makeup for Rick Baker. The film received mass critical acclaim, but did poorly at the box office. It has since developed a cult following.
In 1996, Reverend Steve Galindo of Seminole, Oklahoma, created a legally recognized religion with Wood as its official savior. Originally founded as a joke, the Church of Ed Wood now boasts over 3,500 baptized followers. Woodites, as Steve's followers are called, celebrate Woodmas on October 10, which is Ed's birthday. Numerous parties and concerts are held worldwide to celebrate Woodmas. On October 4–5, 2003, horror host Mr. Lobo was canonized as the "Patron Saint of late night movie hosts and insomniacs" in the Church of Ed Wood.
In 1997, the University of Southern California began holding an annual Ed Wood Film Festival, in which student teams are challenged to write, film and edit an Ed Wood-inspired short film based on a preassigned theme. Past themes have included Rebel Without a Bra (2004), What's That in Your Pocket? (2005), Slippery When Wet (2006).
In 1998, Wood's previously unfilmed script I Woke Up Early the Day I Died was finally produced, starring Billy Zane and Christina Ricci. Outside of a brief New York theatrical engagement, the film did not receive a commercial release in the United States, and was only available on video in Germany due to contractual difficulties.
In 2013, a remake of Plan 9 From Outer Space titled Plan 9  directed by John Johnson releases.
- Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion, was released in 1992. This exhaustive two-hour documentary by Mark Carducci chronicles the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space and features interviews with Maila Nurmi (Vampira), Paul Marco, Conrad Brooks, et al. In 2000, Image Entertainment included the documentary on the DVD reissue of Plan 9 from Outer Space (in a two-disc set with Robot Monster).
- Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora, released in 1994 by Rhino Home Video, is a one-hour documentary on Wood's life and films. This includes rare outtakes and interviews with Dolores Fuller, Kathy Wood, Stephen Apostolof, and Conrad Brooks. Gary Owens narrates; Ted Newsom wrote and directed.
- The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr., written and directed by Brett Thompson, came out in 1995. This documentary about the life and films of Ed Wood features interviews with Wood's friends and co-workers and closely resembles Wood's own style, albeit with slightly better miniatures.
- The Incredibly Strange Film Show presented by Jonathan Ross.
Lost films 
Wood's 1972 film The Undergraduate is considered to be a lost film, along with his 1970 film Take It Out in Trade, which exists only in outtakes without sound (released by Something Weird Video). Wood's 1971 film Necromania was believed lost for years until an edited version resurfaced at a yard sale in 1992, followed by a complete unedited print in 2001. A complete print of the previously lost Wood pornographic film The Young Marrieds was discovered in 2004.
- William C. Thompson was Wood's cinematographer for all but Take It Out in Trade.
- Frank Worth composed music for Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
See also 
- B movie
- Ed Wood, a biopic on Wood's life
- Edward D. Wood, Jr. bibliography
- Edward D. Wood, Jr. filmography
- List of films considered the worst
- Z movie
- Harry and Michael Medved The Golden Turkey Awards, 1980, Putnam, ISBN 0-399-50463-X.
- Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy, p.[page needed].
- Edward D. Wood Jr. – Films as director and screenwriter:, Films as screenwriter:
- pp. 20–21 Hayes, David C. & Davis, Hayden Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Edward D. Wood Jr 2006 Lulu
- The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr., dir. Brett Thompson, 1996
- IMDB entry
- Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Edward D. Wood, Jr., David C. Hayes, p. 11
- Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy, p. 135.
- "Kathy Wood". Variety. July 16, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- "Ed Wood, Jr." by Jim Morton, Incredibly Strange Films, Re/Search Publications, San Francisco 1986, page 158
- "Oh My God?: God Is the Producer of Our Lives But We Are the Directors". Huffpost Entertainment. November 18, 2009.
- "ABOUT MR. LOBO". Cinema Insomnia. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- Reverend Steve Galindo (December 23, 2003). "Lesson 19: The First Saints of Woodism". Church of Ed Wood. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- Rudolph Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., Feral House, 1992, ISBN 978-0-922915-04-0; reprinted 1994, ISBN 978-0-922915-24-8
- Rob Conway, Ed Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films, McFarland, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7864-3955-3
- Edward D. Wood Jr. at the Internet Movie Database
- "Edward Davis "Ed" Wood". Motion Picture Director, Actor. Find a Grave. January 01, 2001. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
- The Hunt for Edward D. Wood, Jr. Exhaustive guide to Ed's films and their commercial releases.
- A good website for him
- Ed Wood, Jr.'s magazine work (Caution: Adult images)
- Ed Wood: A Neighbor on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- The Church of Ed Wood
- Ed Wood's lost TV pilot, "Final Curtain"