Director, Edward D. Wood Jr., was born Edward Davis Wood Jr. on Oct 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Wood died at the age of 54 on Dec 10, 1978 in North Hollywood, CA .
Edward Davis Wood, Jr. was born on October 10th, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York. His father, Edward, worked for the U.S Postal Service as a janitor while his mother, Lillian, stayed home to care for little Ed. It's reported that his mother always wanted a daughter and would dress Wood as girl for much of his childhood. This would clearly have large psychological affect on the young man, as he would be heterosexual cross-dresser for the rest of his life. During his most formative years Wood began developing an interest in comic books, performance and pulp fiction. He had an expansive collection of comic books, fiction magazines while also developing a strong love for the cinema. He would often spend the day at the movie theatre, skipping school to indulge his love of movies. This love would only intensify when on his 12th birthday; Wood received a motion picture camera as a gift. Soon the young lad was shooting as much as he could, experimenting with the tool that fuel much of his adult life.
World War II
His love of the movies led him to his first paying job as an usher at a movie theatre. In 1942, at the age of 17, Wood enlisted in the marines mere months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to the 6th and 7th Defense Battalions and by all reports Wood was an excellent solider. He saw action at the Battle of Tarawa and the particularly bloody Battle of Guadalcanal; losing his two front teeth as well as getting shot in the leg. Because of his bravery on the battlefield, he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. It has been said that during this time Wood was more afraid of being injured than dying because of the woman's bra and panties he would often wear under his regulation uniform. By the time he was discharge in 1946, Wood had achieved the rank of Corporal.
After his discharge from the military, Wood left the rigid, scheduled life of the Marines and traded it in for the bizarre, non-traditional life of a the carnival. Although his life at this at the time is still somewhat hazy, it is said he performed as the bearded lady or a half man/half woman as he already was a habitual cross-dresser. After a year of traveling, Wood decided it was time to make some moves in regards to his career and headed west to Hollywood.
In 1947 Wood arrived to Los Angeles and began acting in small roles at local theater productions. He also remained with his own projects and in 1948 wrote, directed, produced and starred in Casual Company, a play based on his own experience serving in the United States Marines. Setting the tone for the rest of the career, the play was complete failure, garnering negative reviews from almost every critic who sat through the performance. Although the play quickly closed, Wood remained optimistic in his career and simply forged ahead. It is this unique blend of unrelenting optimism and denial that would gain a small following of outcasts living on the fringes of the mainstream Hollywood lifestyle.
During this time Wood also began work on his first attempted feature film Crossroads of Laredo, a small budget western in which Wood wrote, directed and starred. Although originally meant to be feature length film, loss of funding cut the films down to only half an hour. Despite these early failures, but the end of decade Wood managed to find employment at Universal studios in their scheduling department. Through hard work and boundless dedication Wood quickly worked his way to the studios story department. He then took a job as stunt double on the B-grade western, The Baron of Arizona, starring Vincent Price. Although the role required little of him, it was enough to allow Wood to enroll in the Screen Actor's Guild.
Almost to Success
Now member of S.A.G, Wood's career was looking up. He soon began writing and directing commercials as well as some television work such as directing the series pilot Crossroad Avengers: The Adventures of the Tucson Kid. It was during this time that wood began his friendship with veteran horror film actor, Bela Lugosi, who would later appear in many of Wood's film until his death, and even after. In 1952 Wood was introduced to the independent exploitation producer George Weiss, who hired Wood to write scripts for his small-time production company. After a slew of semi-successful script, Wood was given the chance to direct his first true feature length film, Glen or Glenda. The film was loosely based on transgender Christine Jorgensen, who had become a national sensation. However, in the hands of the actual cross-dressing Wood, the film seemed to become somewhat of surreal auto-biography, complete with him playing the lead of role of Glen (under the stage name Daniel Davis). While the film was made with very little time, money, or actual directorial competence, during its production no one on set showed more enthusiasm than Wood. Despite its complete failure at the box-office, Wood proudly called it the most personal of all his films.
The next year he wrote and directed what is considered his most mainstream film, Jail Bait. The offbeat film-noir centers around a young criminal who uses plastic surgery as a means of escaping the law. Like his previous films, it was not successful. In 1955 Wood wrote and directed the horror film Bride of the Monster, starring Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist who plans on conquering the world via a race of atomic super-beings. Because Lugosi was in the midst of drug addiction and was in desperate need of money, some felt Wood was taking advantage of the veteran actor, however, there are many others who state their friendship was genuine. Although the film was a critical failure, it did manage to turn a profit at the box office, making it the only Ed Wood movie to do so.
Plan 9 from Outer Space
After completing Bride of the Monster, Wood began working on his next project that he would write, produce, direct, and find a financial backing. A true Ed Wood production. He shot some silent test footage with Lugosi but when Lugosi died in 1956, Wood was forced to shelve the project for three years. In 1959 Wood finally got the money, from all places a Baptist Church, to complete the film. And with it, Plan 9 from Outer Space was Born. The film centers on an alien plot to take over the world via the raising of the dead to form a mass army and starred his clique of Hollywood oddballs, body-builder Tor Johnson, TV personality Vampira, the celebrity psychic Criswell, and Bela Lugosi, thanks to the previously shot test footage. Despite Wood's earnest attempt, the results were nothing short of laughable. Cheesy dialog and a non-coherent plot coupled with bad special effects and the use of Wood's chiropractor as Lugosi's body double made for what would eventually be called the worst movie ever made.
After finishing Plan 9, Wood went into production for his next project, another horror film called Night of the Ghouls, a semi-sequel to Bride of the Monster. Although Wood had enough money for production, funds ran dry when it came to processing the film. The negatives were then put into the vaults, where they would stay for 30 years until a wealthy Wood fan bought and processed them in the 1980s. His next film, The Sinister Urge would be his final mainstream film. It, of course, was a failure at the box-office and with critics.
Later Career and Life
After The Sinister Urge, Wood's career would only go downhill. Due to his past failures as a director, he could only find screenwriting work to make a living. On top of that, much of the work he found was for sexploitation producer Stephen C. Apostolof. He spent much of the 1960s and 1970s writing soft-core pornography as well some pulp-fiction on the side. In desperate need of money, he took any work he could find, and in 1970 directed his first hardcore pornography flick Take It Out in Trade. The next he would first his final film, the horror-porn Necromania, a film based on one of his many novels. Over the next few year Wood remained in the Apostolof payroll, scripting any film that could get him some money. Unfortunately for Wood, his depression and drinking would spiral out of control, rendering him unable to work much of the time. In 1978, he and his wife were evicted from their home and forced to move in with their actor friend Peter Coe. A few days later, after a day of heavy drinking, Wood suffered a heart attack. Ed Wood died on December 10th, 1978. He was 54 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
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