Edward D. Wood Jr.

Active - 1948 - 1998  |   Born - Oct 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York, United States  |   Died - Dec 10, 1978   |   Genres - Horror, Drama, Crime, Science Fiction, Western

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Biography by Bruce Eder

One of the strangest men to ever occupy the director's chair in Hollywood, Edward D. Wood Jr. was a denizen of the netherside of the film capital. After arriving in Hollywood as an actor, Wood moved around Poverty Row for a few years, picking up odd assignments, and emerged as a writer-director in the mid 1950s in a series of low-budget movies focusing on crime, sexual deviance, transvestism, flying saucers, atomic radiation, and the occult. Wood admitted that the transvestism was autobiographical, but how involved he was with any of the other subjects is an open question. Glen Or Glenda (1953) was his most personal film, an ineptly written and directed, but sincere, plea for an understanding of transvestism that presented Bela Lugosi in an incomprehensible featured role and Wood himself (and his wife) as the main subject of the film. Other films, including The Sinister Urge (1960), a cautionary tale about the effects of pornography, and Bride of the Monster (1956) followed, but Wood's immortality as a filmmaker was established with Plan Nine From Outer Space (1956), a bizarre but utterly entertaining story of grave robbers from deep space, featuring ludicrous dialogue, non-existent special effects, and some of the worst acting ever to grace a feature film, all pulled together in an utterly inept but ultimately near-hypnotic manner by Wood. His follow-up film, Night Of The Ghouls (1959), remained in the lab for 23 years because Wood couldn't pay the processing bill. During the '60s and '70s he moved on the periphery of Hollywood, supporting himself by grinding out pornographic novels, among other works. He died in 1978, just two years before a loving public rediscovered him and Plan Nine From Outer Space, which has since acquired a cult following akin to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He would, no doubt, be pleased, amused, and amazed by the international following and recognition he has achieved in the decades since.

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  • Served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII.
  • Drawn to the odd and bizarre, he joined a carnival after the war, performing in the freak show.
  • Often wrote, directed and acted in his films out of necessity to save time and money.
  • Wrote pulp crime and sex novels to supplement his income; often these books had transvestism as a theme.
  • USC holds an annual Ed Wood Film Festival; entrants are tasked with writing, directing and performing in a Wood-inspired short film with an assigned theme.
  • Recognized as the savior of a legally sanctioned religion formed in 1996 and whose members are known as Woodites. Woodites celebrate Woodmas on October 10th.
  • Was portrayed by Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's 1994 movie Ed Wood.