Michael H Wood Herbert T Wood Biography & Facts
Edward Davis Wood Jr. (October 10, 1924 – December 10, 1978) was an American filmmaker,
actor, and pulp novel author.
In the 1950s, Wood directed several low-budget science fiction, crime and horror films that later became cult classics, notably Glen or Glenda (1953), Jail Bait (1954), Bride of the Monster (1955), Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957), Night of the Ghouls (1959) and The Sinister Urge (1960). In the 1960s and 1970s, he moved towards sexploitation and pornographic films such as Orgy of the Dead (1965) and Necromania (1971), and wrote over 80 pulp crime and sex novels.
Notable for their campy aesthetics, technical errors, unsophisticated special effects, use of poorly-matched stock footage, eccentric casts, idiosyncratic stories and non sequitur dialogue, Wood's films remained largely obscure until he was posthumously awarded a Golden Turkey Award for Worst Director of All Time in 1980, renewing public interest in his life and work.Following the publication of Rudolph Grey's 1992 oral biography Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr., a biopic of his life, Ed Wood (1994), was directed by Tim Burton. Starring Johnny Depp as Wood and Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, the film received critical acclaim and various awards, including two Academy Awards.
Wood's father, Edward Sr., worked for the United States Post Office Department 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 in 1924. According to Wood's second wife, Kathy O'Hara, Wood's mother Lillian would dress him in girl's clothing when he was a child because she had always wanted a daughter (Ed only had one brother, several years younger than himself). For the rest of his life, Wood crossdressed, infatuated with the feel of angora on his skin.During his childhood, Wood was interested in the performing arts and pulp fiction. He collected comic books and pulp magazines, and adored movies, especially Westerns, serials, and the occult. Buck Jones and Bela Lugosi were two of his earliest childhood idols. He often skipped school in order to watch motion pictures at the local movie theater, where stills from last week's films would often be thrown into the trash by theater staff, allowing Wood to salvage the images, and to add to his extensive collection.On his 12th birthday, in 1936, Wood received as a gift his first movie camera, a Kodak "Cine Special". One of his first pieces of footage, and one that imbued him with pride, showed the airship Hindenburg passing over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, shortly before its disastrous crash 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. Subsequently, he formed a quartet called "Eddie Wood's Little Splinters" in which he sang and played multiple stringed instruments.
In 1942, Wood enlisted at age 17 in the United States Marine Corps, just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Assigned to the 2nd Defense Battalion, he reached the rank of corporal before he was discharged in 1946 at age 21. Although Wood reportedly claimed to have faced strenuous combat, including having his front teeth knocked out by a Japanese soldier, his military records reveal that to be false; apart from recovering bodies on Betio following the Battle of Tarawa, and experiencing minor Japanese bombing raids on Betio and the Ellice Islands, a recurring filariasis infection left him performing clerical work for the remainder of his enlistment. His dental extractions were carried out over several months by Navy dentists, unconnected to any combat. Wood had false teeth that he would slip out from his mouth when he wanted to make his wife Kathy laugh, showing her a big toothless grin. Wood later claimed that he feared being wounded in battle more than he feared being killed, mainly because he was afraid a combat medic would discover him wearing a pink bra and panties under his uniform during the Battle of Tarawa.
Directing and screenwriting
In 1947, Wood moved to Hollywood, California, where he wrote scripts and directed television pilots, commercials and several forgotten micro-budget westerns, most of which failed to sell. In 1948, Wood wrote, produced, directed, and starred in The Casual Company, a play derived from his own 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. That same year, he wrote and directed a low-budget western called Crossroads of Laredo with the aid of a young producer he met named Crawford John Thomas. The film was shot silent and was not completed during Wood's lifetime.
In 1949, Wood and Thomas acted together in a play called The Blackguard Returns at the Gateway Theatre (Wood played the Sheriff and Thomas was the villain). Wood joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1951, and worked very briefly as a stuntman among other things. When writing, Wood used a number of different pen names, including Ann Gora (in reference to Angora, his favorite female textile) and Akdov Telmig (the backwards spelling of his favorite drink, the vodka gimlet).In 1952, Wood was introduced to actor Bela Lugosi by friend and fellow writer-producer Alex Gordon (Wood's roommate at the time who was later involved in creating American International Pictures). 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 afford to refuse any work. However, 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 clinical depression and drug addiction. Lugosi had become dependent on morphine as a way of controlling his debilitating sciatica over the years, and was in a poor mental state caused by his recent divorce.
Glen or Glenda
In 1953, Wood wrote and directed the semi-documentary film Glen or Glenda (originally titled I Changed My Sex!) with producer George Weiss. The film starred Wood (under the alias "Daniel Davis") as a transvestite, his girlfriend Dolores Fuller, Timothy Farrell, Lyle Talbot, Conrad Brooks and Bela Lugosi as the god-like narrator/scientist. Fuller was shocked when she learned soon afterward that Wood actually was a transvestite.In 1953, Wood wrote and directed a stage show for Lugosi called The Bela Lugosi Review (a take-off on Dracula) that was put on at the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas. When Lugosi appeared on the TV show You Asked For It that same year, he announced that Ed Wood was producing a Dr. Acula TV show for him, but it never materialized. Wood acted as Lugosi's dialogue coach when he guest-starred on The Red Skelton Show in 1954, alongside Lon Chaney Jr. and Vampira (aka Maila Nurmi).
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