As a child, Ed Wood loved movies and eventually found a job as a cinema usher. He got his first movie camera at 17. After serving in WWII, Wood began to write, produce, and act in a variety of low-budget science-fiction, horror, and cowboy films. To make ends meet, he also wrote pulp novels and horror stories. Today, Wood's films like Plan 9 From Outer Space are both mocked and celebrated with a cult following. In 1994, Tim Burton directed a film about his life starring Johnny Depp in the title role.
Movie director, screenwriter, actor, and producer, Edward Davis Wood, Jr. was born on October 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York to Edward Sr., a postal worker and his wife, Lillian. It is said that Lillian always wanted a girl and until Ed, Jr., was 12-years-old she dressed him in girls' clothing. Young Ed loved movies and eventually found a job as a cinema usher. He also learned several musical instruments and formed a singing quartet called Eddie Wood's Little Splinters. Ed Wood received his first movie camera on his 17th birthday and his first "film" records the crash of an airplane. When he was 17, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Wood enlisted in the Marines.
Upon his discharge from the Marines, Ed Wood pursued his love of the bizarre by joining the freak show of a carnival. At times, he played the part of the bearded lady and created his own prosthetic breasts. During the 1950s, he wrote, produced, and acted in a number of very low-budget science fiction, horror, and cowboy films. These films are celebrated today for their many obvious errors, cheap special effects, strange dialogue, miscasting, and crazy plots. Wood often struggled to make ends meet and was sometimes forced to churn out film scripts in one night to keep to schedules.
When his movie career began to wane, mostly from lack of funding, Ed Wood turned his prolific creative nature to the printed page, turning out sex novels, pulp fiction, and horror stories. The lack of money took its toll and Wood struggled with health issues, including an alcohol addiction. Eventually kicked out of their apartment, Wood and his wife, Kathleen O'Hara, moved in with a friend in North Hollywood. It was there that Wood died of a heart attack on December 10, 1978 at the age of 54.
Wood's legacy and cult following lives on with, for example, the University of Southern California holding an annual "Ed Wood Film Festival" for which students are charged with writing, filming, and editing an Ed Wood-esque short film based on a predetermined theme. His movies have been spoofed on Mystery Theater 3000 and many have been remade as pornographic movies. Additionally, many of his bizarre transvestite-themed sex novels have been republished. In 1994, a Tim Burton bio pic about his life was released. Ed Wood starred Johnny Depp in the title role along with an A-list cast that included Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette and Bill Murray.
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