Ed Wood was an American director, writer, actor, and producer who is frequently dubbed “The worst director of all time.”
He is known for his low-budget science fiction, comedy and horror movies that he made in the 1950s. The Golden Turkey Award for Worst Director was given to Wood after his death in 1980. However, that is not entirely accurate because one award cannot encapsulate all the points of his career. His most famous works are “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, also declared the Worst film ever made, and the semi-documentary “Glen and Glenda.”
Edward Davis Wood Jr. was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 10, 1924, to Lillian and Edward Sr. who worked as a custodian for the U.S. Postal Service. Some rumors are claiming that his mother wanted to have a girl, so she dressed Ed in girl clothes until he was 12 years old.
Because of this, Edward cross-dressed for the rest of his life, often wearing angora sweaters, high heels, and a skirt which helped him to relax when he was directing a scene. During his childhood, Ed was always inspired by the occult, pulp fiction, and the performing arts. His biggest idols were Bela Lugosi and Buck Jones, with whom he worked during his career.
When he was 17 years old, Ed received his first movie camera for his birthday. His first film was a recording of the crash of the airship Hindenburg, in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The same year, Ed enlisted in the Marines after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and he reached the rank of Corporal. When he moved to Hollywood in 1947, Wood wrote and directed TV pilots, commercials, and low-budget westerns.
In 1952, he met the actor Bela Lugosi who became a close friend. The three women in his life were Dolores Fuller, an actress and songwriter, his first wife Norma McCarty, and his second wife, Kathy O’Hara, with whom Wood stayed for the rest of his life.
“Plan 9 From Outer Space”, produced in 1956, stars Tom Mason, Maila Nurmi as Vampira, Tor Johnson, Criswell and Bela Lugosi (posthumously with a silent footage shot by Ed for another movie).
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The movie is a combination of science fiction, gothic horror, and Atompunk genres. Wood tried to put ideas in his movie which were far too expensive to be done with minimal financial resources. Due to that fact, the resulting work was not very charming for the audience. Today, the movie and the director are mocked and celebrated at the same time. In 1994, Tim Burton directed a movie about Wood’s career “Ed Wood,” with Johnny Depp starring in the leading role. Ironically enough, the film about “the worst director of all time” won two Academy Awards, one of which was for best actor.