I was in rehearsals at the LaJolla Playhouse for a pre-Broadway run of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying when the cast decided to go and support Matthew Broderick’s then girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker’s starring role opposite Johnny Depp in ED WOOD directed by Tim Burton.
Have to admit, didn’t know much about Ed Wood before I saw this film, but I left knowing that Martin Landau would mostly likely be walking home with an Oscar for his portrayal of the legendary horror film star Bela Lugosi.
For those of you who don’t know Ed Wood, he was a screenwriter who emulated Orson Wells, who was Hollywood’s golden boy at the time due to a little film called Citizen Kane. Wood was known for having a group of very strange, yet colorful characters as friends and for having a desire to dress in women’s clothing (which we now call being a transvestite). Wood is also known for directing the worst horror film of all time, Plan 9 from Outer Space.
One of his ex-grilfriends, Dolores Fuller’s (who Sarah Jessica portrayed in the film), friendship with producer Hal Wallis led to her co-writing (with composer Ben Weisman) Rock-a-Hula Baby for several Elvis Presley films including the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii, Kid Galahad, It Happened at the World’s Fair, Fun in Acapulco and Spinout. As well as co-writing “Someone to Tell it To,” recorded by Nat King Cole, and “Losers Weepers,” which was recorded by Peggy Lee. Fuller also founded a record company, launched Johnny Rivers’ recording career and served as a talent manager.
Ed Wood reunited Johnny Depp with director Tim Burton and they have since collaborated on eight films, including Ed Wood. Until Ed Wood, Martin Landau was best known for his role on the hit TV series Mission Impossible. Sarah Jessica Parker made being a single girl in New York City hot, while Matthew Broderick went on to have a major hit on Broadway with The Producers…making it the most costly ticket price clocking in at over $100 a pop.
Meanwhile, Ed Wood never achieved the fame or notoriety of his idol Orson Wells. Wood’s depression and serious drinking problem resulted in he and his wife’s Kathy’s eviction from their Hollywood apartment on Yucca Street on Thursday December 7, 1978.
The couple moved into the North Hollywood apartment of their friend actor Peter Coe. Wood spent the weekend drinking vodka and around Noon on December 10, Wood felt ill and went to lie down in Coe’s bedroom. He asked Kathy to bring him a drink which she refused to do. He then yelled out, “Kathy, I can’t breathe!” a plea Kathy ignored. Kathy sent a friend to check on Wood who discovered him dead from a heart attack. Kathy later said, “I still remember when I went into that room that afternoon and he was dead, his eyes were wide open. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He clutched at the sheets. It looked like he’d seen hell.” Wood was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. Wood’s wife Kathy died on June 26, 2006, having never remarried.
Here is clip from Ed Wood…