Fact vs Fiction: Touch wood – the strange life of Ed

In real life:
Like many geniuses, Ed’s success and failure, can be attributed to his mother, who dressed him like a girl until he was old enough to comment. This may explain her son’s later fascination with the feminine wardrobe. If nothing else, it prepared him for Hollywood.

By 1946 Ed had reached Hollywood. By 1948 he had written, produced, directed, and performed in his first big failure, the stage play The Casual Company. In 1954, he found enough money to make his first feature film, Glen or Glenda, starring himself and Bela Lugosi. Only one of his movies, Bride of The Monster, ever made money and unfortunately for Ed, he had sold in excess of 100% of the film to backers.

Ed Wood lived to make movies. He was never in the business to make money. He was an original. He died in 1978 at the age of 53, an alcoholic with many projects still in his battered briefcase.

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood

In reel life:
What if a director had all the energy of a young Orson Welles but none of the talent? This bizarre question is the basis of a fond biopic of Ed Wood Jr, alcoholic, transvestite and director of some of the worst movies ever made.

Played with unnerving glee by Johnny Depp, Wood emerges as a figure of irrepressible optimism and invention, whether filming giant rubber squid attacks or leading his cast through mass baptism to wring money from a Christian church fund. Martin Landau is terrific as Wood’s ‘discovery’: the washed-up, heroin-addicted silent movie star Bela Lugosi.


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