Ed Wood was born on October 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York. His father work for the United States Postal Service and his mother was a housewife.
As a child, Ed was interested in the theater and pulp fiction magazines. He was such a fan of films that he would frequently skip school to watch movies at the local movie theater. During his frequent visits, he collected movie stills from the theater garbage. It is also believed that his mother dressed him up in female clothing, causing Ed to become a closet transvestite.
During his youth, Ed worked as an usher at a local cinema, further contributing to his love of movies. He also joined a local band, where he played drums and sang vocals. When he turned 17, his parents bought him a Kodak "City Special" movie camera and he began to make his own movies as a hobby.
After graduating from school, Ed joined the Marines right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He continued his secret transvestite behavior, later claiming that he was wearing female underwear under his uniform during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Ed survived the war and returned home a hero in 1945.
After leaving the Marines, Ed joined a carnival, where he became a member of the freakshow. He particularly enjoyed playing the "bearded lady", but also took on other roles when necessary. His time as a circus performer influenced much of his later work in films.
During his free time, Ed indulged in plenty of alcohol and women. One of his longtime girlfriends was named "Dolores Fuller", but he later married a woman named Kathy O Hara.
After leaving the circus, Ed went back to his hobby of making films, only this time as a profession. He moved to Hollywood, where he managed to secure funding for a number of very low budget films starring a myriad of b-movie actors. One of his regular actors was none other than Bela Lugosi, famous for his role in Dracula. Ed and Bela became very close friends and remained so until Bela died.
His most famous film is most likely "Plan 9 From Outer Space", but it is famous for all the wrong reasons. It featured some of the worst acting ever put on film and horrible special effects. For example, Ed used hubcaps as flying saucers to remain within his budget.
Another notable film was "Glen or Glenda", where Ed himself played the main character, a transvestite. The movie was more of a documentary to explain the motivations of transvestitism and why society should accept people who dress in the clothes of the opposite sex. Ed later claimed that it was the work he was most proud of since it basically told the world who he was.
Ed took unusual routes to secure funding for his movies. His movie "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was actually sponsored by members of the Southern Baptist Church, but they forced the entire cast to be baptized prior to filming. Much of the other funding came out of his own pocket.
In old age, Ed endured serious financial problems and was forced to continue writing scripts to get by. He even directed and starred in some low budget pornographic films. He became seriously depressed and took to drinking large amounts of alcohol to escape the emotional pain. Eventually, he was evicted from his apartment for being unable to pay the bills and had to move in with a friend. He died of a heart attack a few days later on December 10, 1978.
In 1994, Tim Burton directed a biopic of his life, starring Johnny Depp as the man himself. The movie was a smash hit and revived the lost legend of Ed Wood.