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The Last Days of Wood

I’m trying to time this right, so that, by the time you are reading this, the fortieth anniversary of the passing of Edward D. Wood, Jr. will be upon us. Ed Wood died on December 10th, 1978 from heart failure due to alcoholism. He was only 54 years old. Three days prior, on December 7th, he and his wife Kathy had been evicted from their small apartment at 6383 Yucca Street, part of the vice-ridden Fleck Apartments in Hollywood, California, due to their inability to pay rent. They were staying with a friend, actor Peter Coe, when Ed died. Lying down in Coe’s bedroom, he called to his wife for help, saying that he was having trouble breathing. She ignored him. I have to confess that I will never be able to forgive her for that, or for making Ed’s life such a living hell. It isn’t fair to blame her entirely. The two of them had a toxic, dysfunctional relationship; Ed suffered from severe depression, and both he and his wife were alcoholics. Even so, I simply can’t excuse her treatment of him.

Today that apartment is part of a dormitory for the students of the AMDA Arts Academy. I wonder who lives in that room now, the room that once served as home to Hollywood’s most underappreciated genius, or if that person knows what a great man once called the place home.

Ed Wood was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. There is no grave, no headstone for him. His work remains as his monument, and it is that work that guarantees he will never be forgotten.

Let me paraphrase the song by Elton John in regards to Mr. Wood: “I would have liked to know you, but I was just a kid. Your candle burned out long before. Your legend never will.”

(Thanks to Bob Blackburn, executor of the estate of Kathy Wood and my social media buddy, for some of the information used in this article.)

TheCheezman • December 10, 2018


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