Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 104: The search for Clancy Malone (aka Scott McCloud)

Care to help me solve a mystery this week? Tell me who this man was!

A credit for Scott McCloud in Glen or Glenda.
If there is one thing that this project has taught me, it's that Edward D. Wood, Jr. has the most knowledgeable and persistent fans in all of popular culture. I think that would have pleased him greatly. Though he kept plugging away as a writer and director, always hoping for some measure of success and fame (or at least a little respect), Eddie barely subsisted on the fringes of show business from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. Even though he got his own lavish biopic in 1994, his career is nowhere near as well-documented as that of other, more respectable filmmakers. And so, his loyal acolytes have largely taken it upon themselves to gather information about Ed Wood and his movies. This week, I am hoping that the Eddie experts of the world will come to my aid as I try to solve a mystery that has stumped me for years.

In Ed Wood's woozy, hellish crime drama Jail Bait from 1954, the central character of Don Gregor is played by a young man credited as Clancy Malone. While this is not necessarily a star-making performance, Malone brings a certain nervous, Anthony Perkins-esque intensity to the part. His skinny frame helps, since he always looks too small for his clothes. Don Gregory is a spoiled, immature boy lost in the very grown-up world of crime and death, and that's just how Clancy Malone plays him. If you think about it, this is really a dual role, since Malone also appears at the end of the film as the post-plastic-surgery version of gangster Vic Brady. Unfortunately, the Internet Movie Database says that Malone never played another role, not even for Ed Wood. So who was this guy, anyway?

The only full-length biography of Eddie, Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy (1992), contains a few, fleeting references to Clancy Malone. The book does clarify, for instance, that Malone was also known as Scott McCloud and served under that name as Unit Director on Eddie's feature debut Glen or Glenda (1953). In fact, the book contains a remarkable snapshot (provided by Conrad Brooks) of the Glenda cast and crew posing in the doctor's office set. Clancy/Scott is front row center with a knowing smirk on his face. If you didn't know better, you'd think he was the director!

Scott McCloud (aka Clancy Malone) is the smirking guy in the front row with the script on his lap.

Other information about McCloud/Malone is difficult to come by. On the 2011 DVD collection Big Box of Wood, filmmaker Ted Newsom relates the following anecdote about him:
"The lead guy who plays the profligate son apparently was the guy who delivered groceries to Eddie Wood's apartment. He said he wanted to be an actor, and Eddie said, 'I've got the perfect role for you! Here it is!' And that was it. I don't think he ever acted again. He's okay."
This is very possible. The surest way to gain access to Eddie's entourage was to be in close physical proximity to him. In his later years, as detailed in Nightmare of Ecstasy, Eddie planned to use his neighbor Shannon Dolder in a film. It's not difficult to imagine a plucky delivery boy worming his way into a couple of Ed Wood movies. ("Gee, you're a real live movie maker? That's neat! I've always wanted to be in showbiz myself! Think you could use me?")

Ed Wood obviously took some pride in Mr. Malone's performance, giving the young thespian an "introducing" credit, complete with his character's name.

Prominent billing for Clancy Malone

For some reason, though, the actor was listed as Scott McCloud on the posters and lobby cards for Jail Bait. This particular example features a striking closeup of the newfound star.

This poster for Jail Bait lists Scott McCloud, not Clancy Malone.

So what happened to this guy? People don't just magically disappear. Clancy Malone/Scott McCloud must have had some kind of life before and after working with Ed Wood on Jail Bait and Glenda. Other than those two films, however, and that marvelous behind-the-scenes photo, there is very little to attest to the existence of this human being. If you have more information about him, let me know.

John Avery in Jail Bait.
UPDATE: After sharing this article with an Ed Wood discussion group on Facebook, a few readers have come forward with what they know about Clancy Malone. Ted Newsom, director of the documentary Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora (1994), said he had no more information about the actor and had even forgotten where he'd originally heard abut Malone delivering groceries to Eddie's apartment. "It was obviously someone who had spent time among the Woodites," Newsom speculates about his source.

Meanwhile, artist Stephen B. Whatley, whose work is featured in Dolores Fuller's 2008 autobiography A Fuller Life, shared a 1983 article from Fangoria magazine entitled "I Remember Eddie Wood" by Jail Bait coauthor Alex Gordon. In addition to being Wood's creative partner for a period in the 1950s, Gordon was also Eddie's roommate. In the article, Alex talks about those days with Ed Wood and how their paths crossed with Clancy Malone:
"I had kept up my friendship with Bela Lugosi and saw him several times a week and introduced Eddie to him, and Lugosi was eager to become involved. Eddie and I took a small apartment near Lugosi on Carlton Way [in Hollywood], with two small bedrooms and a kitchen, and two would-be actors, Clancy Malone and John Avery, to help considerably with the rent payments and supply of food."
This is interesting, as it suggests Malone was actually living with Ed Wood for a time. The "supply of food" detail may be the origin of the story about Clancy delivering groceries to Eddie's apartment. Perhaps Clancy was the one in charge of actually getting food and bringing it back to the Carlton Way apartment. John Avery, for the record, played a small role as a police doctor in Jail Bait, reciting his few lines ("Couldn't be any deader.") in a colorless monotone as his arms dangle lifelessly at his sides. Like Clancy, he never acted in a motion picture again. Throughout this research process, I've never been able to determine if this man's real name was "Clancy Malone" or "Scott McCloud." At least one of those is invented. The way Gordon tells the story, I'm beginning to think that the Malone moniker is genuine.