|Today, we're putting together a jigsaw puzzle with lots of missing pieces.|
"The records will tell the story."
-Patrick/Patricia in Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda (1953)
Today, as a change of pace, let's talk about Ed Wood's younger brother Bill. As far as I know, no one's ever written an article about this man, and I think it's high time someone did.
You might not know that Edward D. Wood, Jr. even had a brother if you had only seen the Tim Burton biopic from 1994 or most of the well-known documentaries about Eddie like Flying Saucers Over Hollywood or Look Back in Angora. Howard William Wood (1926-1986), referred to by relatives as William or Bill Wood, is not mentioned in any of them. He's barely mentioned in Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992). However, that landmark biography does contain a couple of interesting anecdotes about Eddie's younger sibling. In a chapter called "Childhood/The World Outside," Eddie's mother Lillian remembers:
Junior and his brother William, they always got along good. If anybody did anything to each other, they were right there to tackle 'em. But... he was very jealous of Junior. I don't know why, because we did for both of them. We never did for one and not the other. Never.
|A small brass Buddha.|
About 100 pages later, in the chapter "The Wood Spooks," Eddie's widow Kathy says:
When Eddie's brother Bill was sent to Vietnam, he came over to our house on the way over. It was around Christmas. I put out all the best silver and cooked a big dinner... We sat there drinking the whole bunch of us, and it ended up in a big fight. I had given Bill a little brass statue of Buddha a newscaster gave Ed. I said to him, "Take this with you for luck." From what I understand, he fell off the back of a transport truck in Japan and ended up in the hospital -- never did get to Vietnam! Bill was always a little bit jealous of Eddie, and I think his wife was the same way. They were jealous of his success.
And that's it. Bill is never mentioned in the book again. I must confess, I've read Nightmare dozens of times, and I didn't even remember the anecdote about the Buddha statue. Why a newscaster would give such a thing to Eddie is beyond my comprehension. The thread that connects Lillian's story to Kathy's story is Bill's jealousy of Ed. Certainly, Eddie's showbiz ventures attracted lots of press attention over the years. Apparently, Bill and Ed became estranged, and Bill spent his remaining years forging a life that was as far away from Ed's as possible.