Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 122: Who was Scott Zimmerman?

Scott Zimmerman of Cincinnati, OH as he appeared in (from left to right) 7th grade, 8th grade, and 9th grade.

Rudolph Grey interviewed dozens of subjects for his 1992 book Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. To tell the story of "the world's worst director" as fully as possible, Grey chatted with Ed Wood's friends, coworkers, and relatives -- a truly motley collection of human beings representing many walks of life. Most of the witnesses quoted in this book were in show business; some were not. But, even among this diverse group, Scott Zimmerman may be one of Nightmare's most unusual interviewees. 

Scott is quoted twice in Nightmare of Ecstasy. The first such instance occurs on page 66, during the chapter on Bride of the Monster (1955). He talks about the establishing shots in Bride and whether the Old Willows Place was a real location.

Scott Zimmerman discusses the establishing shots of the house in Bride of the Monster.

A much, much longer quote from Scott Zimmerman appears on pages 121 and 122, as part of the chapter entitled "Weird Scenes with the Pied Piper." The chapter consists of people sharing anecdotes about Eddie's personality and lifestyle. We learn about his mercurial nature, his irresponsible spending, his love of partying, his arguments with his wife Kathy, his TV-watching obsession, his love of cowboy films (especially those of his idol, Buck Jones), and his notorious habit of calling people up in the middle of the night to talk about whatever was on his mind. Scott is one of those to contribute a story, which I will include in full because it is rich with details:

Scott Zimmerman reminisces about Ed Wood.

Isn't that a great story? Scott Zimmerman was not in show business at all in 1975. He was just a nerdy teenager from Cincinnati who decided on a whim to call Ed Wood after watching Bride of the Monster on TV and ended up learning a lot about Eddie and his films in the process. This anecdote reminds me of what television personality Tom Bergeron has said about calling comedians Moe Howard and Larry Fine of The Three Stooges out of the blue circa 1972 and actually getting to interview them. Notice that Bergeron's story and Zimmerman's story both happened during the 1970s. I guess you could just call up your favorite stars back then, and it wasn't considered stalking.

Incidentally, I cannot pinpoint the exact TV showing that Zimmerman mentions. However, Bride of the Monster was broadcast numerous times in the 1970s, particularly in the late night hours on local stations across America (including Ohio). The movie was practically a staple of the small screen back then. I have every confidence that this part of Scott's story actually happened. Many Ed Wood fans were doubtlessly created by these after-hours broadcasts. 

Here's a typical mid-1970s newspaper listing for Bride of the Monster, this one taken from the May 16, 1975 edition of The Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune. I found this same basic capsule summary, complete with Tor Johnson's name rendered as "Thor," in other papers of the era. Some substituted "mad scientist" for "weird wizard," but the rest of the wording was more or less the same.

Bride of the Monster plays on TV in 1975.

But who exactly was Scott Zimmerman, other than a random fan who spoke with Ed Wood on the telephone in 1975? Unfortunately, Rudolph Grey does not supply any details about this mysterious man in the "Biographical Notes" section of the book. From pages 163 to 169, the book's main interviewees are listed alphabetically by last name and given brief descriptions. However, the final person named in that section is Mildred Worth, wife of Bride of the Monster composer Frank Worth. Sorry, Scott.

Grey does include Scott Zimmerman's name in the "Acknowledgements" section at the very end of the book. There, Scott is identified as one of those who provided "information, assistance and the use of valuable materials." I wonder how Grey knew to contact Scott in the first place? Could he have been following a lead from Kathy Wood? (Scott indicates that he spoke with Kathy before ever talking to Ed.)

Both Scott and Zimmerman are common names, so it figures that there are a lot of Scott Zimmermans out there in the world. How will we determine which of them was the Ed Wood fanatic? If our Scott was a teenager in 1975, that puts his birth somewhere between 1956 and 1962. We also know that Scott lived in the Cincinnati area, so that narrows it down even further. I found yearbook photos (included above) of a Scott Zimmerman who attended Finneytown High School in Cincinnati in the late 1960s. He seems to be a likely candidate. This skinny, gawky kid with the broad smile and prominent nose and ears looks like someone who might've stayed up late to watch Bela Lugosi in Bride of the Monster.

What happened to Scott Zimmerman? Did his love of movies cause him to pursue a career in Hollywood? Is he still alive today? Scott, if you're out there, let's talk. Alternately, if you're not Scott Zimmerman but have some details to share about him, let me know.