Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Ed Wood Wednesdays: More about Tommy Hood!

Let's explore the Tommy Hood case a little further.

Last week, James Pontolillo told us the saga of Harold Sprankle aka Tommy Hood, an aspiring actor who worked with Ed Wood before being brutally murdered in late 1950. I thought this was one of the most interesting articles that had appeared in this series in quite some time, and I was very grateful to James for bringing Tommy's sad, strange story to my attention. As it turns out, I wasn't even able to use all the material James sent me in last week's article. So let's fix that this week, huh?

(Note: Unless you've read last week's article, this one won't make much sense. So go do that if you haven't already.)

James went to the trouble of preparing a map of the major locations in the Tommy Hood case. Again, please consult the original article to learn the significance of these places. Basically, you'll see where Ed and Tommy lived in relation to the Gateway Theatre, where they both acted in The Blackguard. You'll also see the location of Cheney's Driving School, where Tommy worked, plus a few more businesses involved in the case.

A map of the Tommy Hood case.

One rather morbid item that James sent me was Tommy's death certificate. Interestingly, you can see that the young actor is listed by both his given name (Harold Edwin Sprankle) and his stage name (Tommy Hood). And check out that cause of death: "fractures of skull with intracranial hemorrhage and cerebral contusion." Ouch!

Tommy Hood's death certificate.

James also sent me a picture of a cream-colored 1950 Ford business coupe, just like the one Tommy owned when he went missing. This really gives you a sense of the era in which the story takes place. This looks like the kind of car you'd see in an old Superman comic.

Tommy Hood was driving one of these in 1950.

Next up are some mementos from the Gateway Theatre. Below, you'll see a program from The Blackguard as well as a map pointing to its location on Sunset Blvd. You've gotta love that top-hatted, mustachioed villain.

Ed Wood and Tommy Hood worked at the Gateway Theatre.

And here is a press clipping about Tommy's killer, James Francis Silva, from 1951.

Tommy Hood (right) shortly after his arrest in 1951.

Again, I'd like to thank James Pontolillo for sharing these fascinating images and cluing us into this intriguing yet tragic story.