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10 Absurd Facts About the Worst Director of All Time

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October 10th was the birthday of Ed Wood, Jr. – the quirky filmmaker frequently referred to as the worst director of all time. But that moniker really sells him short. He was also an awful writer, actor and producer. What he lacked in filmmaking acumen he more than made up for in confidence, focus and panache. So, here now – in honor of what would have been his 86th birthday – are 10 absurd facts about Ed Wood, Jr.:

  1. Wood had a now well-known penchant for cross-dressing. This affinity for female garb inspired one of his more famous films, Glen or Glenda. It’s believed that it was Wood’s mother that first introduced him to cross-dressing, because of her intense desire for a daughter.
  2. Wood joined the Army at a young age and claims to have been involved in the famous Battle of Guadalcanal – all while secretly wearing women’s undergarments beneath his Army uniform.
  3. As a young man, Wood joined a carnival, appearing in the freak show as the bearded lady.
  4. As a jack-of-all-trades of his own films, Wood billed himself under a number of different pseudonyms, including Ann Gora (in reference to Angora - his favorite female textile) and Akdov Telmig (The backwards form of his favorite drink, the vodka gimlet).
  5. His pride and joy, Plan 9 From Outer Space, is notoriously-awful – featuring a number of shoddy special effects and cinematography errors. Among them: flying saucers suspended on clearly-visible strings, scenes which bounce back and forth from day to night, and cardboard grave markers that sway back and forth. The most famous, however, is Wood’s decision to utilize footage of Bela Lugosi shot for another film. He didn’t let the fact that fact that Lugosi had recently passed away of a heart attack stop him, either. He simply recast the role – giving it to a family doctor that had never acted before and didn’t resemble Lugosi in any way. As a result, the replacement actor awkwardly held his cape in front of his face in each of his scenes.
  6. Plan 9 From Outer Space was originally titled Grave Robbers From Outer Space. However, Wood was forced to change the title by the Baptist Church that he’d convinced to bankroll the film.
  7. In 1959, Wood directed a follow-up to Plan 9 From Outer Space entitled Night of the Ghouls, but audiences didn’t see the film until 23 years later. The reason? A processing lab had the film and Wood could not afford to pay his bill to get the footage back.
  8. Wood was known to frequently prank his wife Kathleen by pretending to be dying. This ultimately came back to haunt him when he suffered a real heart attack on December 10, 1978 and allegedly yelled for his wife in the next room of their home for more than an hour. Kathleen, believing he was once again pulling a hoax, didn’t check on him for more than an hour. When she finally did, he was dead.
  9. Wood never enjoyed the fruits of the iconic, campy status he now holds in film history. The movement to revisit and discuss his mostly forgotten works began, in large part, a few years after his death when a book called The Golden Turkey Awards named him The Worst Director of All Time. The same book named Plan 9 From Outer Space as the Worst Film of All Time.
  10. In 1996, a Californian named Steve Galindo established The Church of Ed Wood. Although admittedly started as a joke, the religion is now a legally-recognized religious organization. Alas though, Galindo and his followers may be may be just as good at leading a faith as Wood was at leading a film set. A note of their website currently reads: “PLEASE HELP THE CHURCH OF ED WOOD!!! Reverend Steve and The Church of Ed Wood are having SEVERE financial difficulties and need YOUR help!”

Yesterday was October 10, 2010—10.10.10! To celebrate, we planned a bunch of 10 lists, and the mass listeria has spilled into 10.11.10. To see all the lists we've published so far, click here.

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10 Stars Who Appeared on Saved by the Bell
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While the main cast of Saved by the Bell had varied success in their post-Bayside lives, many of the show's guests star went on to achieve Hollywood success. Here's 10 appearances by now-notable performers.

1. Christine Taylor
The former fake Marcia Brady and current Mrs. Ben Stiller appeared in a 1991 episode of the series (titled "S.A.T.s") where goof-off Zack Morris miraculously scored higher on his SATs than over-achiever Jessie Spano. When Christine's character Heather learned of Zack's great score, she begged him to help her study.

2. Soleil Moon Frye

The Punky Brewster actress appeared in a season four episode of the show during which Screech "invents" a new kind of spaghetti sauce and gets rich quick (using the tag line, "The sauce-a you can have, but the secret? She's-a mine!") But, when it turns out that the geek's recipe isn't legit and he loses it all, Frye ditches him.

3. Scott Wolf
Though he later became a teen heartthrob with his role on Party of Five, Scott Wolf paid his dues as an unnamed extra on Saved by the Bell. He appeared as a waiter at the Max, a movie patron, and as a member of the chorus in various episodes. You can see him in the green sweater standing next to Jessi Spano in this clip.

4. Leah Remini
The queen of Queens is one of the best-known guest stars of Saved by the Bell. She played Stacey Carosi, daughter of the Malibu Sands Beach Club owner Leon Carosi (played by Ernie Sabella aka the voice of Pumbaa in The Lion King). Her role lasted seven episodes and included her signature New York accent.

5. Eric Dane
Now better known as McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy, Eric Dane popped up in a summer episode of Saved by the Bell, while the gang was working at the Malibu Sands Beach Club. He played a former boyfriend of Stacey Carosi and an opponent in an annual volleyball competition. Sneak a peek of him here, in the neon orange shirt.

6. Tori Spelling
After years of chasing Lisa Turtle, Screech finally finds love in Violet Bickerstaff. She appeared in three episodes, including an episode called "House Party," where the gang takes over Screech's house while his parents' are away for the weekend. There is an infamous scene featuring Zack, Slater, and Screech lip syncing to "Barbara Ann."

7. Denise Richards
In the final episode filmed at the Malibu Sands Beach Club, Slater is pursued by Denise Richards, who has some unusual tactics for getting attention, including pretending to drown so he'll have to rescue her.

8. Bridgette Wilson
In 1992, Wilson (who you know from all sorts of movies, including I Know What You Did Last Summer and Billy Madison) appeared in five episodes of Saved by the Bell as Ginger, a ditsy blond. Wilson was not always credited for this role

9. Rena Sofer
Best known for roles on 24 (Marilyn Bauer), NCIS (Margaret Allison Hart), and Melrose Place (Eve Cleary), Sofer appeared as a single mom (and Zack's love interest, naturally) in 1992's made-for-TV Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style movie.

10. Casey Kasem
Playing himself, the well-known radio personality (and voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo), appeared twice on Saved by the Bell — first as the host of a dance contest at the Max and the second as the narrator of the episode titled "Rockumentary," during which Zack dreams of the gang (sans Jessi) as Zack Attack, a popular band that rises and falls.

And with this post, our 10.10.10 celebration (that spilled into 10.11.10) comes to an end. Let's do this again November 11, 2011! To see all our 10 lists from the last two days, click here.

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10 Awkward Speeches, Interviews and Rants
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Pass the mic and prepare for the worst. Here we have 10 awkward speeches, broken interviews, and impromptu rants by celebrities and public officials.

1. In this 1992 Hangin' With MTV interview with Faith No More, vocalist Mike Patton is too busy picking his nose to even listen to the questions.

2. A young Henry Rollins, way back in 1985, turns the tables on the interviewer. Intimidating? Just a little?

3. Sometimes an interview goes smoothly, like this one from 1980 with Dead Kennedys singer, Jello Biafra. Until the final question is asked. Huh?

4. Or, maybe the subject has just had a bad day in the studio, like Mark Motherbaugh of Devo did.

5. And you can't expect a trained killing machine to be coherent after beating someone up, as Mike Tyson demonstrates, in this video from 2000.

6. In 1986, Frank Zappa appeared on CNN's Crossfire... and let the other guest know what he can kiss.

7. At the 2004 Toronto Film Festival, actor Ed Harris demonstrates what the movie, A History of Violence, is about. Yikes.

8. Nardwuar, The Human Serviette is a brutal and obnoxious interviewer from Canada. Most celebrities run from him. But he is no match for Andrew WK, who slices open his own forehead on camera.

9. The late Harvey Pekar made many appearances on David Letterman's show. Unfortunately, he never started his own.

10. Finally, we arrive at what could be a new reality TV show called Bureacracy... starring the Vancouver City, WA City Council.

So, what did we learn about speaking into a mic? Don't stress. It's best when everything goes wrong.

Yesterday was October 10, 2010—10.10.10! To celebrate, we planned a bunch of 10 lists, and the mass listeria has spilled into 10.11.10. To see all the lists we've published so far, click here.

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