My friend Bill West and I will soon begin hosting a television show in Santa Clarita introducing films made in the area.
A lot of schlocky, MST3K-type, low-budget horror and science-fiction films were shot up here, which is good for us, because we’re both big fans.
While tossing around ideas for our first shows, Bill brought to my attention that Dolores Fuller had died just a few days ago.
Fuller was one of the members of the angora sweater-wearing auteur Ed Wood’s “acting” troupe, as well as his one-time girlfriend. She was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Tim Burton’s incredible 1994 biopic Ed Wood.
I’ve long been intrigued by the story of Dolores Fuller. She was born Dolores Eble in Indiana in 1923, and after coming west, landed a bit part in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night as an 11-year-old.
As an adult, she worked behind the scenes in television for Queen For A Day and The Dinah Shore Show, before meeting Wood in 1952, when she tried out for a role in one of his films.
The two fell in love and she began appearing in his movies, most notably in 1953’s Glen or Glenda?, a film based on Wood’s closeted transvestitism. Wood’s cross-dressing would eventually doom the relationship, but not before Fuller appeared in Wood’s Jail Bait in 1954, and in the deliciously bad Bride of the Monster the following year.
After splitting with Wood, Fuller learned that there were few opportunities in Hollywood for a Z-movie queen who wanted to advance up the alphabet to choice roles in better productions.
So, she became a songwriter for some guy named Elvis.
Fuller’s road from schlock to rock started when she asked her friend Hal Wallis for a part in Presley’s Blue Hawaii. Instead, Wallis – who earned countless fortunes producing Presley’s films – hooked her up with a composer, and Fuller ended up co-writing Rock-a-hula, Baby, which Elvis performs in the film.
Fuller would eventually write a dozen songs for Presley’s films during the 60s, as well as other tunes that were recorded by another member of music’s royal family – Nat “King” Cole.
She appeared for years at autograph shows and Ed Wood film fests before passing away in Vegas on May 9 at the age of 88.
With luck, Bill and I will find a local connection with Glen and Glenda? so that we can present the film to an unsuspecting Santa Clarita Valley audience.
Should this happen, we’ll leave it to you to decide who looked better in angora – Dolores or Ed.