Actress and songwriter Dolores Fuller died on May 9th at her home in Las Vegas after a long illness. She was 88. A one-time girlfriend of Edward D. Wood Jr., she appeared in two of the director’s movies featuring Bela Lugosi – Glen or Glenda (1953) and Bride of the Monster (1956). She also appeared in Wood’s Jailbait (1954). Wood wanted to marry her, but she refused. In Rudolph Grey’s Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr., she was quoted as saying of Wood, “I loved him in a way, but I couldn’t handle the transvestism. I’m a very normal person. It’s hard for me to deviate! I wanted a man that was all man… After we broke up, Ed would stand outside my home in Burbank and cry..just scream and cry. “Let me in, I love you!” What good would I have done if I had married him? We would have starved together. I bettered myself. I had to uplift myself.”
Of Bride of the Monster, she told Grey, “We had Bride of the Monster all finished and we had a date in a theater to premier it, but we didn’t have enough money for the lab costs. We were so concerned with all the publicity out, and everybody coming to the premiere, and not being able to pick up the film, that we made a deal with Sam Arkoff, who had a little one room office in the Nickodell restaurant building. I guess the deal he made was pretty stiff because with these two pictures that he bought from Edward, he started his whole empire of American-International Pictures.”
Dolores’ first film experience was as a background extra in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934). She appeared in a total of eighteen movies during her career, including cult favourite Mesa of Lost Women (1953). She also worked as a stand-in for Dinah Shore on her TV show and appeared in an episode of The Adventures of Superman in 1956.
Unidentified actress, Bela Lugosi and Dolores
When she unsuccessfully tried to get a role in the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii, her friend, and the movie’s producer, Hal Wallis introduced her to Hill and Range, the publishing company that provided songs for Presley. With composer Ben Weisman, she co-wrote Rock-A-Hula Baby for the movie. She went on to co-write songs for the Presley movies Kid Galahad, It Happened at the World’s Fair, Fun in Acapulco, Kissin’ Cousins, Girl Happy, Easy Come, Easy Go and Spinout. She also co-wrote Cindy, Cindy, which appeared on Presley’s 1971 album Love Letters From Elvis, Someone to Tell it To, recorded by Nat King Cole, and Losers Weepers, recorded by Peggy Lee.
Bela Lugosi, Delores and Ed Wood at the West Coast Theatre in San Bernardino on New Year’s Eve, 1953.
In Tim Burton’s ED Wood (1994), Dolores was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker. Although she liked the movie in general and Johnny Depp’s performance, she was displeased by the way in which she was portrayed. She felt her accomplishments and contributions towards Wood’s career were belittled.
In 2008, she told her own story in her autobiography, A Fuller Life: Hollywood, Ed Wood and Me. (Andi Brooks)
Poster for I Led 2 Lives, an alternate title for Glen or Glenda.
A Christmas card to Dolores and Ed Wood from Bela Lugosi
(Courtesy of http://www.moviemonstermuseum.com/belalugosi2)
Dolores talks about Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood and her portrayal in Tim Burton’s movie.