She was a Hollywood bit player and extra, appearing in the background of It Happened One Night and standing in for Dinah Shore on her TV series. In her later life, she managed a few stars and booked talent for Vegas. She even co-wrote lyrics for a few, very forgettable, Elvis Presley tunes. None of this would bring her any kind of celebrity, but by chance, she wore an angora sweater to an audition in the early 50s, and attracted the attention of this guy:
Ed Wood is the "auteur" who is credited with the worst film in Hollywood history, Plan Nine From Outer Space, and several other abysmal flicks. His films are apparently a scream to sit through (I've never seen one). Camera angles, dialogue, and special effects are all handled with such ineptitude that the poor schnook never got any respect. He led an unusual private life which intersected with his film career when he wrote, directed, and starred in Glen or Glenda, about a crossdresser. Dolores Fuller, and her angora sweater, played the female lead, though she later confessed she never read the full script and had no idea it was about a transvestite until the premier of the film. By then she had moved in with Wood, and accepted his habit of wearing angora sweaters as an artistic eccentricity. Once the film came out, she realized why her underwear often disappeared and then reappeared in the wrong drawer at home: Ed Wood was wearing them.
Wood, Fuller, and his entire film oeuvre would have sunk into complete obscurity had it not been for this guy:
Tim Burton's biographical film Ed Wood revived interest in this oddball, and Johnny Depp's wide-eyed performance insured that his name is at least remembered by Hollywood historians. Sarah Jessica Parker played our gal Dolores in the film,saying at the time that Fuller was the worst actress in Hollywood history. Not a very kind thing to say, as Dolores was still very much alive. Martin Landau won an Oscar playing Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, which is surely the closest the real Ed ever got to an academy award.
Dolores Fuller died this week; sadly, there are no musical numbers from Glen or Glenda or her other Ed Wood starrer, Jail Bait, so in her honor, the Dance Party features a pretty silly number from Girl Happy; it contains one of several Elvis Presley songs which Fuller helped write (none of which became much of a hit). Everybody do the Clam!