The Death of Tor Johnson Ed Wood Star

Tor Johnson
October 19, 1903 -May 12, 1971
“Time for go to bed.” 

Like several people associated with Ed Wood, Tor would be largely forgotten if itweren’t for making Ed’s horrible films. Vampira? Nope. Kelton the Cop?Nuh uh. Criswell? Possibly. Bela Lugosi, certainly! But Ed’s movies, for as terrible as they are,have staying power. They weren’t even good-bad. They were just bad.

I’m sure there are a lot more of you that are experts on this subject, I just dip in when it interests me. Tor, from what littleI’ve read, was a pretty nice guy. Swedish wrestler. A gentle giant.

I am stuck at jury duty today, and brought my laptop. Dull dull dull, but I did lunch over atClifton’s. I also bopped over to the records archives and looked up EdWood’s probate file on the suggestion ofmy new pal, Steve, who was on my tour last week.

What is most interesting to me about Tor, is that the last footage of Bela Lugosi that exists (nowI’ll probably be lambasted bypeople who are experts saying, “Well ACtually – Bela did…”), with him smelling the rose bush, was actually filmed outsideTor’s home in Sylmar. Coincidentally, just a block over from a street called Nurmi. Coinkydink?

Here is Bela leavingthe house, 


and a close up of the doortoday.


For those of you who don’t know, Maila Nurmi was the woman who played Vampira. 

The outfit Vampira wore was a sort of Morticia Addams style, and she hosted horror flicks on Los Angeles television in the’50s. Sorta like Elvira. Sorta EXACTLY like Elvira. IMHO Elvira completely ripped off Vampira, and Maila Nurmi had a lawsuit against Elvira for years, butdidn’t have the resources that Cassandra Peterson has, therefore had to drop the suit. 

Maila (photo by MarkBerry) lived on Hollywood Boulevard inalow-income apartment building. She claimed she fucked James Dean, and that’s all I need to know. Vampira wins.

What little info I was able to learn about Tor was from Rudolph Grey’s book, Nightmareof Ecstasy – the Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. Tor was a professional wrestler, but it was just a put on. He would often go out for drinks with his opponents after a match. By all accounts, a lovely man.

They shot Plan 9 From Outer Space on a soundstage, which still exists, just off Santa Monica Boulevard. 

There were some nice young men in a bandcalled Goodnite Moon who were rehearsing the day I peeked in, and were nice enough to let me in and take pictures.  

It was awesome to be in the place 

where that cinematic history tookplace, and according to at least one source, the film Ed Wood was shot thereas well.  

I returned with a camera crew not that long ago, and we were ableto shoot the soundstage for the DDT dvd.

Apparently, Ed would (HRR) get hammered (martinis) after aday’s shooting in the bar in front of the soundstage called, Gold Diggers. 

I went to GoldDiggers last night for the first time, with my friends Brian and Lon.  Ididn’t realize it was a stripper bar.  The things these girls could do withtheir booties.  Had two beers’ worth of a blast, then ventured on a localpub crawl.  Fun place.

According to the book, Tor drove one of those tiny cars, much like the original minis, and had special eating utensils in hishouse that appeared to be little shovels.

On May 17, 1971, Tor Johnson died at the age of 67 of a heart attack. 

Sitting next to me in the jury room is my new friend Bert. Bert is a doctor, and very nice. I was looking atTor’s death certificate and wondered how a person can have heart disease for 40 years, and nice Bert told me that it is literally the result of strep throat. Before antibiotics were readily available, strep would cause scarring on heart valves, thus making the ticker not so perfect.I’m paraphrasing here, obviously. Bert was much more eloquent.

Tor is buried at Eternal Valley Memorial Park, just a few yards from George Spahn, ofTHE Ranch.

Trivia: I understand that the Tor Johnson Halloween mask is aconsistent best seller, 

much better than thisone.

My pal Verne Langdon sends this:  

Here is an accurate depiction of the Tor Johnson mask we made at Don Post Studios (I owned half the company at the time, and conceived the mask and set up the deal with Tor, who was a life-long frind of mine).

 I hope you’ll use this photo in place of the one you’re displaying now, as it really doesn’t depict what made the mask our Post Studios ALL TIME BEST SELLER!

You have my permission to use this photo, and I speak for Don Post Jr. and Don Post Studios as well when I make this statement to you.

More Trivia:  Ohyeahhhhh…

Read more about Ed,Criswell and BelaLugosi.

Thanks to Randy, for accompanying me to these locations, and Harry for helpingme to not look like a total idiot.

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