October 10, 1924 - December 10, 1978: Age 44
Ed Wood Jr. was an American film director who, two years after his death, was thrust into the spotlight by receiving the Golden Turkey Award for the "Worst Director of All Time". His masterwork, Plan 9 from Outer Space, received the "Worst Movie of All Time" award.
One of the paradoxes of set theory is that as soon as something reaches an extreme in a given set, it becomes a candidate for the opposite set. Wouldn't you be curious to view the "Worst Movie of All Time". Many people have been, including myself, and although the movie is truly awful it's quite enjoyable to view because it's so funny. There is also another quality present in Ed Wood's films: a naiveté so invincible that despite the bad acting, directing, sets, editing, costumes, and everything else, you can't help but be entertained. Tim Burton caught this quality nicely in his biopic, Ed Wood.
In real life, Ed Wood's path was difficult. His films were terrible, but he managed to get things done by virtue of his dogged persistence and his relationship with Bela Lugosi, a very famous horror film actor who had fallen on hard times. When Lugosi died, Wood could no longer find funding for his films and got by taking any film work he could get, writing, assistant directing and producing, and even acting in bad semi-pornographic films. He also wrote softcore/horror blends for pulp fiction.
He relied more and more on whiskey to relieve his depression and his marriage and finances suffered inversely with his consumption. Having been evicted from his apartment, he died of a heart attack in the bedroom of a friend while watching football. According to one biography, he yelled to his wife in the other room "Kathy, I can't breathe!", but she didn't respond. About 90 minutes later a friend entered the bedroom and found him dead. Two years later he achieved posthumous fame with his Golden Turkey Award.
Sources: Wikipedia, The Church of Ed Wood