I’m sorry to announce that Conrad Brooks – featured in three Pirromount films, and the last surviving cast member of the Ed Wood cult classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” passed away in his home December 6th, 2017.
I met Conrad in 1981 as I was just starting my first feature film, A Polish Vampire in Burbank. A few friends and I went to a theatre in West Los Angeles to see a few Ed Wood films (Wood was just beginning to be discovered), Plan 9 was one of them. After enjoying the show, and talking back at the screen in a way that would eventually become popular by shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, we were heading back up the aisle and saw a bunch of folks in the last few rows of the theatre, discussing about how much fun it was to work on those movies. We stopped to talk to them and they were overtly friendly to us, appreciating the recognition. After we left the theatre and were walking to our car, we noticed that they were ahead of us. We ran ahead and continued the conversation for several minutes. At that time Conrad had introduced himself to us. We was with Paul Marco, another veteran of Ed Wood films, and a few others whom I don’t remember. After talking, I mentioned to them that I was starting a new film and would any of them be interested in appearing in it. Conrad brightened up and said, “Sure. I haven’t worked as an actor since the 60s.” I was thrilled to see his interest.
A few months later, he came to work on my film, playing a bartender. I remember how he could never really get his lines straight. He had a tendency to add his own dialog, take after take. As this was my first feature film, I didn’t really know how much a director should allow an actor to ad lib, but I rolled with it. Unfortunately, when lead actor Eddie Deezen quit the film, and I had to do a rewrite of the script, Conrad’s part was cut down to a simple cameo.
Not long after the movie was finished, Conrad introduced me to Film historian Forrest J Ackerman, and we arranged a screening of Polish Vampire at Ackerman’s Ackermansion in the Los Feliz area of Hollywood. Forrest enjoyed the film and informed me that he was also available to act in movies, and wouldn’t mind being in my next film.
A few years later I started working on Curse of the Queerwolf. Forrest played an alcoholic in the movie, and Conrad was brought back into the Pirromount fold to play a smoking addict. Conrad had a lot more to do in this film, although he couldn’t quite get the hang of the audio looping and I ultimately had to replace his voice in post production.
While I was working post production on Queerwolf, I was given the opportunity to direct Deathrow Gameshow for Crown International Pictures. I nabbed Conrad again, and this time made him one of the ‘judges’ for the opening stunt. No lines. He was perfect. Got it on the first take.
After that, I would occasionally run into Conrad on the celebrity festival circuit. He’d be selling autographs and stills from his various films. Conrad starting making a name for himself again by starring or co-starring in many independent and amateur films, I believe his final count was almost 100. He also appeared as a bartender (!) in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic “Ed Wood.” At the end of the film, Conrad was listed as “The Gielgud of Bad Movies.”
Eventually Conrad got tired of the Hollywood life and moved in with his sister in West Virginia. Once in awhile, we’d talk on the phone, but I hadn’t seen him since the mid 90s.
I will always have fond memories of the time I knew Mr. Brooks. He was always there with a smile and an energy that was constant. I am happy our paths crossed over those brief years and am glad that I may have had a small part in reviving an acting career which had laid dormant for 20 years.