Paul Marco

HOLLYWOOD, Calif--Actor Paul Marco, who had aspirations of greatness in the movie business, but is primarily remembered for his association with grade-Z filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr., died at his home here May 14 after a long illness. His age seems to be a matter of some confusion, but most reports say he was 80. MSTies will remember him as the bumbling Kelton the Cop in the movie in episode 423- BRIDE OF THE MONSTER.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, the youngest of 13 children, Marco grew up expecting to be a Hollywood star, and doing everything he could to bring it about, including taking dancing, singing and drama lessons. He worked as a child actor in the "Meglin Kiddies," troupe, which also produced such legends as Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

He graduated from Hollywood High School and served in the Navy during WWII, after which he returned to his quest for stardom, mostly appearing in local theater productions. That work got him some attention from scouts, and resulted in his screen debut in 1944's "Sweet And Lowdown." The appearance does not appear to have helped him much: His next film appearance didn't materialize for eight years (and it was a small, uncredited one at that).

Reports differ on how Marco first met Wood. Some claim it was his agent who introduced the actor to Wood, during preproduction of "Bride of the Monster," leading Wood to rewrite a character in the script so that Marco could get a role. Marco's agent also claims she thought up the name of the Kelton character.

Others say it was TV soothsayer Criswell (who appeared in Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space" and saw star potential in Marco), who introduced the two. However it happened, Marco soon became a familiar of Wood's, and part of Wood's loosely-knit stable of ensemble players. In addition to "Bride of the Monster" and "Plan 9," he also appeared as Kelton in the awful "Night of the Ghouls" (1959). As Wood's film ambitions began to dissipate toward the end of his life, Marco found work elsewhere, including a role in 1965's "Rat Fink," but soon he retired from acting. The two remained friends until Wood's death in 1978.

Marco worked for many years as a props man at Paramount Studios.

In the 1980s, as the resurgence of interest in Wood's films began, Marco began appearing at autograph conventions and was interviewed for many documentaries and books about Wood. He founded his own fan club, through which he sold autographs and other memorabilia. In 1995 he recorded a song for Dionysus Records, reprising the Kelton character, called "Home on the Strange." In 2005 he again appeared as Kelton in a science fiction satire/tribute film called "The Naked Monster."

Most recently he was planning a three-part, made-for-DVD series of short films, again in the role of Kelton. Only the first, "Kelton's Dark Corner," was completed for his death.

Marco is survived by several nieces and a nephew. He was preceded in death by a son.