On July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko-Gurdin was born. She was born to Russian parents that didn’t speak much English. When Natalie was 4 her family was living in Santa Rosa ,California, while there a production company came to the town and young Natalie won the part of playing a little girl crying because she just dropped her ice cream cone in the movie “Happyland”. Her mother was determine to get her daughter into show business, and her father was against it, and her mother moved the family to Los Angeles and tried to get her daughter more movie parts, but they didn’t come right away. Three years later she failed her first screen test for “Tomorrow is Forever” because she couldn‘t cry at the time she was suppose too , but her mother convinced the studio to give her daughter another chance, and her sister Olga told her to think about her dog that just died because it was hit by a car, and she did and got the part for “Tomorrow is Forever” which also starred Claudette Colbert and Orson Wells. She went on to make “The Bride Wore Boots” with Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Cummings. In 1947, Natalie Wood went on to make her most notable role as a child star as Susan Walker in the Christmas Classic “Miracle On 34th Street” with Maureen O’hara and John Payne. She went on to make other movies like: “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, “Driftwood” with Ruth Warrick and Walter Brennan, and on this movie the bridge Natalie was on collapsed and she almost drowned and after this accident she had always been scared to death of water. She also went on to make “Father was a Fullback” with Maureen O’hara and Fred MacMurray, “The Jackpot” with Jimmy Stewart, “Never a Dull Moment” with Irene Dunne and Fred MacMurray , “The Star” with Bette Davis and on this movie Natalie was suppose to jump from a boat but she was so scared of the water she couldn’t do it , and Bette Davis threaten to walk off the set ,if they made Natalie do it , Bette Davis was the one who taught Natalie to stand up for herself.
In 1955, she made her most notable role as Judy in “Rebel Without A Cause” with Jame Dean, this made her into a movie star and she got nominated in 1956 for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role at The Academy Awards, but lost to Jo Van Fleet in “East of Eden”. This movie also made Natalie into a huge teen idol. She almost didn’t get the part, Nicholas Ray thought she was to much like girl next door to play a teenage delinquent, but Natalie wanted the part and she was in a car accident one night and Nicholas Ray came and visted her, and the police man called her a teenage delinquent, and Natalie asked Nicholas Ray if she can do the part now and of course she did. This movie helped her to go from a child star to a movie star. She also went on to date some of hollywood’s top actors including James Dean and Elvis Presely. She went on to make “The Searcher’s” with John Wayne and Natalie’s sister Lana Wood was also in this movie too.
On December 28, 1957, Natalie married Robert Wagner, actually when Natilie was 10 her and her mother was walking down the lot of the studio and Robert Wagner, 18 at the time, walked by them and Natalie turned around and told her mother that she was going to marry him someday. In the late 50’s not many of Natalie’s movies were big hits, and during this time Natalie started to get insomnia and also started to go see a phsychiatrist. In 1961, Natalie made a comback to the movies with “Splendor in the Grass” with Warren Beatty, with this movie she earned her second Academy Award nomination in 1962 for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but lost to Sophia Loren in “La Ciociara”. While making this movie Natalie began having an affair with Warren Beatty and she divorced Robert Wagner in April 1962. After this movie she had a string of hit movies like “West Side Story” with Richard Beymer, “Gypsy” with Rosalind Russell, “Love with the Proper Stranger” with Steve Mcqueen, which earned her third Academy Award nomination in 1963 for Best Actress in a Leading role, but lost to Patricia Neal in “Hud“. During this time Natalie and Elizabeth Taylor were the 2 most popular and the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She went on to make “Sex and the Single Girl” with Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, and Lauren Bacall, “The Great Race” with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.She made “Inside Daisy Clover” with Robert Redford hoping to win a Oscar award but the movie was a flop and she didn’t even get nominated. She made “This Property is Condemned” with Robert Redford and after that took 3 years off of making films. In 1969, Natalie married Richard Gregson, and she had a daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner. She also made “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” her comback movie to the screen. In 1971, she divorced her second husband Richard Gregson.
On June 16, 1972 Natalie remmarried Robert Wagner. She continued to make a few more movies and television movies. On November 29, 1981 Natalie Wood drowned, it is still a mystery how she drown, because she had a such a fear of water. In 1983, her last movie “Brainstorm” was released to theaters.
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