Natalie Wood Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (73) | Personal Quotes (10) | Salary (10)

Overview (5)

Born in San Francisco, California, USA
Died in Santa Catalina Island, California, USA  (drowning and other undetermined factors)
Birth NameNatalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko
Nicknames Natalia
Height 5' (1.52 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California, as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Stepanovna (Zudilova) and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent, who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming US citizens. When she was just four years old, Natalie appeared in her first film, Happy Land (1943). A production company had come to Santa Rosa, California, where the Gurdins were living and Natalie won a bit part of a crying little girl who had just dropped her ice cream cone. With stars in her eyes for her daughter, Mrs. Gurdin packed the family and moved south to Los Angeles in the hopes that more films would come her daughter's way. Unfortunately they did not, at least not at first, and the family continued to scrape by much as they had done in Santa Rosa. In 1946 Natalie tested for a role in Tomorrow Is Forever (1946). She was only seven at the time, and flunked the screen test. Natalie's mother convinced the studio heads to give her another test, and this time she was convincing enough that they gave Natalie the role. In 1947's Miracle on 34th Street (1947), she won the hearts of movie patrons around the country as Susan Walker in a film that is considered a Christmas classic to this day.

Natalie stayed very busy as a child actress, appearing in no less than 18 films in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When she was 16 Natalie appeared in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) with James Dean, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper. She played Judy, a rebellious high school student who was more concerned with hanging out with the wrong crowd than being a sweet teenager like her contemporaries. The result was her first Academy Award nomination and a defining moment in her development as an adult actress. She appeared in Splendor in the Grass (1961), West Side Story (1961), Gypsy (1962), and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963).

While Natalie was reported to be unhappy making "West Side Story", the film did win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. In short, it was a smash hit. Although she wasn't nominated for an Academy Award in that one, she did receive nominations for her roles in "Splendor in the Grass" and "Love with the Proper Stranger". After This Property Is Condemned (1966) in 1966, Natalie stayed away from Hollywood for three years to have time for herself and to consider where she was going. When she did return her star quality had not diminished a bit, as evidenced by her playing Carol Sanders in the hit Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969). From that point on Natalie didn't work as much. She made a few television appearances, but nothing of substance with the exception of the TV mini-series From Here to Eternity (1979).

After making The Last Married Couple in America (1980), Natalie began work on Brainstorm (1983) in the fall of 1981 with Christopher Walken. She did not live to see it released. On November 29, 1981, she was sailing on the yacht she shared with her husband, Robert Wagner, and their friend Walken, when Natalie fell in the ocean while trying to board the dinghy tied up alongside the yacht and drowned. She was 43 years old. Natalie had made 56 films for TV and the silver screen and it's hard to say what she could have done while making her comeback. "Brainstorm" was finally released in 1983.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (3)

Robert Wagner (16 July 1972 - 29 November 1981) (her death) (1 child)
Richard Gregson (30 May 1969 - 12 April 1972) (divorced) (1 child)
Robert Wagner (28 December 1957 - 27 April 1962) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Large brown eyes
Small petite frame
Often played vulnerable characters put through emotional wringers

Trivia (73)

Sister of Lana Wood. They have a half-sister, Olga Viripaeff (1928-2015) who was born in China.
Named after director Sam Wood.
Her favorite actress was Vivien Leigh and her favorite singer was Bob Dylan.
She suffered from a deep fear of drowning after having barely survived an accident when she was a little girl, during the filming of The Green Promise (1949). Her fear was so great that Elia Kazan had to lie - promising a double - and trick her into doing the scenes at the water reservoir in Splendor in the Grass (1961).
Following her untimely death, she was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. On her grave, marked Natalie Wood Wagner: Beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother & friend "more than love".
Was commonly listed as 5' 3" wearing heels in movie magazines, though her actual height was 5' 2".
The Harvard Lampoon often singled her out for derision. On Saturday, April 23, 1966, she surprised the Lampoon's staff when she became the first performer they voted the year's worst to show up and accept her citation.
Reportedly turned down the role of Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) because she did not want to be separated from her psychoanalyst while the film was on location in the Midwest.
Splendour, the name of the yacht Wood was on the night she died, was named after her movie Splendor in the Grass (1961).
An accident on a movie set (she fell into a river and almost drowned) when she was 9 years old left her with a permanently weakened left wrist and a slight bone protrusion, which, for the rest of her life, she hid with large bracelets. Regardless of the movie role, or anytime that she was out in public, she always wore a large bracelet on the left wrist.
The rubber dinghy "Prince Valiant" she had allegedly been trying to board after falling from husband Robert Wagner's yacht that fateful Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, was named after Wagner's movie Prince Valiant (1954), a film the actor considered among his worst.
Had planned to produce as well as star in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), but the leading role of Deborah Blake went to Kathleen Quinlan by the time the film was made.
Attended ballet classes as a child with Jill St. John and Stefanie Powers. All three women would go on to have long-term relationships with Robert Wagner.
Pallbearers at her funeral were Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier, Elia Kazan, Gregory Peck, David Niven and Fred Astaire. Hope Lange delivered a eulogy.
Daughter with Richard Gregson: Natasha Gregson Wagner (b. 29 September 1970).
Daughter with Robert Wagner: Courtney Wagner (b. 9 March 1974).
Her death was kismet, as she always cited a fear of water.
Her and co-star Richard Beymer's singing voices were both dubbed in West Side Story (1961). The woman who dubbed Natalie, Marni Nixon, also dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964) and Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956). It was later reported that Wood was disappointed that her singing voice was not use in the movie.
Her paternal grandparents were Stephan Zakharenko and Eudoxie Sauchenko, and her maternal grandparents were Stepan Ilich Zudilov and Maria Andreevna Kuleva. She was of Russian and Ukrainian ancestry. Her father was an architect and her mother was a ballerina. She could do a proper plié before she could barely walk.
Her mother, Maria, claimed that the family was closely related to the Romanov dynasty.
Spoke Russian and English.
Though some people cite her mother as being French, her mother is Russian. The source of this misconception comes from the studio that Natalie worked at when she was a child -- people noticed her mother's accent and when asked if she was French, Maria replied: "Oh yes", a white lie that would contribute to this confusion.
Younger sister Lana Wood made a ABC TV special on Natalie's life, The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004).
Was offered a chance to play Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1974) under the condition that she screen test for the role, since she hadn't made a movie in almost 5 years. She refused to do the screen test and didn't get the part.
By the early 1960s, Natalie Wood was considered one of Hollywood's most valuable and wanted actresses. Her career started to lose steam after a row of box office disappointments in the mid-'60s, but she was still getting big movie offers. Rather than accepting roles that could kick her career back into high gear (Barefoot in the Park (1967), Goodbye, Columbus (1969), Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)), she stopped working, and by the mid-'70s was no longer a hot property. She appeared in just 4 feature films during the last 15 years of her life, not counting her would-be comeback picture Brainstorm (1983), which was incomplete at the time of her death. It was ultimately finished and released, but Wood's character had to be written out of some scenes, while a stand-in and changing camera angles were used for crucial shots.
She was cast as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976) quite unexpectedly, without campaigning for the role. Wood explained that when Laurence Olivier would come to Hollywood, she would often be seated with him at the table at formal sit-down dinners. When Olivier decided to make a version of the Tennessee Williams play, he thought of casting Wood, his dinner companion, and her husband, Robert Wagner, in the husband-wife roles of Brick and Maggie. Naturally, they accepted.
Wood knew screenwriter Gavin Lambert as both were intimates of director Randy Suhr. In the early '60s, he wrote a novel about an adolescent Hollywood starlet in the 1930s titled Inside Daisy Clover (1965). After reading the book, Wood telephoned Lambert and said, "I'd kill for that part.". He assured her she was his first choice for the movie, for which he was writing the screenplay. She got the part and Ruth Gordon got her first Oscar nomination as an actress for portraying Daisy's mother.
Both she and her sister Lana Wood have played the love interest of Richard Beymer in two separate films: she as Maria opposite Richard's Tony in West Side Story (1961), and Lana as Karen opposite Richard's Dean in Scream Free! (1969) (aka Free Grass).
She was the inspiration of High School Musical (2006) star Vanessa Hudgens.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 889-890. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
People magazine (USA) named her one of "The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1976" for the January 3, 1977 issue.
Entertainment Weekly placed her on the "100 greatest stars of all time" list, at #70.
Voted one of the top sex stars of the 1970s in Playboy magazine.
Called "The Most Beautiful Teenager in the World" by Life magazine in 1956.
Once interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, before his career took off, for the magazine "Hollywood Reporter" in 1979, two years before her her death. The article was entitled "The Body meets the Face".
Her death was listed at number 24 on E! Television's 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment.
Don Henley wrote the song "Dirty Laundry" to express his outrage at the tabloid press for their treatment of her after her death.
Met Robert Redford while attending Van Nuys High School. Redford was later her co-star in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and This Property Is Condemned (1966), and served as best man at her 1969 wedding to Richard Gregson.
"Natalie's Song" by David Pack, was written about Natalie Wood.
"Eyes Like Natalie Wood" by Kathy Fleischmann, was written about her.
Would not leave her house without wearing a full face of makeup, even if it was just to get the mail.
Started smoking at age 16. Gypsy (1962) co-star Morgan Brittany said of Wood, "I never saw her without a cigarette, ever." She quit smoking when she was 40.
Godmother of her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner was Ruth Gordon, who played Natalie's mother in the film Inside Daisy Clover (1965).
Rehearsals for her stage debut in "Anastasia" were to begin in December 1981.
Her niece Evan was born on 11 August 1974 and died at age 42 from heart failure on 18 July 2017.
She was the subject of the bestselling biography "Natasha" (2001) by former lawyer Suzanne Finstad. Finstad interviewed nearly 400 people in researching Wood and had the cooperation of her sister Lana Wood, who narrated the audio version. The book is controversial and makes explosive claims regarding the actress's early sex life, complex relationship with Robert Wagner, level of substance abuse and the circumstances surrounding her mysterious death.
Had an affair with 43-year-old director Nicholas Ray when she was 16 years old. Other way-older (by at least two decades) men romantically linked to the underage Wood, according to a multitude of publications, included Raymond Burr, John Ireland and Frank Sinatra.
Had to get her stomach pumped at the hospital following sleeping pill overdoses in June 1961 and November 1964.
Has multiple connections with the James Bond franchise. Her sister, Lana Wood, briefly appeared in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), in which Jill St. John (who is married to Wood's widower, Robert Wagner) played the main Bond girl. Wood co-starred in Meteor (1979) with Sean Connery, who played Bond in seven films, and in Brainstorm (1983), she co-starred with Christopher Walken, who was a Bond villain in A View to a Kill (1985). She also co-starred in From Here to Eternity (1979) with Kim Basinger, who was a Bond girl in Never Say Never Again (1983). Her widower, Robert Wagner, played Number Two in the Austin Powers trilogy which parodies early Bond films.
Was Maureen O'Hara's daughter in two movies, one being the classic Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Natalie referred to Maureen as Mama Maureen till her death in 1981.
Columbia Pictures secured the film rights for the Henry De Vere Stacpoole novel "The Blue Lagoon" in the mid-1950s, with Natalie in the role of Emmeline Lestrange. However, the project was shelved for many years and was not filmed until the late 1970s and the film The Blue Lagoon (1980) ultimately starred Brooke Shields. Colombia bought it for the American remake of Blue Lagoon 1949 starring Jean Simmons. The first edition of the movie was made by an English company in 1923, just after the book was written.
Had she lived, she would have become a first-time grandmother on May 30, 2012 when her elder daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, had a girl named Clover Clementyne Watson. The father is Barry Watson, whom Natasha has since married.
Wood's death certificate was modified to show some of the uncertainties surrounding the actress' death. The document was amended in August 2012 and changed from accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors", according to a copy of the certificate obtained August 21, 2012 by The Associated Press.
Dated California Governor Jerry Brown, writer/director Henry Jaglom, racecar driver (and Jill St. John ex) Lance Reventlow, producers Arthur M. Loew Jr. and Sandy Whitelaw, actors Warren Beatty, Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Dennis Hopper, Tom Irish (when he was 21 and she was 13, though Irish says he didn't know Natalie's age at the time), Richard Johnson, Perry Lopez, Scott Marlowe, Steve McQueen (who had a brief fling with Wood in late 1971, not when they made Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) as one might assume), Martin Milner, David Niven Jr., Robert Vaughn, James Westmoreland, Stuart Whitman, lawyer David Gorton and shoe manufacturer Ladislav Blatnik, to whom she was engaged in 1965. Though much publicity was generated about she and Elvis Presley supposedly being an item in 1956, actually the two only went out for less than a month and by all accounts their relationship was never consummated; according to Faye Michael Nuell, Wood considered Presley a friend rather than a boyfriend. Wood was also escorted by actors Nick Adams, Tab Hunter and Sal Mineo, but it is now generally accepted as fact that these relationships were completely platonic. She lost her virginity to Jimmy Williams, a schoolmate whom she met at age 12 and dated from ages 14 to 15. Much debate continues to exist over whether she had an affair with Christopher Walken, who maintains complete silence on the matter.
She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 1, 1986.
She was posthumously awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California on December 7, 2007.
In 1990, Dennis Hopper told a story on Late Night with David Letterman (1982) of a time when 16-year-old Natalie wanted to have an orgy in a bathtub full of champagne. Natalie and another young girl went up to a cabin in the mountains with Hopper and Nick Adams and filled up the tub with champagne. Natalie wanted to be the first one in. She sat down in the tub and started screaming hysterically because her private parts had been stung. The orgy didn't happen; she had to be rushed to the emergency room.
Had appeared with Jim Backus in four films: Father Was a Fullback (1949), The Rose Bowl Story (1952), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956).
Won consecutive Box Office Blue Ribbon Awards for Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
Admired and wanted to emulate Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor. Leigh was her favorite actress.
Irving Pichel's partners, William Goetz and Leo Spitz, changed her last name to Wood in honor of director Sam Wood. Her first name Natalie was an Americanization of her Russian name.
Co-star and longtime friend Robert Hyatt said of her: "Natalie would get up in the morning and take a Dexie [Dexadryne], then she would have a bowl of chicken noodle soup and white wine for breakfast".
Pulled out of The Mirror Crack'd (1980) due to creative differences.
She was cast as the Russian astrophysicist Dr. Tatiana Donskaya in Meteor (1979) because she spoke fluent Russian.
In November 2013, reports surfaced that Wood became romantically involved with an FBI agent named Donald Wilson in 1973 at an Idaho resort. When they met, Wilson, a Washington D.C. based FBI agent, was on a speaking tour in Idaho on behalf of the FBI and Wood had secluded herself from her husband Robert Wagner following a violent argument between the two. When Wood first met Wilson at the Coeur Alene, Idaho resort in 1973 she was pregnant with the only child she would have with Wagner. It is believed that both Wood and Wilson spent their first night together in Wood's hotel suite following a late night of dinner and dancing. The following morning Wilson was driven to the Spokane, Washington airport by an Idaho state police trooper allowing for Wilson to return to Washington D.C. Wood and Wilson are believed to have continued their carefully secreted love affair which supposedly ended in 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina due to concerns Wood had that public disclosure of their relationship would harm both her film career and Wilson's FBI career. There are unconfirmed rumors that in the late 70s Wood was pregnant with Wilson's child and may have terminated her pregnancy under an assumed name at an unknown medical facility in either Durham or Raleigh, North Carolina.
Her 38-year-old daughter Courtney Wagner was arrested in 2012 for cocaine and heroin possession when police searched her Malibu home after receiving a report of gunshots fired at the house. According to Natalie's sister Lana Wood, Courtney has attempted suicide in the past and for a time was receiving psychiatric care. "My sister would be devastated if she knew how Courtney has ruined her life," said Lana.
None of the living major celebrities who got to know Natalie personally (Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Christopher Walken) will speak about her publicly except as a passing mention. In Wood's episodes of E! True Hollywood Story (1996), Biography (1987) and Too Young to Die (2012), the interviewees are mostly non-famous people.
Spent her last night alive in room 126 at the Pavilion Lodge on Catalina Island with Dennis Davern.
Retired FBI agent Donald Wilson has discussed his four-year affair with Wood in press articles, on social media, and in a filmed interview for National Enquirer Investigates (2016). Wilson claims Wood told him remarrying Robert Wagner was the biggest mistake of her life and she does not know why she did it.
According to Robert Wagner, Nathalie Wood was considered by her own family as a bread winner. She brought money home as an actress since her childhood.
Born on the same date as Diana Rigg.
Her parents were married on February 8, 1938. (Her mother had filed for divorce from her first husband in October 1935 and it was finalized in April 1937.) Why her mother waited until she was four months pregnant with Natalie to get married is a mystery.

Personal Quotes (10)

You get tough in this business, until you get big enough to hire people to get tough for you. Then you can sit back and be a lady.
[in 1961] In so many ways I think it's a bore to be sorry you were a child actor - so many people feel sorry for you automatically. At the time, I wasn't aware of the things I missed, so why should I think of them in retrospect? Everybody misses something or other.
I felt a little funny when we were going to do the bed scene, all four of us, in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969). I'm open to suggestions, I'm no prude, but four is a crowd in my book. Fortunately, Dyan Cannon was there. The thought of another woman being in there in the bed helped get me through it. It's not like it sounds. It's just that I don't think I could have done it if it had been me and three men.
[on being a child actor] I spent practically all my time in the company of adults. I was very withdrawn, very shy, I did what I was told and I tried not to disappoint anybody. I knew I had a duty to perform, and I was trained to follow orders.
[shortly before her death] You know what I want? I want yesterday.
[on dating Elvis Presley when she was 18] Elvis was so square, we'd go... for hot fudge sundaes. He didn't drink, he didn't swear, he didn't even smoke. It was like having the date that I never had in high school.
[in 1980] I've always been terrified, still am, of water -- dark water, sea water, or, you know, river water.
[on Marilyn Monroe] When you look at Marilyn on the screen, you don't want anything bad to happen to her. You really care that she should be all right... happy.
[on remarrying Robert Wagner] Sometimes, it's better to have the devil you know than the devil you don't.
My life has been sort of reversed. I was working when other girls were going to school and when other women were reaching the age when they wanted careers, I was most interested in staying home.

Salary (10)

Dear Brat (1951) $2,333
Just for You (1952) $6,500
Kings Go Forth (1958) $750 per week
Cash McCall (1960) $150,000
All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) $150,000
West Side Story (1961) $250,000
Sex and the Single Girl (1964) $750,000
The Great Race (1965) $7,000 (Director Blake Edwards and co-star Jack Lemmon each gave her half of his respective salary)
Penelope (1966) $750,000
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) $250,000 + 10% of the net profits.

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