Provocative and ever the temptress in her prime, the dark-maned, gorgeous-looking Lana Wood was born Svetlana Gurdin in Santa Monica, California, the younger daughter of Nicholas Zacharaenko, a Russian émigré who changed the family surname to Gurdin before Lana was born. Both her parents' families fled their Russian homeland following the communist takeover and the couple met and married in San Francisco. Lana's more famous acting sister was christened Natalia eight years earlier and the third girl in the family was a half-sister named Olga, her mother's child.
Young Natalia (renamed Natalie Wood, out of respect to director Sam Wood) became a child star in the late 1940s with such movie classics as Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and younger sis Lana would inevitably be drawn into pictures as a result of Natalie's overwhelming success. She made her "debut" as a baby in Natalie's "B" film Driftwood (1947) only to have her cute bit excised from the picture. Her first screen credit actually came with the John Ford classic The Searchers (1956) as a younger version of Natalie's character, and she was off and running.
In an effort to break away from her sister's looming shadow and find her own place in Hollywood, Lana set out to secure TV roles and did quite well on such popular programs as "Playhouse 90" (1956), "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1957), "Dr. Kildare" (1961) and "The Fugitive" (1963), while continuing her minor appearances in such films as Marjorie Morningstar (1958) (again with Natalie), Five Finger Exercise (1962) and the The Girls on the Beach (1965). In 1965, she earned a contract at Twentieth Century-Fox and was cast in her first television series "The Long, Hot Summer" (1965), playing the Lee Remick Southern belle role from the 1958 movie version. Better yet was her 1966 breakthrough role as hash-slinging waitress "Sandy Webber" on the original prime-time soap opera smash "Peyton Place" (1964) for two seasons. Unlike the glamorous and refined Natalie, Lana developed an earthier "bad girl" persona. Her character femmes bore typical hard-luck stories -- tarnished girls from the wrong side of the tracks who were often more trouble than they were worth. Off-screen, she married "Peyton Place" (1964) co-star Steve Oliver, who played her abusive husband and jailbird "Lee Webber". The marriage lasted approximately one month.
After "Peyton Place" (1964), Lana continued to exude sex appeal in such films as For Singles Only (1968) and Scream Free! (1969), a drug tale that reunited Natalie's West Side Story (1961) co-stars Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn. She kept her name alive on TV, as well, making the guest rounds on "The Wild Wild West" (1965), "Bonanza" (1959), "Felony Squad" (1966) and "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1967).
In April 1971, the bosomy Lana posed for Playboy in an attempt to gain added exposure. It worked. A major career boost unveiled itself in the form of producer Albert R. Broccoli (nicknamed "Cubby") who caught the spread and offered her the role of Bondian femme fatale "Plenty O'Toole" in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) opposite Sean Connery. Following all this sexy publicity, Lana somehow nabbed an unexpected role in the Disney romp Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1972).
Although she stayed fairly active throughout the next decade or so with such TV movies as Black Water Gold (1970) (TV), "QB VII" (1974) and Nightmare in Badham County (1976) (TV), and the films Grayeagle (1977) and Satan's Mistress (1982), her star began to diminish. Marriages during the 1970s included a union with actor/co-star Richard Smedley, whom she met on the set of A Place Called Today (1972). They produced her only child, daughter Evan, in 1974. She also met and married producer Allan Balter after meeting him during the filming of Captain America (1979) (TV). In the mid-1980s, she appeared for a time on the daytime soap opera "Capitol" (1982) but made a decided move away from the acting arena after this period.
Following the tragic drowning death of sister Natalie in 1981, Lana penned the controversial tell-all book "Natalie, A Memoir by Her Sister". What was meant as a candid, caring and cathartic expose on Lana's part was denounced by both critics and family, alike, as self-serving and hurtful. Later years included behind-the-camera work as a producer which included co-producing the ABC-TV special The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004) (TV). She also had her own casting company at one point. A devoted animal lover, the still- stunning five-times married actress occasionally appears at celebrity conventions.
|Allan Balter||(1978 - 1981) (divorced)|
|Richard Smedley||(1 March 1973 - 23 March 1975) (divorced) 1 child|
|Dr. Stanley William Vogel||(19 April 1968 - 14 October 1968) (divorced)|
|Steve Oliver||(1967 - 1967) (divorced)|
|Karl Brent||(1965 - 1966) (divorced)|
|Jack Wrather Jr.||(1962 - 1962) (annulled)|
Aunt of Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner, and former sister-in-law of Richard Gregson and Robert Wagner. Wagner cut off contact with Lana after the drowning of Natalie Wood in 1981. The controversy of her sister's death has intensified since the 2012 official actions of the Los Angeles Coroner's Office in changing the manner of Natalie's death, on her death certificate, from "Accidental" to "Undetermined" because of the quantity and severity of the bruises described in the autopsy report. The investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is ongoing.
Her parents were Russian immigrants.
Her father changed the family's last name to Gurdin before she was born, which is why her sister Natalie Wood carried the original family last name Zackharenko at birth while Lana herself carried the new last name.
Has a daughter, Evan Taylor Moldano (born August 11, 1974), with former husband Richard Smedley. Evan has been married since 1994 to Edward Moldano and they have three children - Nicholas (born 1998), Daphne (born 2000) and Max (born 2002).
Best known for playing Bond girl Plenty O'Toole, the unfortunate casino gal who, half naked, gets thrown out of a hotel window and lands in a pool in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). She was 25 then.
Two of Lana's scenes as Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) were deleted from the final film but are now available on DVD. The first scene is a deleted scene of Lana having dinner with Sean Connery. The second scene took place after Lana was thrown half naked into the pool; she returned to James Bond's apartment, soaking wet, wearing nothing but a white towel and to get the rest of her clothes and see what has become of Bond and sees him making love to Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). Before leaving, an agitated Lana took a card out of Tiffany's purse with her address on it; this second scene accounted for her death later in the film.
In two of her films her character is prominently featured being sent out of a window. In The Searchers (1956), where she played the younger version of her older sister Natalie's character, she is sent out of a window and told to hide from the Indians who are coming to attack their range. In Diamonds Are Forever (1971) her character, Plenty O'Toole, is thrown half naked out of a hotel window to almost certain death (but survives by landing in the pool).
She and sister Natalie Wood have played the love interest of Richard Beymer: she as Karen opposite Richard's Dean in Scream Free! (1969) (aka Free Grass), and Natalie as Maria opposite Richard's Tony in West Side Story (1961).
Lana Wood and her grandson, Max, were featured characters in Steve Alten's novel, "Meg: Hell's Aquarium". In the novel, Lana Wood was approached by an animal rights group called R.A.W. (Release of Animals to the Wild) to help facilitate the release of megalodons raised in captivity back into the ocean.
[on being thrown half naked into the pool in Diamonds Are Forever (1971)] I was told that I was going to be thrown in basically naked, but they told me not to worry because they were going to be doing it in the middle of the night. And it's Las Vegas! Half the world's up in the middle of the night! There were all these people trying to get a look at me from their windows!
(January 2003) Producing film on Natalie's life for ABC. Filming in Australia. The movie is The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004) (TV).
(May 2009) Attended the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan.
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