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Natalie Wood Poster

Biography

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Overview (5)

Born in San Francisco, California, USA
Died in Pacific Ocean off Santa Catalina Island, California, USA  (probable drowning and other undetermined factors)
Birth NameNatalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko
Nicknames Nat
Natasha
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Natalie Wood (born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko) was an American actress of Russian descent. She started her career as a child actress and eventually transitioned into teenage roles, young adult roles, and middle-aged roles. As a teenager, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for her role in "Rebel Without a Cause ". As an adult, she was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her roles in Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963). She never won either award. Wood drowned off Catalina Island on November 29, 1981, at age 43.

In 1938, Wood was born in San Francisco to Russian immigrant parents. Her parents were day laborer and carpenter Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko (1912-1980) and housewife Maria Zudilova (1908-1998). Nikolai was born in Vladivostok, son to chocolate-factory worker Stepan Zakharenko. Maria was born in in Barnaul, southern Siberia to industrialist Stepan Zudilov. Natalie's maternal grandfather owned soap and candle factories.

Wood's parents had to migrate due to the Russian Civil War (1917-1923). Her paternal grandfather Stepan Zakharenko joined the anti-Bolshevik civilian forces early in the war. In 1918, Stepan was killed in Vladivostok, involved in a street fight between Red and White Russian soldiers. This convinced the Zakharenko family to migrate to Montreal, Quebec, where they had family. Nikolai later moved to San Francisco, in search of work.

Maria Zudilova, Wood's mother, had unfulfilled ambitions of becoming an actress or ballet dancer. She wanted her daughters to pursue an acting career, and live out her dream. Maria frequently took a young Wood with her to the cinema, where Maria could study the films of Hollywood child stars. The impoverished family could not afford any other acting training to Wood.

The Zakharenko family eventually moved to Santa Rosa, where young Wood was noticed by members of a crew during a film shoot. She got to audition for roles as an actress, and the family moved to Los Angeles to help seek out roles for her. RKO Radio Pictures' executives William Goetz (1903-1969) and David Lewis (1903-1987) chose the stage name "Natalie Wood) for her, The first name was based on her childhood nickname "Natalia", and the last name was in reference to director Sam Wood (1883-1949). Natalia's younger sister Svetlana Gurdin would eventually follow an acting career as well, under the stage name "Lana Wood" (1946-).

Wood made her film debut in the drama "Happy Land" (1943), set in the home front of World War II. She was only 5-years-old, and her scene as the "Little Girl Who Drops Ice Cream Cone" lasted 15 seconds. Wood somehow attracted the interest of film director Irving Pichel (1891-1954) who remained in contact with her family over the next few years.

Wood had few job offers over the following two years, but Pichel helped her get a screen test for a more substantial role in the romance film "Tomorrow Is Forever" (1946). Wood passed through an audition and won the role of Margaret Ludwig, a post-World War II German orphan. At the time, Wood was "unable to cry on cue" for a key scene. So her mother tore a butterfly to pieces in front of her, giving her a reason to cry for the scene.

Wood started appearing regularly in films following this role, and soon received a contract with the film studio 20th Century Fox. Her first major role was that of Susan Walker in the Christmas film "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947), which was a commercial and critical hit. Wood got her first taste of fame, and afterwards Macy's "invited her to appear in the store's annual Thanksgiving Day parade".

Following her early success, Wood receive many more offers to play on films. She typically appeared on family films, cast as the daughter or sister of such protagonists as Fred MacMurray (1908-1991), Margaret Sullavan (1909-1960), James Stewart (1908-1997), Joan Blondell (1906-1979), and Bette Davis (1908-1989). Wood found herself in high demand, and appeared in over twenty films as a child actress.

The California law's of the era required that until reaching adulthood, child actors had to spend at least three hours per day in the classroom, Wood received her primary education on the studio lots, receiving three hours of school lessons whenever she was working on a film. She was reportedly a "straight A student". Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) was quite impressed by Wood's intellect. After school hours ended, Wood would hurry to the set to film her scenes.

While Wood acquired the services of agents, her early career was micromanaged by her mother Maria. An older Wood gained her first major television role in the short-lived sitcom "The Pride of the Family" (1953-1954). At the age of 16, she found more success with the role of Judy in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955). She played the role of a teenage girl who dresses up in racy clothes to attract the attention of a father who typically ignores her. The film's success helped Wood make the transition from child star to an ingenue. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, but the award was instead won by rival actress Jo Van Fleet (1914-1996).

Her next significant film was in the Western film "The Searchers" (1956), playing the role of abduction victim Debbie Edwards, niece of the protagonist Ethan Edwards (played by John Wayne). The film was a commercial and critical hit, and has since been regarded as a masterpiece. The narrative was driven by "the abduction, captivity, and implied rape of Debbie" by the Comanche.

Also in 1956, Wood graduated from Van Nuys High School, with her graduation serving as the end of her school years. She signed a contract with Warner Brothers, where she was kept busy with several new films. To her disappointment, she was typically cast as the "girlfriend" of the protagonist and received roles of little depth. For a while, the studio had her paired up with teenage heartthrob Tab Hunter (1931-2018) as a duo. The studio was hoping that the pairing would serve as a box-office draw, but this did not work out.

One of Wood's only serious roles from this period is the role of the eponymous protagonist in the melodrama "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958), playing a young Jewish girl whose efforts to create her own identity and career path clash with the expectations of her family. As described in Wikipedia: "The central conflict in the film revolves around the traditional models of social behavior and religious behavior expected by New York Jewish families in the 1950s, and Marjorie's desire to follow an unconventional path." The film was a critical success, and fit well with other films exploring the restlessness of youth in the 1950s.

Wood's first major box office flop was the biographical film "All the Fine Young Cannibals" (1960), examining the rags to riches story of jazz musician Chet Baker (1929-1988) without actually using his name. The film's box office earnings barely covered the production costs, and film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer recorded a loss of 1,108,000 dollars. For the first time. Wood's appeal to the audience was in doubt.

With her career in decline following this failure, Wood was seen as "washed up" by many in the film community. But director Elia Kazan (1909-2003) gave her the chance to audition for the role of the sexually-repressed Wilma Dean Loomis in his upcoming film "Splendor in the Grass" (1961). Kazan cast Wood as the female lead, because he found in her (in his words): a "true-blue quality with a wanton side that is held down by social pressure". Kazan is credited for producing Wood's "most powerful moment as an actress". The film was a critical success and Wood for first nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The award was instead won by rival actress Sophia Loren (1934-).

Wood's next important film was "West Side Story" (1961), where she played Maria, a restless Puerto Rican girl. Wood was once again called to represent the restlessness of youth in a film, this time in a story involving youth gangs and juvenile delinquents. The film was a great commercial success with about 44 million dollars in gross, the highest-grossing film of 1961. It was also critically acclaimed, and still regarded among the best films of Wood's career.

Wood's next leading role was in the biographical film "Gypsy" (1962), where she was cast in the role of burlesque entertainer and stripper Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-1970). Film historians credit the film as an even better role for Wood than that of Maria, with witty dialogue , a greater emotional range, and complex characterization. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1962, and well-received critically.

Wood's next significant role was that of Macy's salesclerk Angie Rossini in the comedy-drama "Love with the Proper Stranger" (1963). In the film, Angie has a one-night-stand musician Rocky Papasano (played by Steve McQueen), finds herself pregnant, and desperately seeks an abortion. The film under-performed at the box office, but was critically well received. Wood received her second (and last nomination) for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The Award was instead won by rival actress Patricia Neal (1926-2010). Earning her third Academy at age Academy Award nomination at age 25, Wood was tied with Teresa Wright (1918-2005) as the youngest person to score three Oscar nominations. Wood was the record-holder until 2013, when Jennifer Lawrence (1990-) achieved her third nomination at age 23.

Wood continued her successful film career until 1966, but her health status was not as successful. She was suffering emotionally and had sought professional therapy. She paid Warner Bros. 175,000 dollars to cancel her contract, and was able to retire for a while. She also fired her entire support team: agents, managers, publicist, accountant, and attorneys. She took a three-year hiatus from acting.

Wood made her comeback in the comedy-drama "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1969), with the themes of sexual liberation and wife swapping. It was a box office hit. Wood decided to gamble her 750,000 dollars fee on a percentage of the gross, earning a million dollars over the course of three years.

In 1970, Wood was pregnant with her first child, Natasha Gregson (1970-). She chose to go into semi-retirement to raise the child, appearing in only four more theatrical films before her death. These films were the mystery comedy "Peeper" (1975), the science fiction film "Meteor" (1979), the comedy, and the posthumously-released science fiction film "Brainstorm" (1983).

In the late 1970s, Wood found success in television roles, appearing in several television films and the mini-series "From Here to Eternity" (1980), Her project received high ratings , and she had plans to make her theatrical debut in a 1982 production of "Anastasia".

On November 28, 1981, Wood joined her last husband Robert Wagner (1930-), their friend Christopher Walken (1943-), and captain Dennis Davern on a weekend boat trip to Catalina Island. The four of them were on board Wagner's yacht "Splendour". On the morning of November 29, Wood's corpse was recovered 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the boat, near small Valiant-brand inflatable dinghy beached nearby. The autopsy revealed that she had drowned. Wood was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

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 (4)

Large brown eyes always covered with heavy makeup
Small petite frame
Often played vulnerable characters put through emotional wringers
Relaxed speaking voice

Trivia (109)

Sister of Lana Wood.
She and Lana had a maternal half-sister, Olga Viripaeff (1928-2015), who was born in Harbin, China as Ovsanna Tatuloff. Olga lived her entire adulthood in northern California and was completely removed from the Hollywood scene.
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 didn't 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.
Daughter with Richard Gregson: Natasha Gregson Wagner (born September 29, 1970).
Daughter with Robert Wagner: Courtney Wagner (born March 9, 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 used 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, though he retired while still in his thirties, and her mother claimed to have been a ballerina.
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 given a chance to play Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1974), but only under the condition that she screen test for the role since she hadn't made a movie in five years (and before that, nothing for three years). She refused to do the screen test and did not get the role.
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 failures in the mid-1960s, 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-1970s 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 three 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 1960s, 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 role 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 1955.
Once interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, before his career took off, for the magazine "Hollywood Reporter" in 1979. The article was entitled "The Body Meets the Face". Coincidentally and ironically, the final on-camera interview Natalie gave, on the set of Brainstorm (1983) a few weeks before her death in 1981, was conducted by Arnold's future wife Maria Shriver.
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. They eventually lost touch and Redford was a no show at Natalie's funeral.
"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 front door 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 turned 40.
Godmother of her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner was Ruth Gordon, who played Natalie's mother in the film Inside Daisy Clover (1965).
In 1982, Wood was supposed to make a comeback following a decade and a half of semiretirement. On February 12, she was scheduled to make her stage debut playing the title role in "Anastasia" at the Ahmanson Theatre in L.A. Brainstorm (1983) was slated for release in July, and Timothy Hutton reported that he and Wood had purchased film rights to the Barbara Wersba book "Country of the Heart" and were planning to team in the drama about the professional/romantic relationship of a young writer and a successful novelist who's dying of cancer.
Her niece, Evan Taylor Maldonado (née Smedley) was born August 11, 1974 and died at age 42 from heart failure on July 18, 2017.
Texas lawyer Suzanne Finstad conducted more than 400 interviews for the myth-shattering book "Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood" (2001) and had the cooperation of her sister Lana Wood, who narrates the audio version. It's controversial and makes explosive claims regarding Natalie'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 (more than 20 years) men romantically linked to the underage Wood, according to a multitude of publications, included Raymond Burr, John Ireland and Frank Sinatra. What's baffling is that both Nicholas Ray and Raymond Burr were reportedly gay or bisexual - as were several of the slightly more age appropriate men Wood dated in her teens, such as Nick Adams and Scott Marlowe. According to Suzanne Finstad, Wood was brutally raped by a "powerful, married movie star" in her earlier adolescence and sought safety in the company of non-heterosexuals until she married Robert Wagner at the age of 19.
Had to get her stomach pumped at the hospital following sleeping pill overdoses in June 1961, November 1964 and January 1966. After the third suicide attempt, Wood abandoned her promising career to focus on her mental health and emotional well-being. She was 28 and would appear in just four more films before her death at 43.
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 until her death on November 29, 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. Columbia bought this for the American remake of The 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've become a first-time grandmother on May 30, 2012, when her 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 Lance Reventlow, hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr., producers Arthur M. Loew Jr. and Sandy Whitelaw, actors Warren Beatty, Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Dennis Hopper, Tom Irish (when he was 24 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 (for about 10 days in 1971, not when they made Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) as one might assume), Martin Milner, David Niven Jr., Robert Vaughn, Adam West, James Westmoreland and Stuart Whitman, talent agent David Andrews, 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 platonic. Per Suzanne Finstad's biography, she lost her virginity to Jimmy Williams, a schoolmate whom she met at age 12 and dated from ages 14 to 15. She had kissed at least 47 men by the time she was 30. 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 weekend 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. As she got in the tub, she started screaming hysterically as her private parts were stung. The orgy did not happen, since 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 a glass of white wine for breakfast".
Bowed out of The Mirror Crack'd (1980) due to creative differences. (At 41, she wasn't ready to be seen as "aging" when other actresses her age were still getting sexy parts, though she looked much older than she was at the time.) Elizabeth Taylor took over the role.
She was cast as the Russian astrophysicist Dr. Tatiana Donskaya in Meteor (1979) because she spoke fluent Russian.
In November 2013, reports surfaced that in 1973 Wood had become romantically involved with a Washington, D.C. based FBI agent named Donald Wilson at an Idaho resort. When they met, Wilson 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 1970s, 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 for cocaine and heroin possession in 2012 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. In 2017, at 43 - the same age Natalie was when she died - Courtney was arrested again, this time in Ojai, California for public drunkenness.
For many years, none of the living major celebrities who got to know Natalie personally would 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. The 2020 doc Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020) finally did attract a few big names including Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
Spent her last night alive in room 126 at the Pavilion Lodge in Avalon on Catalina Island with Dennis Davern. According to Davern, nothing sexual went on; Wood simply hated sleeping alone. They stayed up drinking until 4:00 A.M. before going to bed.
Retired FBI agent Donald Wilson has discussed his four-year affair with Wood in tabloid articles, on social media, and in a filmed interview for National Enquirer Investigates (2016). Wilson claims Wood told him that remarrying Robert Wagner was the biggest mistake of her life and she does not know why she did it.
According to Robert Wagner, Natalie 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.
Parents married when her mother was four months pregnant with Natalie. It was her mother's second marriage and her father's first.
Delivered her daughter Courtney Wagner via Caesarean section.
In the 1950s she was known as a "Hollywood Badgirl" along with Janet Leigh & Debbie Reynolds.
Barbara Rush replaced her in The Young Philadelphians (1959) after she had been put on studio suspension for refusing the role.
Director Sydney Pollack credits her with his big break.
Turned down the role of Judith Anderson in The Devil's Disciple (1959) because she didn't want to work with Kirk Douglas for "personal" reasons.
Stepmother of Katie Wagner.
She was considered for Katharine Ross' roles in The Graduate (1967) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
Was replaced by Suzanne Pleshette for the lead in Rome Adventure (1962). Wood withdrew from the film due to a nervous breakdown in the wake of her split from Robert Wagner, ODing on pills and falling into a coma. It had nothing to do with getting a tonsillectomy, as has been wrongly reported.
Told a reporter from Ladies Home Journal in 1978 that she regularly took the barbiturate Seconal to go to sleep at night. According to biographer Suzanne Finstad, sleeping pills had been part of Wood's bedtime routine since she was 15. Wood was taking at least eight prescription drugs, including the painkiller Darvon, at the time of her death.
She was considered for the role of Lacey Lynnton in Giant (1956).
Both her husbands were 8 years older than she, and both have lived more than twice as long as she did.
Both she and her sister Lana Wood had abortions. Lana had one in Tijuana in 1963 at age 17 (mentioned in her 1984 memoir), and Natalie had one in North Carolina in 1977 at age 39 (revealed by informed sources via a 2013 press release that was picked up by the tabloids but not mainstream media). Their mother, Maria Zudilov, claimed to have undergone several abortions as a teenager in the 1920s, and had a miscarriage in 1932.
At the time of her death she was in the early stages of planning to redivorce Wagner, according to her sister and at least two other people who knew her. Their first marriage ended in June 1961 when Wood "found him in a compromising position with another man" according to Suzanne Finstad's book, which came out in 2001. (Through representatives, Wagner denies the incident and the claim was excised from the UK version.) 17 years after its original publication, the allegation received renewed publicity thanks to Dylan Howard's podcast series "Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood" (2018). The claim was finally spoken out loud on network television during a September 14, 2018 Dr. Phil (2002) segment featuring Lana Wood, Dennis Davern and Marti Rulli. For decades, it was uncontestedly reported that Wood's so-called "affair" (actually a red carpet official, public relationship) with Warren Beatty had been the cause of her first divorce from Wagner, but friends of the actress say Wood idly allowed gossip magazines to print that rubbish story in order to help Wagner save face over his bisexuality, which would've ruined his career if it became public knowledge back then.
Daughter of Maria Gurdin and Nick Gurdin. Maria by all accounts was an eccentric notorious for her discrepancies and contradictions. Though born in 1908, she put 1912 on official documents because she didn't want anyone to know she was older than Nick.
Lobbied hard for the part of Beth Jarrett in Ordinary People (1980) and the title role in Sophie's Choice (1982), but lost out to Mary Tyler Moore and Meryl Streep, respectively.
Co-starred with Tony Curtis in three films: Kings Go Forth (1958), Sex and the Single Girl (1964) and The Great Race (1965). In his 2008 memoir "American Prince," Curtis claimed to have had an affair with her.
Turned down A Summer Place (1959), The Miracle (1959), This Earth Is Mine (1959), Lisa (1962), Term of Trial (1962), The Collector (1965), The Towering Inferno (1974) and The Other Side of the Mountain (1975).
Longtime hairdresser Sugar Blymyer said that when Natalie was filming, she'd never have more than one glass of wine at night because it would show up the next day on camera. But makeup artist Ron Snyder said Wood was always drinking margaritas in her trailer at the end of the day while making The Last Married Couple in America (1980).
She drove a Mercedes.
Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced that Robert Wagner has been named a "Person of Interest" in the death of Natalie Wood. [February 2018]
It is often incorrectly stated that Wood was Jewish. She was raised as a Russian Orthodox Christian and remained in the church.
When Natalie Wood died in 1981, there was almost no explanation given to the public and alarmingly subdued media coverage. It's the tabloids that have kept the case in the news all these years.
Burned all of Warren Beatty's clothes when she found out he'd been sleeping around.
Besides her niece Evan Maldonado, she had three half-nephews: Alexis Viripaeff Jr. (b. 1950), Dimitri Viripaeff (b. 1952) and Michael Viripaeff (1958-2005).
She has appeared in four films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Searchers (1956) and West Side Story (1961).
On August 22, 2020, she was honored with a day of her filmography during the Turner Classic Movies Summer Under the Stars.
Natalie recorded all the songs she would sing in the film West Side Storyand was told that only some of her higher notes would be dubbed but eventually they were all dubbed by Marnie Nixon.
One of the major reasons that Wood's death was considered suspicious by the police, were the recent bruises found on her corpse. Forensic pathologist Michael Hunter speculated that Wood was particularly susceptible to bruising, because she had taken the drug Synthroid (levothyroxine).
In the 2010s investigation of Natalie Wood's death, Christopher Walken co-operated with the authorities. He was one of the last persons to see her alive, but he was not considered a suspect by authorities.
In the 2010s, police considered Wood's last husband Robert Wagner to be a "person of interest" in the case of her death. This due to Dennis Davern's claims that her death followed an argument between husband and wife. Wood was reportedly flirting with their friend Christopher Walken, and Wagner was jealous and enraged.
According to captain Dennis Davern, he and Robert Wagner were aware that Natallie Wood had gone missing. Wagner had reportedly prevented Davern from turning on the search lights and notifying authorities after Wood's disappearance.
Natalie Wood had traveled on the yacht "Splendour" at the night of her death. In the 21st century, the Splendour was stationed for 20 years in the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, near Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii. By 2020, the yacht was in very poor condition, and the owners had accrued 12,000 dollars in fees for its illegal mooring. In January 2020, the yacht was dismantled and demolished.
The coroner who examined Natalie Wood's corpse was Thomas Noguchi. In 2020, a former volunteer intern at the L.A. Coroner's Office, Michael Franco, accused Noguchi of a cover-up. According Dr. Franco, the substantial bruising on Wood's body was consistent with "someone who gets thrown out of a boat". Yet, Noguchi had refused to include this conclusion in his report.
No explanation has ever been given why Georgianne Walken did not accompany her husband on the 1981 Thanksgiving weekend boating trip to Catalina with Wood and Wagner.
Arkansas criminal law litigator Sam Perroni has written a book about Wood's death called "Cover-Up." On January 14, 2021, Perroni filed a legal action in L.A. Superior Court against the L.A.S.D. and Sheriff Alex Villanueva, seeking the judge's order to turn over confidential sheriff records, which the department to date has refused to share.

Personal Quotes (14)

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 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 Elvis Presley] There was nothing serious between Elvis and me, nothing at all.
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.
If it weren't for analysis, I'd probably be dead.
[on marijuana] We've tried it here and there. Definitely I think one's own senses are much preferable, and everything is more heightened when you have a natural sense of yourself. I mean there's nothing more terrific than the feeling of your own emotions and everything being really alert, not dulled by some weed or pill.
I think there's a big difference between taking one Seconal at night to go to sleep, and abusing drugs. I mean, first of all, it was prescribed for me by my doctor. And I never took more than that. I've never been on drugs in my life.
I hate the ocean, I hate the water. I can't swim and I don't like to be around it.

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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