Lana Wood Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (6)  | Trivia (20)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Santa Monica, California, USA
Birth NameSvetlana Nikolaevna Gurdin
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Provocative and ever the temptress in her prime, the dark-maned, gorgeous Lana Wood was born Svetlana Gurdin in Santa Monica, California, the younger daughter of Nikolai Stephanovich Zakharenko and Maria Stepanovna Zudilova, émigrés of Ukrainian and Russian descent. Barely speaking comprehensible English, they subsequently changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming US citizens. 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 classics as Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and younger sis Lana would inevitably be drawn into films 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 cut 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 Southern belle role Lee Remick had played in the 1958 film (The Long, Hot Summer (1958)). Better yet was her 1966 breakthrough role as hash-slinging waitress "Sandy Webber" on the original prime-time soap opera smash Peyton Place (1964), which she played 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), The Felony Squad (1966) and 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 presented 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), QB VII (1974) and Nightmare in Badham County (1976), 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 married producer Allan Balter after meeting him during the filming of Captain America (1979). In the mid-'80s 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). She also had her own casting company at one point.

A devoted animal lover, the still-stunning, five-times-married Lana occasionally appears at celebrity conventions and more recently returned to films and TV after nearly a two-decade absence.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (6)

Allan Balter (20 October 1979 - 1980) ( divorced)
Richard Smedley (12 March 1972 - 1976) ( 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)

Trivia (20)

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 paternal grandparents were Stephan Zakharenko and Eudoxie Sauchenko, and her maternal grandparents were Stepan Ilich Zudilov and Maria Andreevna Kuleva. She was of Ukrainian and Russian descent. Her father was an architect and her mother was a ballerina.
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.
Mother of Evan Taylor Maldonado (August 11, 1974 - July 18, 2017) with former husband Richard Smedley. Evan had been married to Edward Maldonado since 1994 and they had three children: Nicholas (b. 1998), Daphne (b. 2000) and Max (b. 2005).
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.
Said that she had to stand on a box during most of her scenes with Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) because even with high heels she was too short to fit into the camera frame with him.
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).
In July 2007, she was a guest at the Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina along with Betty Lynn, Jacqueline Scott, Lynn Borden, Joyce Meadows, Brett Halsey, Rick Lenz and Robert Dix.
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.
Attended the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan. [May 2009]
Producing film on Natalie's life for ABC. Filming in Australia. The movie is The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004). [January 2003]
When Diamonds Are Forever (1971) aired on ABC the network had the scene where Lana, as Plenty O'Toole, walked around wearing nothing but a flimsy pair of see-through pink panties artificially altered to make it appear as though she were wearing a black bra with black panties.
Turned down the Karen Black role in Easy Rider (1969).
Had long-term relationship with Alan Feinstein beginning in 1980.
Is a certified scuba diver.
Her daughter Evan passed away from heart failure at age 42. [July 2017]
In an episode of The Dr. Oz Show: True Crime Exclusive: Breaking News: Natalie Wood's Sister Speaks Out (2018), Lana revealed that she was blacklisted after Natalie's death. [February 2018]

Personal Quotes (1)

[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!

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