NATALIE WOOD BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Natalie Wood was born to Russian parents who immigrated to the United States. She was born with the birth name, Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko on July 20th, 1938 in San Francisco, CA. Her father, Nikolai Gurdin was an architect and set designer and her mother, Maria Gurdin was a ballet dancer. Wood was raised for her early childhood in Santa Rosa, California.
She was very introduced to the entertainment industry when at age four, her mother took her to a film audition to work as an extra. Wood got cast in a small part in the film, "Happy Land" (1943) starring Don Ameche, Frances Dee, Ann Rutherford and Harry Carey. After Wood landed this role, her mother decided that Wood had a talent they should pursue. She decided to move the family to Hollywood and give acting a try for her daughter.
Wood's first role for which she received a credit for was on, "Tomorrow is Forever" (1946) starring Claudette Colbert, George Brent, Richard Long and Orson Welles and it was at this time that she was also given the stage name Natalie Wood. After her appearance her career was off to a quick start. She was then cast in two more roles on, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947) starring Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison and George Sanders and "Miracle on 34th Street (1947) starring John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, William Frawley, Gene Lockhart, Edmund Gween (who won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Kris Kringle) and Porter Hall, a holiday classic and her most popular film as a childhood actress.
As a child Wood continued to become quite popular and desired. By the age of sixteen she had already worked on about twenty films. Wood wanted to try and break into acting as an adult and to get away from her childhood image she took a role on, "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) starring alongside James Dean, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Nick Adams and William Hopper, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and was a good move for her career.
1956 brought about a role Natalie performed as a hostage abducted by the Camanches in a film which is considered by many, including the American Film Institute (AFI), to be the best western ever starring John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Walter Coy, Harry Carey Jr., Vera Miles, John Qualen, Ken Curtis and Patrick Wayne.
Wood also began dating the director of the film, Nicholas Ray who was twenty five years older then her. She then met the actor, Robert Wagner and after a year of dating him, she married at the age of nineteen on December 28th, 1957. Wood's acting career as an adult actress was just as successful as her childhood years. She received many more roles on films such as, "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958) and "Splendor in the Grass" (1961) starring with Warren Beatty and Pat Hingle, which earned her a second Academy Award nomination.
Wood was not only a beautiful woman but she was also showing the critics what a talented actress she was. She was cast next in, "West Side Story" (1961) co-starring Rita Moreno, Richard Beymer, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn, "Gypsy" (1962) and "Love with the Proper Stranger" (1963) co-starring Steve McQueen, Edie Adams and Herschel Bernardi, where again she earned her third Academy Award nomination.
Her career was at an all time high, but the stress of holding together a marriage and successful career proved to be too much. She also had heard that her husband, Wagner, had been unfaithful to her, therefore, she filed for divorce in 1962.
Her films in the mid 60's were not as successful such as, "Inside Daisy Clover" (1965) and "This Property is Condemned" (1966), therefore, Wood went into a major state of depression. In 1966, she overdoes on sleeping pills and was admitted to a hospital, but survived the incident.
Determined to make a comeback, Wood took a role on, "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1969) which was a huge success. She also began a relationship with an English Producer and theatrical agent, Richard Gregson. The couple married on, May 30th, 1969 and in 1970, Wood had a daughter, Natasha. However, by 1971, Wood was filing for divorce again after hearing that her husband was having an affair on her.
Wood actually turned to her ex husband, Wagner for consoling and they decided to give their marriage a second try. They were married on July 16th, 1972 and together they had a child, another daughter for Wood, Courtney, born in 1974.
She continued to work as an actress but also put more effort into being a good mom to both her daughters. She had the chance to work with her current husband on, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1976) which was a television version of the stage play.
Wood continued to work as an actress and was cast in a number of films, however her career was never as successful as it was in her earlier years. Wood did however earn a Golden Globe Award for her role on, "From Here to Eternity", which was on television and she followed with a film role which co starred Sean Connery in, "Meteor" (1979).
Wood's final film role was on, "The Last Married Couple in America" (1980) which was not well received. Natalie began working on another film, "Brainstorm" (1983) but before the film's completion, she took a vacation with her husband Wagner to Catalina Island and sadly went missing.
Wood's body was found floating off shore still in her bathrobe. It is not known for sure if any fowl play was involved, as she was intoxicated and not a very good swimmer. It is said that Wood slipped off the boat when trying to board a dingy, however, no one will ever know for sure. Her official date of death was, November 29th, 1981.
Natalie wood was laid to rest in Westwood Memorial Cemetery. The "Brainstorm" film was still completed by using a stand-in and changing the ending. The film was released in 1983 and was dedicated to Wood.
1980 Willie & Phil
1979 From Here to Eternity
1979 The Last Married Couple in America
1973 The Affair
1972 The Candidate
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
1966 Inside Daisy Clover
1966 This Property Is Condemned
1965 The Great Race
1964 Sex and the Single Girl
1963 Love With the Proper Stranger
1961 Splendor in the Grass
1961 West Side Story
1960 All the Fine Young Cannibals
1960 Cash McCall
1958 Kings Go Forth
1958 Marjorie Morningstar
1957 Bombers B-52
1956 A Cry in the Night
1956 The Burning Hills
1956 The Girl He Left Behind
1956 The Searchers
1955 One Desire
1955 Rebel Without a Cause
1955 The Wild Bunch
1954 The Silver Chalice
1953 I'm a Fool
1952 Just for You
1952 The Rose Bowl Story
1950 Never a Dull Moment
1950 Our Very Own
1949 Father Was a Fullback
1949 Green Promise
1947 Miracle on 34th Street
1946 Tomorrow Is Forever