Natalia Zacharenko (July 20, 1938 – November 29, 1981), better known as Natalie Wood, was a Russian-American actress most famous for appearing in Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story, for marrying Robert Wagner twice, and sadly, for drowning in mysterious circumstances at the age of 43.First appeared on screen aged four and had a career spanning five decades, from Miracle on 34th Street in 1947 to the posthumously released scifi Brainstorm in 1983. A relatively rare example of a child star who avoided Former Child Star status and became an A-lister in adulthood (Elizabeth Taylor is another).Is the older sister of Bond Girl Lana Wood, and the mother of actress Natasha Gregson Wagner.
Her films include:
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
- The Searchers (1956)
- West Side Story (1961)
- Splendor in the Grass (1961)
- Gypsy (1962)
- Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)
- The Great Race (1965)
- Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
- The Candidate (1972) (cameo)
- Meteor (1979)
- Brainstorm (1983)
Tropes associated with her work include:
- Adorkable: Some of her characters, such as Maria in West Side Story and Louise in Gypsy. Herself in real life as well, if her way of trying to disguise her voice in this appearance on What's My Line? is anything to go by.
- Career Resurrection: After The Searchers, she appeared in a string of failed films. According to Elia Kazan, by 1960, she was considered as "washed up". He still cast her in Splendor in the Grass, which came out in 1961, received critical acclaim and brought Wood her second Oscar nomination. Also in 1961, she starred in West Side Story, which was the biggest hit of the year and won the Oscar for Best Picture. This brought Wood back to the A-list.
- The Cast Showoff: Could speak Russian, as utilised in The Great Race.
- Dawson Casting: Averted in Rebel. She was a teenager at the time. Played straight in Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story and Gypsy.
- Former Child Star: One of few to still have a successful career as an adult.
- Important Haircut: To the character in Splendor.
- Non-Singing Voice: Her singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon in West Side Story, and by Jackie Ward in The Great Race and Inside Daisy Clover. In Gypsy, however, she did her own singing.
- One Head Taller: Was 5'0'' and usually dwarfed by the leading man.
- Photographic Memory: She could easily memorize and deliver her lines, earning her the nickname, "One Take Natalie." Sometimes, she also had to help co-stars with their lines.
- Stage Names: She was born as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her name was later changed to Gurdin, and when she started to appear in movies, Wood.
- Star-Making Role: In Rebel Without a Cause. And the death of James Dean shortly after left her as the sole focus of much of the contemporary fandom.
- What Could Have Been: Opted to stay away from large film roles during the 1970s to raise a family. Brainstorm was supposed to be a 'comeback' role. Also, the stress of finishing the film after her death pushed director Douglas Trumbull away from moviemaking.