Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko (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:
- Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
- The Ghost & 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.
- Former Child Star: One of few to still have a successful career as an adult.
- Important Haircut: To the character in Splendor.
- 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.
- Stage Mom: Her mother, who took this to Abusive Parents territory. This included controlling every aspect of Natalie's life, ripping the wings of a butterfly before an audition to make her cry, refusing to call a doctor when Natalie broke her wrist on-set (which resulted in her wrist healing crooked) and not reporting it to the police when Natalie was raped by a Hollywood A-lister because she thought it would make people not want to hire her for more roles.note