Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood


Natalie Wood
Film: South side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Natasha Gurdin on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, CA
Died Nov. 29, 1981 of drowning in Catalina Island, Calif.

Natalie Wood was a child actress who transitioned her early fame into a long and successful acting career.

Wood's first film role, at the age of 4, was in "Happy Land" for 20th Century Fox. Her mother was working for the studio, and Wood landed a silent bit role in the movie dropping an ice cream cone and bursting into tears. The director remembered her and called her two years later for a role in "Tomorrow Is Forever" with Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert.

By the mid-1950s she was entering what would—for most child actors—have been the "awkward age" verging on young adulthood. But the awkwardness seemed to miss Wood.

In 1955 Warner Bros. cast her opposite James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause," and she was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar. Her next few pictures, "The Searchers," "A Cry in the Night," "The Burning Hills" and "The Girl Left Behind," were of a type—thin script, uninspired characterization—that were to plague her throughout her career.

In 1957 she was chosen, over such competition as Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, for the lead in "Marjorie Morningstar." In 1961 she made "West Side Story" for United Artists and "Splendor in the Grass" for Warners. She won her second Oscar nomination for "Splendor."

Wood was paired with actor Robert Wagner in several films and the two began dating. They married in 1956, divorced in 1965, and remarried in 1972.

She continued to get parts in films such as "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," "Peeper," "The Last Married Couple in America" and "Meteor." She also did several TV movies, receiving an Emmy nomination. The last film she worked on was "Brainstorm," an MGM production that was nearly complete when she died in a drowning accident.

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1955 Best Supporting Actress Rebel Without a Cause Nomination
    1961 Best Actress Splendor in the Grass Nomination
    1963 Best Actress Love With the Proper Stranger Nomination

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