Natalie Wood, as Helen Gurley Brown in Sex and the Single Girl (1964).
Natalie Wood on Wikipedia
Natalie Wood on the Internet Movie Database
Natalie Wood
Forecourt Ceremony held on Tuesday, December 5, 1961
Born: Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California
Age at the time of the ceremony: 23
Died: November 29, 1981, at Santa Catalina Island, California, age 43.
Natalie Wood was one of the most compelling actresses to appear in post-war Hollywood, first as a child actor, and later, as a beautiful young woman in epoch-making films. She died tragically young.

Natalia's father, Nikolai, was a Ukranian, who had immigrated with his family as a child to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and later as an adult, moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a carpenter. Her mother, Maria, was born in Siberia, Russia. After the Revolution, her family moved to Harbin, China, where she would eventually marry and have a child, Olga. The marriage did not last, with Maria and Olga relocating to San Francisco, where Maria met amd married Nikolai, with Natalia coming along in 1938.

Maria had an interest in showbiz, so she often took Natalia to the movies — especially those with child stars in them — which became her only professional training. When the family relocated to Santa Rosa, California, north of San Francisco, a film company shooting a picture in the town gave Natalia a part in the film — she drops an ice cream cone in Don Ameche's drugstore. The director of Happy Land (released in November, 1943), Irving Pichel, put Nalaie in his next film, The Moon Is Down (released in March, 1943), with 20th Century-Fox studio offering Natalie a contract.

Relocating to Los Angeles, Pichel put Natalie in his next film, Tomorrow Is Forever (released in Janaury, 1946), and his next after that over at Paramount, The Bride Wore Boots (released in May, 1946). Back at Fox, Wood played Gene Tierney's daughter Anna (as a young girl) in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (which played the Chinese in July, 1947). Her best-known role as a child came with Miracle on 34th Street (played the Chinese in July, 1947).

During her child-acting days, Wood found herself in many families: as June Haver's sister in Scudda Hoo! Scudday Hay! (which played the Chinese in April, 1948), Dan Daily and Celeste Holm's daughter in Chicken Every Sunday (played the Chinese in February, 1949), Irene Dunne and Fred MacMurray's daughter in Never a Dull Moment (released in August, 1950), and even Bette Davis' daughter in The Star (played the Chinese in March, 1952).

During her adolescence, Wood moved into television as well, playing Paul Hartman and Fay Wray's daughter in the sitcom The Pride of the Family aired over ABC in 1953-1954. Wood carpet-bombed director Nicholas Ray to cast her with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (released in October, 1955), which showcased her in these years to great advantage. She also had a pivotal role in director John Ford's western The Searchers (released in May, 1956). In 1957, she married actor Robert Wagner, but they would divorce in 1962.

Now at Warner Bros., the studio placed her in a number of banal films, some with Tab Hunter, hoping the duo would become a box-office draw, but this did not happen. Wanting to make the transistion to adult roles, she played a college student in Marjorie Morningstar (released in April, 1958), but All the Fine Young Cannibals (released in September, 1960), flopped.

Fascinated by Elia Kazan and "the method," but not trained in the technique, Wood got the female lead in the director's Splendor in the Grass (released in October, 1961), with Warren Beatty. Kazan elicited a emotionally powerful performance from Wood, who was now a hot commodity.

Cast as Maria in the film version of the Broadway musical smash-hit West Side Story (which played the Chinese for a record-breaking 57 weeks, from December, 1961 to January, 1963), the buzz about both the film, and Wood's performance in it, brought her to the Chinese Forecourt just before the film's Hollywood premiere, accompanied by her mother, Maria.

Although Wood's vocals in West Side were dubbed, she did them herself in Gypsy (released in November, 1962), then did what could be called a romantic comedy with Steve McQueen, Love with a Proper Stranger (released in December, 1963). After playing Helen Gurley Brown in Sex and the Single Girl (released in December, 1964), she struggled to get through filming The Great Race (released in July, 1965). She then bounced back with Inside Daisy Clover (released in December, 1965). Wood starred in an adaptation of a Tennessee William's play, This Property Is Condemned (released in June, 1966), after which, she suffered a professional crisis, staying away from the cameras for three years.

Her return in the comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (released in September, 1969), made a considerable hit, but after remarrying and the birth of a child Natasha, Wood brought her filmmaking activies to a near-halt. Divorcing Natasha's father in 1972, Wood remarried Robert Wagner that year then starred with him in a television movie, The Affair, aired over ABC in November, 1963. She, Wagner, and Laurence Olivier would star in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, aired over NBC in December, 1976. She also played Karen in a remake of From Here to Eternity aired over NBC in February, 1979. She had a huge role in The Cracker Factory, airing over ABC, in March, 1979.

Wood became adept at turning down scripts in the early 1970s Hollywood. She did one disaster film, Meteor (released in October, 1979), with Sean Connery, as well as The Last Married Couple in America (which played the Chinese in February, 1980) with George Segal.

In 1981, Wood began working on the science-fiction film Brainstorm, but during a weekend trip to Catalina Island with Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken on their yacht Splendor, Wood's body was found floating in a cove. No one had any idea of how she entered the water. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning and hypothermia. She was 43 years old.

With re-writing, and filming doubles for Wood's unfinished scenes, Brainstorm (released in September, 1983), was dedicated to Natalie Wood.
Caption TK
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Doris Day Forecourt ceremony, Thursday, January 19, 1961. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president Carl H. Anderson helps Doris Day as she smiles for the cameras, while National Theatres honcho Roy Evans glums along.
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