Birth NameNatalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko
Height 5' (1.52 m)
(16 July 1972 -
29 November 1981) (her death) (1 child)
(30 May 1969 -
12 April 1972) (divorced) (1 child)
(28 December 1957 -
27 April 1962) (divorced)
Trade Mark (3)
Large brown eyes
Small petite frame
Often played vulnerable characters put through emotional wringers
Sister of Lana Wood. They have a half-sister, Olga Viriapaeff.
Mother of Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner.
Named after director Sam Wood.
Her favorite actress was Vivien Leigh and her favorite singer was Bob Dylan.
She suffered from a deep fear of drowning after having barely survived an accident when she was a little girl, during the filming of The Green Promise (1949). Her fear was so great that Elia Kazan had to lie - promising a double - and trick her into doing the scenes at the water reservoir in Splendor in the Grass (1961).
Following her untimely death, she was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. On her grave, marked Natalie Wood Wagner: Beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother & friend "more than love".
Was commonly listed as 5' 3" wearing heels in movie magazines, though her actual height was 5' 0".
The Harvard Lampoon often singled her out for derision. On Saturday, April 23, 1966, she surprised the Lampoon's staff when she became the first performer they voted the year's worst to show up and accept her citation.
Reportedly turned down Warren Beatty's offer to play opposite him in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) because she did not want to be separated from her analyst while the film was on location in the Midwest.
Splendour, the name of the yacht Wood was on the night she died, was named after her movie Splendor in the Grass (1961).
An accident on a movie set (she fell into a river and almost drowned) when she was 9 years old left her with a permanently weakened left wrist and a slight bone protrusion, which, for the rest of her life, she hid with large bracelets. Regardless of the movie role, or anytime that she was out in public, she always wore a large bracelet on the left wrist.
The rubber dinghy "Prince Valiant" she had allegedly been trying to board after falling from husband Robert Wagner's yacht that fateful Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, was named after Wagner's movie Prince Valiant (1954), a film the actor considered among his worst.
Had planned to produce as well as star in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), but the leading role of Deborah Blake went to Kathleen Quinlan by the time the film was made.
Attended ballet classes as a child with Jill St. John and Stefanie Powers. All three women would go on to have long-term relationships with Robert Wagner.
Pallbearers at her funeral were Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier, Elia Kazan, Gregory Peck, David Niven and Fred Astaire.
Gave birth to her first child at age 32, a daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner on September 29, 1970. Child's father is her second husband, Richard Gregson.
Gave birth to her second child at age 35, a daughter Courtney Wagner on March 9, 1974. Child's father is her third husband, Robert Wagner.
Her death was kismet, as she always cited a fear of water.
Her and co-star Richard Beymer's singing voices were both dubbed in West Side Story (1961). The woman who dubbed Natalie, Marni Nixon, also dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964) and Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956). It was later reported that Wood was disappointed that her singing voice was not use in the movie.
Her paternal grandparents were Stephan Zakharenko and Eudoxie Sauchenko, and her maternal grandparents were Stepan Ilich Zudilov and Maria Andreevna Kuleva. She was of Russian and Ukrainian ancestry. Her father was an architect and her mother was a ballerina. She could do a proper plié before she could barely walk.
Her mother, Maria, claimed that the family was closely related to the Romanov dynasty.
Spoke Russian and English.
Though some people cite her mother as being French, her mother is Russian. The source of this misconception comes from the studio that Natalie worked at when she was a child -- people noticed her mother's accent and when asked if she was French, Maria replied: "Oh yes", a white lie that would contribute to this confusion.
Younger sister Lana Wood made a ABC TV special on Natalie's life, The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004).
Was offered a chance to play Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1974) under the condition that she screen test for the role. She refused to do the screen test and Mia Farrow was given the part.
Turned down Ali MacGraw's breakthrough role in Goodbye, Columbus (1969).
She was cast as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976) quite unexpectedly, without campaigning for the role. Wood explained that when Laurence Olivier would come to Hollywood, she would often be seated with him at the table at formal sit-down dinners. When Olivier decided to make a version of the Tennessee Williams play, he thought of casting Wood, his dinner companion, and her husband, Robert Wagner, in the husband-wife roles of Brick and Maggie. Naturally, they accepted.
Wood knew screenwriter Gavin Lambert as both were intimates of director Randy Suhr. In the early '60s, he wrote a novel about an adolescent Hollywood starlet in the 1930s titled Inside Daisy Clover (1965). After reading the book, Wood telephoned Lambert and said, "I'd kill for that part.". He assured her she was his first choice for the movie, for which he was writing the screenplay. She got the part and Ruth Gordon got her first Oscar nomination as an actress for portraying Daisy's mother.
Both she and her sister Lana Wood have played the love interest of Richard Beymer in two separate films: she as Maria opposite Richard's Tony in West Side Story (1961), and Lana as Karen opposite Richard's Dean in Scream Free! (1969) (aka Free Grass).
She was the inspiration of High School Musical (2006) star Vanessa Hudgens.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 889-890. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
People magazine (USA) named her one of "The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1976" for the January 3, 1977 issue.
Entertainment Weekly placed her on the "100 greatest stars of all time" list, at #70.
Voted one of the top sex stars of the 1970s in Playboy magazine.
Called "The Most Beautiful Teenager in the World" by Life magazine in 1956.
Once interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, before his career took off, for the magazine "Hollywood Reporter" in 1979, two years before her her death. The article was entitled "The Body meets the Face".
Her death was listed at number 24 on E! Television's 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment.
Don Henley wrote the song "Dirty Laundry" to express his outrage at the tabloid press for their treatment of her after her death.
Met Robert Redford while attending Van Nuys High School. Redford was later her leading man in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and This Property Is Condemned (1966). There could have been two more collaborations, had Wood starred in Barefoot in the Park (1967) and The Great Gatsby (1974), both of which she turned down.
"Natalie's Song" by David Pack, was written about Natalie Wood.
"Eyes Like Natalie Wood" by Kathy Fleischmann, was written about her.
Former stepmother of Katie Wagner.
Started smoking at age 16. Gypsy (1962) co-star Morgan Brittany said of Wood, "I never saw her without a cigarette, ever.".
Godmother of her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner was Ruth Gordon, who played Natalie's mother in the film Inside Daisy Clover (1965).
Rehearsals for her stage debut in "Anastasia" were to begin in December 1981.
Her niece was born in August 1974.
She was the subject of the 2001 biography "Natasha" by former attorney Suzanne Finstad. Finstad interviewed nearly 400 people in researching Wood and had the cooperation of her sister, who narrated the audio version. The book is controversial and makes shocking claims regarding the actress's early sex life, complex relationship with Robert Wagner, level of substance abuse and mysterious death.
Had an affair with 43-year-old director Nicholas Ray when she was 16 years old, according to a multitude of publications.
Was the youngest nominee in her category each of the three times she was nominated for an Oscar, the first being when she was 17 and the last when she was 25.
Has multiple connections with the James Bond franchise. Her sister, Lana Wood, had a small role in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), in which Jill St. John (who is married to Wood's widower, Robert Wagner) was the lead Bond girl. Wood co-starred in Meteor (1979) with Sean Connery, who played the James Bond character in seven films, and in Brainstorm (1983), she co-starred with Christopher Walken, who was a Bond villain in A View to a Kill (1985). She also co-starred in From Here to Eternity (1979) with Kim Basinger, who was a Bond girl in Never Say Never Again (1983) opposite Connery. Her widower, Robert Wagner, played Number Two in the Austin Powers trilogy which parodies the early Bond films.
Was Maureen O'Hara's daughter in two movies, one being the classic Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Natalie referred to Maureen as Mama Maureen till her death in 1981.
Columbia Pictures secured the film rights for the Henry De Vere Stacpoole novel "The Blue Lagoon" in the mid-1950s, with Natalie in the role of Emmeline Lestrange. However, the project was shelved for many years and was not filmed until the late 1970s and the film The Blue Lagoon (1980) ultimately starred Brooke Shields. Colombia bought it for the American remake of Blue Lagoon 1949 starring Jean Simmons. The first edition of the movie was made by an English company in 1923, just after the book was written.
Had she lived, she would have become a first-time grandmother on 30 May 2012 when her elder daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, gave birth to a girl named Clover Clementyne Watson.
Wood's death certificate was modified to show some of the uncertainties surrounding the actress' death. The document was amended in August 2012 and changed from accidental drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors", according to a copy of the certificate obtained August 21, 2012 by The Associated Press.
Her longtime friend, actress Hope Lange, delivered a eulogy at her funeral.
She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 1, 1986.
She was posthumously awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on December 7, 2007.
Was friends with Rebel Without a Cause (1955) co-stars Nick Adams and Dennis Hopper.
Had appeared with Jim Backus in four films: Father Was a Fullback (1949), The Rose Bowl Story (1952), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956).
Won consecutive Box Office Blue Ribbon Awards for Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
Admired and wanted to emulate Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor. Leigh was her favorite actress.
Irving Pichel's partners, William Goetz and Leo Spitz, changed her last name to Wood in honor of director Sam Wood. Her first name Natalie was an Americanization of her Russian name.
Co-star and longtime friend Robert Hyatt said of her: "Natalie would get up in the morning and take a Dexie [Dexadryne], then she would have a bowl of chicken noodle soup and white wine for breakfast".
Pulled out of The Mirror Crack'd (1980) due to creative differences.
She was cast as the Russian astrophysicist Dr. Tatiana Donskaya in Meteor (1979) because she spoke fluent Russian.
In 2015, a retired FBI agent named Donald Wilson claimed he had a
four-year affair with Wood starting in 1973. According to Wilson, they
met in Idaho when Wood was pregnant and "taking a break" from husband
Robert Wagner. Wilson said they kept their romance a secret because the
disclosure would harm both Wood's acting career and his FBI work; the
two mutually agreed to stop seeing each other in 1977.