Natalie Wood Biography

Biography by Published on Updated on 13 May, 2018
Facts of Natalie Wood
Date of Birth: 1938 , July-20
Date of Death: 1981 , 11-29
Age: 81 years old
Birth Nation: United States of America
Height: 5 Feet
Name Natalia Wood
Birth Name Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko
Nick Name Nat Natasha
Father Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko
Mother Maria Stepanovna
Nationality American
Birth Place/City San Francisco, California
Ethnicity mixed ethnical background
Profession Acting
Working For Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Searchers, and West Side Story
Net Worth $6 million
Famous for Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and West Side Story.
Movies Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Searchers, and West Side Story.
View more / View Less Facts of Natalie Wood

The successful film and television actress Natalie Wood gained critical acclaim in a short period of time after landing her iconic role in one of the most successful movies of her life Miracle on 34th Street at the tender age of eight. She gained further praise when she started showing her widening range of acting styles whilst appearing in several other movies like Rebel Without a Cause and Miracle on 34th Street. Throughout her successful acting career, she also gained much recognition as well as won several prestigious accolades. Not only her breakout performances in the movie, she also attracted much media coverage for her personal life especially when she married actor Robert Wanger twice.  

Early Life and Education of Natalie Wood 

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California to the Russian immigrant parents Maria Stepanovna and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko. Her parents were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent. Her mother was an aspiring actress while her father was a day laborer and carpenter. 

The actress belongs to American nationality and regarding her ethnicity, Wood has a mixed ethnical background. As a child, Wood's mother had a dream of becoming an actress or ballet dancer. She even attended ballet classes. Her mother encouraged and helped her to pursue her career in the Hollywood industry. Her sister Svetlana Gurdin was also an actress. 

Natalie Wood's Professional Career 

Natalie Wood landed her first film role, in a fifteen-second scene in the movie Happy Land in 1943. At such a tender age, she caught the attention of the director Irving Pichel for her remarkable performance in the movie.  The director brought her to Los Angeles for a screen test.  

After landing several minor roles, Wood made her big screen debut appearing as an orphan in the 1936 movie Tomorrow Is Forever which grossed $3,250,000 worldwide at the box office against its producing cost $1.3 million at that time.

She reached the peak of her career and won over fans with her first featuring role in the film Miracle on 34th Street after she signed up with 20th Century Fox studio for the role in the movie. For her iconic role in the movie, she also became one of the top child artists in the Hollywood. 

CAPTION: Natalie Wood is a former actress. SOURCE: Famous Biographies

After playing in more than 20 movies as a child, Wood earned her formal education in the studio. She landed her first major ingenue role at the age of 16 in the groundbreaking depiction of teenage rebellion in Rebel Without a Cause playing the girlfriend of a troubled outsider portrayed by James Dean. For her brilliant performance in the movie, she also earned an Academy Award nomination. 

As an actress under contract, Wood made her another biggest breakthrough in 1956 featuring film The Searchers and shared the screen alongside John Wayne. By the same year, she also graduated from Van Nuys High School. 

Wood showed her widening range of acting styles after she performed in  Rebel Without a Cause, The Searchers, and Marjorie Morningstar. She lost momentum after she made her appearance in the super box office flop movie All the Fine Young Cannibals in the year 1960. After series of bad films, she made her come back playing the major role opposite Warren Beatty, in the 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass.

For her work in the movie, Wood got a nomination for several prestigious accolades including Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and BAFTA Award under the category Best Actress in a Leading Role. By the same year, she appeared in a spin-off of Shakespeare’s Classic Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story.

The movie turned out to be the instant hit at the box office and received critical success making more than $43.7 million worldwide whereas its budget was just $6 million. Her role was Maria in the movie who falls in love with a boy who came from the remote area of the city. And the film is still regarded as one of her successful and best films. 

Despite her numerous commercially profitable movies, once upon a time of her acting, Wood also received several criticisms as she was gained the Worst Actress of the Year Award by The Harvard Lampoon. She also became the first ever performer in the award's history to accept it in person. 

Some of her 1960s movies were Gypsy, Love with the Proper Stranger, The Great Race, Inside Daisy Clover, This Property Is Condemned, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and among others.

Due to the pregnancy with her first child Wood took semi-retirement from her career. She reunited for the third time with Redford making her brief cameo appearance in a 1972 movie The Candidate.

The following year, she went on to appear in the TV movie The Affair sharing the screen alongside Laurence Olivier. Subsequently, she featured in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Switch.

By the late 70s, Wood did movies including Meteor, The Last Married Couple in America, and several TV series. She gained high ratings and critical acclaim for her appearance in The Cracker Factory and especially in the miniseries film Here to Eternity.

Her role in the miniseries film also earned her a Golden Globe Award under the category Best Actress in 1980. Throughout her illustrious career, she appeared in 56 films for cinema and television. 

Natalie Wood's Awards and Achievements 

With her long acting career, Natalie Wood has received many accolades for her breakout performance in several successful movies some of them are listed below, 

Award  Work  Result
Box Office Magazine (1946)  Tomorrow Is Forever  Won 
Golden Globe Award (1957)  Rebel Without a Cause Won 
Mar del Palta International Film Festival (1964)  Love with the Proper Stranger Won 
Golden Globe Award (1966)  This Property Is Condemned  Won 
Golden Globe Award (1979)  From Herre to Eternity  Won 

Natalie Wood's Net Worth 

During her extensive career that spanned around four decades, Natalie Wood has played several notable roles in a number of successful movies and television series also. The actress has also earned many accolades as well as collected a large amount of money. According to Celebrity Net Wort, Wood's estimated net worth was around $2.5 million at the time of her death and as of now, it is around $6 million.  

Wood purchased the historic southern California house along with her husband Robert Wanger. The 5,000 square feet mansion has six bedrooms and 6.5 baths as well as it also boasts a swimming pool, tennis court, and landscaped gardens. Following her mysterious death in 1981, her husband Wanger sold a house for $1 million to Pulitzer-winning author Herman Wouk in 1983. 

CAPTION: Wood was the proud owner of Mercedes-Benz 300SL. SOURCE: Motor Authority

The Hollywood power couple Wood and Wanger's previous house is on the market for $2,495,000, according to Daily Mail. The actress owned a Mercedes-Benz 300SL which worth was around $4.62 million. 

Some of her box office hit movies are listed below. 

Movie  Role  Budget  Box Office  IMDb Rating  Cast Member 
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)  Susan Walker $630,000 $2.7 million  6.5 Maureen O'Hara
John Payne
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)  Judy $1.5 million  $4,500,000 7.8 James Dean
Sal Mineo
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)  Carol Sanders $2 million  $31.9 million  6.7 Robert Culp
Elliott Gould
Dyan Cannon
West Side Story (1961)  Maria $6 million  $43.7 million 7.6 Richard Beymer
Rita Moreno
George Chakiris

Natalie Wood's Personal Life 

Natalie Wood gained widespread popularity not only for her breakout roles in the movie but also for her personal life especially highly publicized marriage to actor Robert Wanger. It was reported that Wood had a crush on Wanger since her early years. 

CAPTION: Natalie Wood and her husband Wanger. SOURCE: People

Wood went on to a studio-arranged date on the occasion of her 18 birthday with the 26-year-old actor. The power couple exchanged vows on December 28, 1957, in an intimate ceremony. Their marriage also attracted much media coverage.

Both of them also collaborated on a number of projects and appeared together in several box office hit movies too. Despite their loving relationship, the two separated in June 1961 and their divorce was finalized the following year. After their divorce, the actress was romantically involved in a relationship with her boyfriend British producer Richard Gregson in 1966 and tied the knot On May 30, 1969. 

They welcomed their first child on September 29, 1970, a daughter named Natasha Gregson Wanger, now an  American actress too. Just after the birth of their child, they separated after she heard some inappropriate telephone conversation between her secretary and her husband Gregson. And their divorce was finalized in April 1972. 

Following their divorced, Wood reconciled her relationship with Wanger and the two remarried on July 16, 1972. And Wood gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Courtney Wanger in 1974. The couple was together until Wood's tragic death on November 29, 1981, at age 43. 

Wood was also briefly involved in a relationship with former American singer and actor Elvis Aaron Presley. Prior to Elvis Aaron Presley, she also dated actor Dennis Hopper and hotel dynasty heir Nicky Hilton

Natalie Wood's Tragically Fateful Death and Tribute 

In November 1981, Wood was on a weekend boat trip to California's Catalina Island with husband Robert Wagner. Her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken was also on the boat.  They all got drunk on the night of November 29 and due to the anger over Wood's relationship with Walken, Wagner broke a bottle after he thought the two seemed too close. 

Following the incident, Wood and Wagner started arguing. Unfortunately, Wagner did not find Wood later that evening and her dead body was found on the next day morning near a dinghy from the Splendour. The former Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner for the Country of Los Angeles Thomas Noguchi ruled out the death as an accident by drowning. 

It was speculated while the actress was attempting to secure the dinghy to prevent it from banging into the boat she fell in the water. Some people also denied the speculation as Wood had a water phobia. To say goodbye to the lovely and yet troubled actress, her families, relatives, and friends gathered at Los Angeles's Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery and some mourners were Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elia Kazan

During that emotional time, Wood's simulate friends and associates also shared their remembrances.

Due to her untimely death, both of her later projects Anastasia and Country of the Heart were canceled too. 

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