|Full Name||Natalie Wood|
|Birthday||July 20, 1938|
|Death Date||November 29, 1981|
|Net Worth||$5 million|
Natalie Wood was an iconic American actress who rose to fame as a child star and continued enthralling audiences throughout her adult career with her captivating talent and timeless beauty. Born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California, she would go on to earn three Academy Award nominations and leave an indelible mark on Hollywood.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Wood‘s mother pushed her into acting at just 4 years old, landing her first role in the film Happy Land in 1943. She continued booking small parts in films like The Pride of the Yankees and Miracle on 34th Street as a child actor. Her first major breakout role came at age 16 playing the lead in Rebel Without a Cause opposite James Dean. Her performance as the angst-ridden teen cemented her status as one of the defining actresses of her generation.
Continued Success and Iconic Roles
In the 1950s and 60s, Wood starred in a string of successful and often daring films that further showcased her immense talent. She earned her first Best Actress Oscar nomination for Splendor in the Grass in 1961. That same year she also memorably played Maria in the hit musical West Side Story, learning to sing and dance for the role. Other notable films from this peak period include Gypsy (1962), Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), which earned her third Oscar nod.
Style Icon and Hollywood Beauty
With her dark hair, almond eyes and petite 5‘ 2" frame, Wood embodied a classic Hollywood beauty on screen. She was also a major style influencer off screen, with outfits she wore being copied around the world. Magazines chronicled her fashion and beauty routines for readers. Life magazine named her one of the "World‘s Ten Most Beautiful Women" in 1959.
Wood‘s sudden death by drowning off the coast of Catalina Island at age 43 added an air of mystery to her legend. She was aboard a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken when the incident occurred on November 29, 1981. The exact circumstances were never fully explained, though fascination with her tragic end only contributed to Wood‘s lasting fame.
Legacy and Cultural Impact
With her immense talent, timeless beauty and mysterious premature death, Natalie Wood became one of the most legendary actresses of the 20th century. Her films continue to be viewed and appreciated by new generations of fans. She helped pave the way for future generations of actresses with her fearless and vulnerable performances. Wood‘s magical onscreen presence and eventful life ensure her place as a Hollywood icon.