In all the hype of Royal Baby News, an Icon celebrated a milestone birthday and although she wasn't here physically to celebrate,We still should honor an impressive career that spanned nearly four decades, literally one of the few child actress to make the transition to adult actor.
When we hear the name Natalie Wood, we don't think of her as the doubtful child in "Miracle on 34th Street", the Wild child with James Dean in "Rebel without a cause" or even as Maria, who sang her way into one particular Jet's heart, We automatically remember the tragic starlet's death on that cold November night Thanksgiving weekend in 1981. Although She had a tragic ending, she lived a full life in just 43 years, she had done the transition from child actor successful to adult actress, to eventually wife and mother.
Natalie Wood's landmark 75th Birthday was celebrated by devoted movie fans throughout the social network, posting pictures, videos, and quotes from over 70 pictures, the stories shared made a person feel like She was there celebrating right along with us.
Natalie Wood's career, as with anyone in the Entertainment business, suffered highs and lows, while she had success with Gypsy, she had a few commercial failures, the Property is condemned with Robert Redford failed to get it's legs off the ground. but as with anything Natalie did, she simply moved onto the next picture.
To Understand the Person behind "The Badge" as Natalie called it, We have to go all the way back to her childhood in Santa Rosa where Natasha Gurdin was a child forced into the spotlight by her domineering mother, affectingly referred as Mud who believed a psychic's prediction that her middle child, Natasha, would be a great movie star but would also die in dark water. Mud then passed that fear along with a plethora of others to the child, which carried over into the rest of her life.
At three, she had a bit part in a movie and by the age of six, she was starring with Orsen Welles, throughout her career from that point on, she was the daughter of Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Maureen O'Sullivan through the rest of her childhood and only after she was too old to play kid roles, did she move onto the Femme Fatale Roles. She gave up her childhood to become this fantastical movie star.
Married at 18 to Robert Wagner, She still pushed forward in her career, less so for her mother and more for her because it was the only life she knew but in the end it affected her marriage and so after five years, it was over. It was only after the breakup of her marriage, did she really take stock in what she wanted out of life and although she was desperate for a family of her own, she still had her priorities which was always her career, by the time she was 25, she'd been in nearly 40 pictures.
But unfortunately at one point, she'd been in one commercial failure after another and she realized that she needed to make big changes, she fired her team of agents and lawyers, to start completely over and took a much needed break much to the chagrin of her mother.
After an excessive dating period, Natalie met and married Richard Gregson and had her baby, named after her Natasha but shortly after the birth of their baby, Natalie discovers Gregson's cheating on her and throws him out, less than a year later, she gets involved again with Robert Wagner and remarries him.
After the birth of their second child, Natalie takes most of the 1970s off to raise her girls and concentrate on her marriage to RJ Wagner but the call of Show biz beckons her and she returns in films that ultimately flop. Just before she passes away, she plays Maggie in a TV movie production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and starts rehearsals for an off Broadway production of Anastasia.
Then that horrific night off of Catalina Island, No one knows what happened and the speculation is extraordinary, was she pushed? was it an accident? the only people who know what happened on the boat are RJ Wagner, Chris Walken and Dennis Davern, unfortunately they will only talk about the basics except for Dennis Davern who's latest attempt to make a buck off of poor Natalie's demise.
Although the case has been reopened at the urging of Lana Wood, Natalie's sister, there will always be a mystery to the death of Natalie Wood because although the case may get solved, the circumstances will never be revealed. Thus leaving one of Hollywood's greatest death mysteries.
It's interesting tidbit that all of the members of Rebel without a Cause died young and tragic giving life to the myth that Rebel was cursed, James Dean died in a car crash, Sal Mineo was mugged and murdered, the director Nick Adams was found with a heroin overdose, Natalie of course drowned. I think Dennis Hopper was the only to make it past the age of 45 years of age.
Natalie Wood's life was somewhat overshadowed by her death but we still watch West Side Story and sing along because it's one of those rare feel good movies that never go out of style. Her beauty and Charisma leave you with an impression of not only a beautiful person on the outside but on the inside as well.
We will never know what would have happened if Natalie had lived, would she have continued acting or maybe she would have had she had another baby, If she would have stayed married to RJ or maybe her innocent flirtation with Chris Walken could have taken a turn at real love.
Natalie's real legacy though, is her children, Natasha who recently had a baby, Clover Clementine Watson and Courtney, who in reaction to her mother's death, became a wild child of her own and struggles with her own issues.
One of the great Natalie Wood quotes, taken from I'm not sure one of her movies or an interview sums up an unfortunate truth we all have to face at some point
"What do I want? I want Yesterday"
What is your favorite Natalie Wood Movie? or a Favorite Natalie Wood Story? What do you think really happen to her?