Natalie Wood was a critically acclaimed American actress best known for her roles in the notable films Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass and Love With the Proper Stranger.
Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, California, to Russian immigrants Nikolai and Maria Zakharenko. Shortly after she was born, her family moved to Sonoma County and later to Santa Rosa, California, where she was first noticed by movie producers during a film shoot downtown. Her mother soon moved the family to Los Angeles to pursue Natalie Wood’s career as an actress. She had her first credited role when she was cast in Orson Welles’s 1946 black-and-white film Tomorrow is Forever. She soon made a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top child actors when she starred in the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street in 1947.
By the time she was 16, Wood has successfully made her transition from a child star to an adult actress when she co-starred with James Dean, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper in the 1955 Nicholas Ray film Rebel Without a Cause. Her outstanding performance in the film earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Wood further gained artistic recognition when she starred as the teen-aged girl Deanie Loomis in Elia Kazan’s 1961 film Splendor in the Grass. Her role in the film earned her Best Actress nominations for the Academy, Golden Globe and BAFTA awards. That same year, she portrayed Maria in the musical West Side Story.
Wood earned her third Academy Award nomination for her starring role as Angie Rossini in the 1963 romantic comedy drama film Love With the Proper Stranger, alongside Steve McQueen. In 1965, she portrayed Daisy Clover in the highly noted motion picture Inside Daisy Clover. This was then followed by her portrayal of the pretty town flirt Alva Starr in This Property Is Condemned, co-starring Robert Redford, Kate Reid, Charles Bronson and Mary Badham.
Wood met her untimely death when she accidentally drowned in Isthmus Cove in October 1981.