From a child star to teen idol to adult actresses Natalie Wood will forever be etched in my mind as James Dean’s girl, Judy in Rebel Without a Cause, and of course as Maria in West Side Story.
Natalie played roles from the sweet little innocent girl to a stripper (Gypsy) and played them well. Unfortunately as she aged, her roles were limited and her performances were lackluster.
Natalie was nominated for three acting Oscars but never won. Ironically she won a Golden Globe in 1957 for Most Promising Female Newcomer, and she had already been making movies almost 15 years by then. Natalie was known as Hollywood’s bad girl in the 1950’s and she dated a slew of Hollywood elite, many of them older, such as her director on Rebel, Nicholas Ray, who according to the book Live Fast Die Young, also slept with James Dean. Natalie also dated Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, Raymond Burr and Dennis Hopper.
Natalie married actor, Robert Wagner in 1957, They divorced in 1962, later to remarry. Natalie began work on Brainstorm in 1981 with Christopher Walken. She did not live to see it released. On November 29, 1981, she was sailing on the yacht she shared with her husband, Robert Wagner, and their friend Walken, when Natalie fell in the ocean while trying to board the dinghy tied up alongside the yacht and drowned. She was 43 years old.