Natalie Wood was an American film and television actress. She is known for her screen roles in Miracle on 34th Street,Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, The Searchers, and West Side Story. She first worked in films as a child, then became a successful Hollywood star as a young adult, receiving three Academy Award nominations before she was 25 years old.
Wood began acting in movies at the age of four and, at age eight, was given a co-starring role with Maureen O’Hara in the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street. As a teenager, her performance in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She starred in the musical films West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1963) and received Academy Award for Best Actress nominations for her performances in Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963). Her career continued with films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969).
After this, she took a break from acting and had two children, appearing in only three theatrical films during the 1970’s. She was married to actor Robert Wagner twice, and to producer Richard Gregson. She had one daughter by each husband: actress Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner. Her younger sister Lana Wood is also an actress.
Wood starred in several television productions, including a remake of the film From Here to Eternity (1979) for which she won a Golden Globe Award. During her career from child actress to adult star, her films represented a “coming of age” for both her and Hollywood films in general.
During the making of her last film, Brainstorm Wood drowned while on a weekend boat trip to Santa Catalina Island, California. She was with her husband Robert Wagner, Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern, at the time. Many facts surrounding her drowning are unknown because no one admitted seeing how she entered the water. Wood’s body was discovered by authorities at 8:00 am on November 29th, 1981, one mile away from the boat, with a small inflatable dinghy, found beached nearby. According to Wagner, when he went to bed, Wood was not there. The autopsy report revealed that Wood had bruises on her body and arms as well as an abrasion on her left cheek.