Hollywood’s Child: Natalie Wood
By Joshua Cornelius
Natalie Wood was by all rights a child raised in the Hollywood system. Though she made her break out appearance in Miracle on 34th Street at the tender age of nine, she’d already been taking steady work in Hollywood from the age of four. By sixteen she was already the subject of salacious rumors involving her Rebel Without A Cause director, Nicholas Ray. Gossip followed the Hollywood starlet from production to production, through her marriage to Richard Gregson and both marriages to Richard Wagner. Though eventually her popularity waned and the actress turned to less prestigious television work, Wood was cast into the gossip mill one last time – upon her death from drowning at the age of forty-three.
Given all the recently reignited controversy surrounding the 1981 death of Natalie Wood, it’s easy to forget the indelible impact her performances have had on cinema. In films like The Searchers, Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story and the aforementioned Rebel Without A Cause, Wood enchanted audiences around the world.
What follows is a short promotional documentary, shot as Wood was filming Sex and the Single Girl with Tony Curtis. The documentary is somewhat revealing, as it features scenes of Natalie getting into a water tank for specific scenes. Wood had allegedly developed an intense fear of water from the age of nine, when she’d almost drowned while filming The Green Promise. Her fear of water was and is an intense topic of debate in the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. Unfortunately the documentary comes to an abrupt end at the twenty minute mark.