Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Natalie Wood

This is a real "stretch" unless you count the fact that Natalie grew up n Santa Rosa near KV west-man Neal Hellman. That could be Natalie's mothers' record on the ship manifest shown above. Her boat docked in New York in 1922. Tamara, the name listed, could later be Maria? BTW there are plenty of Zakharenko's living currently in Brighton Beach.
Natalie's biography:

Natalie Wood, born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, also billed as Natasha Gurdin (July 20, 1938, San Francisco, California – November 29, 1981, Santa Catalina Island, California) was a three-time Academy Award nominated American film actress. Wood began appearing in movies when she was 5 years old, had parts in successful Hollywood films and unlike many child actors made the difficult transition to adult roles, most notably in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and West Side Story (1961). By age 25 she was a three-time Oscar nominee for Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass and Love With the Proper Stranger. After her untimely death Time magazine noted that although critical praise for Wood had been sparse throughout her career, "she always had work."Wood's parents Nikolai and Maria Zakharenko were Russian immigrants. Shortly after her birth in San Francisco they moved north to Sonoma County and lived in Santa Rosa, California where Wood was noticed during a film shoot in downtown Santa Rosa. Her mother soon moved the family to Los Angeles and pursued a career for her daughter. By age four Natalia was being billed as Natasha Gurdin. Like many parents of child actors her mother tightly managed and controlled the young girl's career and personal life. Her father has been described by Wood's biographers as a passive alcoholic.
As a seven year old, Wood played a German orphan opposite Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow Is Forever. Welles later said that Wood was a born professional, "so good, she was terrifying". Her performance in the 1947 Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street made Wood one of the top child stars in Hollywood. She would appear on over 20 films as a child, appearing opposite such stars as James Stewart, Bette Davis and Bing Crosby. Her sister Lana Wood also became an actress and later, notably, a Bond girl. They had another sister, Olga.
Wood successfully made the transition from child star to ingenue at age 16 when she co-starred in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper. Her performance won her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She followed this with a small but crucial role in John Ford's The Searchers opposite John Wayne. Her sister, Lana played her as a child in the film's earlier scenes. She graduated from Van Nuys High School in 1955.
Signed to Warner Brothers, Wood was kept busy during the remainder of the 1950's in many 'girlfriend' roles that she found unsatisfying. The studio cast her in two films opposite Tab Hunter, hoping to turn the duo into a box office draw that never eventuated. Among the other films made at this time were Kings Go Forth with Frank Sinatra and the title role in Marjorie Morningstar.
After appearing in the box office flop, All the Fine Young Cannibals with then husband, Robert Wagner, Wood's career was salvaged by her casting in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass in 1961 which earned her Best Actress Nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.
Also in 1961 Wood played Maria in the Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise musical West Side Story which was a major box office and critical success. She had been signed to do her own singing but was later dubbed by session singer Marni Nixon. Wood's own singing voice was used when she starred in the 1962 film Gypsy and she also sang in the slapstick comedy The Great Race (1965) co-starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wood received her third Academy Award nomination (and another Golden Globe nod) in 1963 for Love with the Proper Stranger opposite Steve McQueen.
Although many of Wood's films were commercially profitable her acting was often criticized. In 1966 she won the Harvard Lampoon Worst Actress of the Year Award. She was the first performer in the award's history to accept it in person and the Harvard Crimson wrote she was "quite a good sport."
Other notable films Wood made during this period were Inside Daisy Clover and This Property Is Condemned, both of which co-starred Robert Redford and both bringing subsequent Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. After appearing in the hit film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Wood semi-retired to start a family with her second husband Richard Gregson but their marriage ended in divorce a short time later.
She appeared in occasional theatrical films during the 1970's, preferring roles in TV Movies, including a remake of From Here To Eternity that won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress. At the time of her death, Wood was filming the sci-fi film Brainstorm with Christopher Walken.

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