Alexa here. Today would have been Natalie Wood's 72nd birthday. She was one of those rare child actors who grew into a graceful adult on screen. As a teenager I was so entranced with the melodrama of Splendor in the Grass that it lived in our VCR for months. So like any good fangirl I bought this old teen movie magazine from the 50s the instant I spotted it.
Inside is a silly puff piece on Natalie, with pictures of her and her studio-arranged boyfriend Nick Adams.
Natalie had just secured her role opposite Gene Kelly in Marjorie Morningstar. (Looks like that remake starring Scarlett Johansson never materialized.) Interestingly, inside Natalie is pretty honest about her "work" with Nick:
"A lot of what people think are dates," she explained, "are not dates at all. They're publicity things. They're work, actually."
I just spotted Natalie's daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, on The Closer this week. It felt like I hadn't seen her in anything since High Fidelity, although she's popped up in small roles here and there. I wonder if Natasha's strong resemblance to her mom hurt or helped her career; the same thing helped Kate Hudson, at least early on.
A good Natalie Wood film binge would have to include Miracle on 34th Street, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Rebel Without a Cause, The Searchers, Splendor in the Grass, West Side Story (but not Gypsy), and Love with a Proper Stranger. Feel free to disagree in the comments.