Amazing... and beautiful actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981) was born Natasha Gurdin on this day in San Francisco, California. She learned ballet soon after she could walk and tugged hearts as the child star of Miracle on 34th Street(1947).
With a spirit of innate innocence and those enormous brown eyes, she established a reputation as a scene-stealer. "She was so good-- she was terrifying," actor Orson Welles observed.
At 17, she starred as James Dean's sensitive, misunderstood girl friend in the classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955), earning her first Oscar nomination.
Of her role in Splendor In the Grass (1961), Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "Miss Wood has a beauty and radiance that carry her through a role of violent passions and depressions with unsullied purity and strength. There is poetry in her performance."
In West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein,1961), a New York City update of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, she touched audiences as the passionate Maria. She sang (with vocals from Marni Nixon), danced, and spoke with an accent.
"Anyone who says it doesn't hurt when (critics) zap you is not to be believed," Woods once said.
In 1957, actor Robert Wagner put a diamond and pearl ring at the bottom of a glass of Dom Perignon inscribed with the words, "Marry me?" She did. They eventually divorced and remarried.
Wood called their time apart "Seitensprung," German for when two dancers change partners then reunite before the waltz is over. "We'll probably go on fighting--and making up--until we're 90," she said. Her words were an ironic twist to the tragic boating accident near Catalina Island that claimed her life at 43.
Women are amazing.