Born in San Francisco, California, to Russian emigre parents in 1938, Natalie Wood went on to become one of the few child actors who went on to film stardom as an adult. Her death at 43 left in void in a lot of film watchers hearts--mine included--not because she was simply too freaking beautiful to be beliveved, which she was, but because she seemed to be on the verge of a major third act in her career--from child actor to beautiful ingenue to strong-willed mature woman playing other memorable roles either in films or television.
She made some bad movies to pay the bills with--if you've never seen her as a Russian scientist in a disaster flick called "Meteor" (1980) with Sean Connery and a cast of other name actors getting in a couple days work for a lot of cash--count yourself among the blessed. But there was also signs she was going to be as good as Vanessa Redgrave or Anne Bancroft if you saw her in television films like "The Cracker Factory" (about mental illness) or in the otherwise so-so remake of the wartime drama "From Here to Eternity" (1979) where she literally stole every scene she was in playing a part made famous by Deborah Kerr in the original.
. One just took it for granted that she would be around for a while longer.
Most people my age have their favorite Natalie Wood film (or two). And while as an adult she did everything from serious dramas like "Splendour in the Grass" (1961) with Warren Beatty to madcap slapstick in the overlong but enjoyable "The Great Race" with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, she continued to shine. Even in movies that were forgettable, she wasn't.
Anyway, here's an extended scene from my favorite of her films, "Love With the Proper Stranger" (1963). It's the story of two younger New Yorkers who are nearing the end of their youth and see a future of working-class ennui ahead of them...she's kind of a wallflower in this movie (I know. Natalie Wood as a wallflower??? It's still a Hollywood movie I'm afraid.) The guy in her life is a musician who's scared of settling because he's still sowing wild oats but the clock is running out and he should settle down, maybe. Except the people he knows from his neighborhood who have look so much older and beaten-down then they should be. It's from 1963, but it could have been made forty years later and still be as relevant.
What is a clever twist in this a romance is that they only really start this bumpy relationship off AFTER she comes to him and announces she's pregnant after a one-night stand and he can't even remember sleeping with her. (As someone pointed out on You Tube, how do you not remember sleeping with a girl who looks like Natalie Wood?? I'm guessing LSD.)
You might recognize her co-star.
For me the coolest thing about Natalie Wood is that she was given an award in 1966 as "The Worst Actress of the Year" by the student journalism staff at Harvard University--The Harvard Lampoon--and she actually went in person to the Cambridge, Massachusetts to accept the "award". Sandra Bullock did it too a couple years ago but Natalie was the first.
If you want to see more pictures and background for Natalie Wood, here is a good website. http://flickchick1953.blogspot.com/2011/11/remembering-natalie-wood-you-dont-know.html