The Woman.

Natalie Wood was born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko in San Francisco on July 20th, 1938, to first-generation Russian immigrant parents Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko and Maria Stepanovna Zakharenko.

The Woman

Natalie’s mother enrolled her in ballet class and introduced her to director Irving Pichel when she was four. Soon Natalie became a beloved child star, playing the daughter of James Stewart, Bette Davis, and Gene Tierney (among others) before receiving her first Academy Award nomination and first Golden Globe win at age sixteen. Natalie's smooth transition from child to adult roles made her a darling of Hollywood, known for her beauty, her vivacity, and her signature gardenia scent.


Her first marriage to Robert Wagner at nineteen made her one of the most popular young celebrities of the 1950s. Even through their divorce, Natalie's fame skyrocketed into the 1960s. Though a child of the movies and a devoted actress, Natalie was never content to simply be famous. "Stardom is only a by-product of acting," she once said. "I don't think being a movie star is a good enough reason for existing." Her commitment to self-discovery included psychotherapy and journaling. 


Natalie semi-retired at the age of just thirty-two, when she married agent Richard Gregson and became pregnant with her first child, Natasha. She devoted herself to motherhood, appearing in only four theatrical films thereafter. Her untimely passing on November 28th, 1981, rocked the world. Natalie was survived by her mother Maria Gurdin, her husband Robert Wagner, and her two daughters, Natasha and Courtney.