Natalie Wood is in the news again, after decades, because her death has been re-examined. It makes me sad that today she's best known as a celebrity drowning victim, because she had an impressive career.
1) Between her debut at age 5 and her death at age 43, she acted in more than 50 film and TV shows.
2) She received three Oscar nominations, all before the age of 25.
3) Her breakthrough childstar role is Susan, the sophisticated little girl who goes toe-to-toe with Santa in Miracle on 34th Street.
4) As a child she appeared with Bette Davis, Bing Crosby, Ethel Barrymore, James Stewart, and Marilyn Monroe. It was good training as she developed her own glamorous movie star persona.
5) Her breakthrough teen role came at age 16 in Rebel Without a Cause. She was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
6) She played the pivotal role of John Wayne's niece in the classic The Searchers.
8) Her next film was West Side Story. Today, more than 50 years later, it's still one of the most profitable films of all time.
9) Her string of hits continued with Gypsy, Love with the Proper Stranger (her final Oscar nod) and Sex and the Single Girl.
10) She hit a rough patch with audiences in 1966 with four consecutive, big-budget flops. She took some time off and came back with the popular but controversial Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
11) That was her last major film success. She went into semi-retirement to concentrate on being a mom to her little girls.
12) She married Robert Wagner twice and appeared with him in one film (All the Fine Young Cannibals in 1960) and later on TV, including cameos on his shows Switch and Hart to Hart.
13) She always wore a bracelet or large watch on her left wrist to cover a bump she considered unsightly. She realized no one else noticed her "deformity" and jokingly called her ornamentation The Badge. But her insistence on The Badge whenever she was photographed or even went out in public shows how insecure one of the screen's loveliest stars could be.
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