Overnight she became America’s favourite child star. She would become a superstar—the last of the great studio-styled celebrities. From her fairy tale career through her turbulent life to her mysterious death, here is the intimate film biography of one of Hollywood’s greatest and most glamorous women.
In Santa Rosa, 1943, a film is being shot on location. Emerging out of the crowd of extras, on-lookers, and crew is Natasha Gurdin, the four-year-old daughter of Russian immigrants. At the coaching of her aggressive stage mother, Maria (Alice Krige, Dinotopia), she curtsies for the film’s producer, introduces herself, and announces, “I want to be a movie star.” The line reading is perfectly convincing. Not only does it work, but by the time she is seven, as the newly-christened Natalie Wood (Elizabeth Rice, My Dog Skip), the studio’s newest charmer is fast becoming what her mother always wanted her to be: famous throughout the world.
Over the years, as a reluctant star desperate to be freed from her mother’s manipulative grasp, Natalie Wood (Justine Waddell, Great Expectations) becomes an icon starring opposite Rex Harrison, James Dean, Gene Kelly, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, and most importantly to Natalie, her teen-idol fantasy Robert Wagner (Michael Weatherly, Dark Angel), whom she weds. Yet with the Hollywood fantasy comes the crushing realities—debilitating fears and insecurities, emotional abuse and loneliness, a troubled marriage, suicidal depression, a constant struggle with unprecedented fame, and her yet-unfulfilled dreams of becoming simply a wife and mother. Then on a cold, wind-swept night in November 1981, off the coast of Catalina Island, an unforeseen tragedy will forever secure Natalie Wood’s position in the pantheon of Hollywood’s most enduring legends—and mysteries.
What was the life of Natalie Wood like when the doors of the soundstage closed? Based on Natasha, the New York Times bestselling biography, the answer—complex, haunting, and revealing—is The Mystery of Natalie Wood.