I just recently purchased this first edition Natalie Wood biography in the middle of my current James Dean obsession and after watching Rebel Without a Cause – although my favorite Natalie Wood movie is Splendor in the Grass. I like to get memoirs or autobiographies, rather than biographies, if possible so I can have a firsthand account of what actually happened. Sadly Natalie’s life was cut short in 1981 at the age of 43, so all we have is her sister’s book, Natalie A Memoir By Her Sister Lana Wood published in 1984.
I have always been fascinated by Natalie Wood. She knew both James Dean and Elvis, two of my favorites. As I mentioned, she was in two of my favorite old movies. The mystery surrounding her death and the fact she drowned even though she was deathly afraid of the water. I have read both of RJ’s memoirs – RJ is Robert Wagner, Natalie’s husband whom she married twice from 1957-1962 and again ten years later in 1972 until her death in 1981. This was my first Natalie Wood book. I have had her biography for years, but have yet to read it but I will now, sooner rather than later.
Lana’s book about her sister Natalie was very entertaining, but not as informative as I would have liked – which is why I will be reading that biography soon. The book was half about Lana’s life and half about Natalie’s. It was not organized very well – kept jumping back and forth rather than progressing chronologically. It seemed Lana idolized her older sister Natalie, but there also seemed to be a lot of jealousy on Lana’s part. She did not mention much about the filming of Rebel Without a Cause or Splendor in the Grass or Natalie’s time with Elvis. Maybe those are just things I am interested in and are the most important to me. She mentioned them but maybe only a page on each. Lana did not mentioned Natalie’s affair with Rebel director Nicholas Ray. Lana did write about Natalie’s relationships with Warren Beatty and Dennis Hopper, but not in too much detail. Even her marriages with RJ weren’t given much detail. Maybe because it was her sister’s account, and Lana did not know the details. Or maybe because it was only three years after Natalie’s death, and Lana did not want to reveal too much. I did find strange that at the time this book was written RJ would not talk with Lana nor let her see Natalie’s kids.
Like I mentioned, Lana Wood’s book about her sister Natalie was very entertaining, but not overly informative. I did learn a lot about Lana though. I had no idea she was a Bond girl.