Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood
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Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,231 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Natalie Wood was always a star; her mother made sure this was true. A superstitious Russian immigrant who claimed to be royalty, Maria had been told by a gypsy, long before little Natasha Zakharenko's birth, that her second child would be famous throughout the world. When the beautiful child with the hypnotic eyes was first placed in Maria's arms, she knew the prophecy wou...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published November 4th 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published June 12th 2001)
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Jul 08, 2009 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fifties/Sixties movie fans
Shelves: hollywoodbabylon
The best Natalie Wood biography money can buy, honest and never boring. Her unrequited romance with (gay)actor Raymond Burr, her dalliance with director Nicholas Ray and attempts at dating Warren Beatty were amusing. The amusement of course, ends towards the final chapter where her bisexual husband Robert Wagner may or may not have had an affair with creepy Christopher Walken. The last hours of her life will creep you out.
Probably one of the best bios of Natalie Wood I have ever come across, despite the uneven handling of parts of her life (too much emphasis on her early and teen years) and repetitive style. I appreciated Suzanne Finstad's attempts to get to know the real woman behind the star image. Natalie is presented as an unfailingly kind, loving, and ambitious person who was pushed into acting by a stage mother and was left with psychological issues that she began to overcome by the end of her life, but one...more
Why does Natalie Wood’s gaudy life inspire mediocre bios? Because they never mention the “I’m pretty, mama! I’m a pretty girl!” scene in “Gypsy,” maybe the most brutal scene in any Hollywood movie? Because she spent her whole life in LA? Because nobody parts with a story they don’t own a piece of? Because she didn’t make more enemies? Because writers can’t resist schlocking up her stage mom or her horrible death? But “Mr. S,” the book by Sinatra’s valet, has two pages on N.W. (70-71) that are ea...more
Jul 11, 2008 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Natalie fans, EVERYONE, biography lovers
Probably the best biography I've ever read. I couldn't put it down! Suzanne Finstad gave a fascinating, vivid, informative account of Natalie's life. Finstad did so much research for this book, interviewing hundreds of people except for RJ Wagner because he declined because she told the truth about him and he couldn't handle that. It's a very sympathetic biography and you really feel for Natalie. Whether or not you're a Natalie fan, you will love this. Pick this up for an interesting read.
One certainly can't say this is a benign account of the star's life! If it is to be believed, it lays bare a pretty active early sex life of its subject and outs one of Hollywood's most enduring stars as a conflicted bisexual (something that said star denies vehemently.) It is, without question, a page turner but begins in tragedy, with Natalie enduring the oppression of a smothering, demanding stage mother and ends even worse, so it's not for the butterflies and candy cane set.
C.S. Burrough
Jul 05, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans
Anyone who even only saw 'Gypsy' (1962) would have been taken by this seemingly fresh, stunning talent. But this child veteran screen legend had already long since cemented her place in the Hollywood history with great films like 'Miracle on 34th Street' (1947).

Born in San Francisco to Russian immigrant parents, Wood also spoke Russian and was proud of her heritage. She was pushed as a toddler, by her mother, into films.

At nine she was named the 'most exciting juvenile motion picture star of th...more
Very enjoyable read for the most part. The author git a bit repetitive at times telling the story of Natalie Wood's life, but the book seemed very complete to me. It covered a lot of ground. Especially interesting were the stories of her early years as a child actress in Hollywood and then the transition into more mature roles. The mother comes off as kind of a villain---maybe rightfully so if the stories told about her are to be believed. The father was a weak and sometimes violent presence in...more
Jaime Contreras
This was a revealing and sometimes shocking revelation of Natasha Gurdin (AKA Natalie Wood), the famed child star and Hollywood icon. The author vividly paints the world into which little Natasha was born into and how how her controlling, manipulative and disillusioned mother, Maria (AKA "Mud") formed her into a star after her dream. The author pulls no punches in telling how Maria lived vicariously through her creation, "Natalie."

Natalie is shown to be a capricious, intelligent, engaging and t...more
I liked the first 3/4 of the book and found it quite an insightful look into the life of one of the most influential actresses of our time. I enjoyed hearing the stories of how she got her different roles and sympathized with her personal struggles growing up. But the thing that I found a bit frustrating was how much time was spent in the end talking about her tragic and mysterious death and all the theories surrounding it. I think it ended on such a down note, which I guess is how her life ende...more
Sarah Cler
Read this when it first came out a decade ago, and was inspired to pick it up again. Exhaustively researched, difficult-to-put-down biography of Natalie Wood, the first really complete biography ever written on her life. A must for any Natalie Wood fan.
Ever since finishing this book, I've been haunted by this actress and the thought of how she died, all alone and at sea. A magical life cut short far too soon, and the author has spoiled me for all other biographies. I couldn't put it down.
Jennifer Glick
Nov 07, 2007 Jennifer Glick added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sadly sweet ambitious types
She was something, we just forget how much. Can't wait until Natasha and Katie decide to write something.
Rex Leonowicz
Aug 24, 2007 Rex Leonowicz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans
She's a beautiful soul.

"Natalie Wood was always a star; her mother made sure this was true. A superstitious Russian immigrant who claimed to be royalty, Maria had been told by a gypsy, long before little Natasha Zakharenko's birth, that her second child would be famous throughout the world. When the beautiful child with the hypnotic eyes was first placed in Maria's arms, she knew the prophecy would become true and proceeded to do everything in her power — everything — to make sure of it. Natasha is the haunting...more
Carole Rae
I read this a few years ago in High School and since then I've been a big fan of Natalie Wood. Well, I had liked her movies, but I didn't really appreciate her career until I learned more about her. So when Boyfriend and I talked about her randomly, I knew I wanted to read this or something similar about her. When I went to the library (which is a different library then were I borrowed it originally), I stumbled upon this and decided to re-read it.

She truly was an interesting person and came fro...more
Michael Armijo
I strongly recommend this book for any fan of Natalie Wood. I always liked her. Who wouldn't after seeing her films? The author kind of goes overboard by being very repetitive at times...but once you get past that you can get into what matters. The author gets good insight via interviews from various contacts which allows one to decipher what is true & what probably is not. I found it fascinating to learn that Natalie divorced her husband, Robert Wagner, (the first time) after she found him...more
If you are over the age of 25 in America, you have heard of Natalie Wood. The tragically deceased movie star is akin to an icon in our nation's past. This thoroughly researched biography gives insight into her early life and behind the scenes information about her movies. With quotes from original sources, such as Wood's family members and staff, and second hand sources, such as magazine articles, the details of Natalie's life are spread before us.
I was only semi-knowledgeable about this actress...more
For the most part I found this quite enjoyable, a rare BIO where the author hasn't put their personal options in as a writer and tried to tell the story as it was with the facts by the people that were actually there; that made it an easy read.
However, I did feel as though there were some "facts" missing, wether it was for a fear of the lawyers, who knows? The explanations for the circumstances surrounding the end of both of her marriages was very vague in my opinion. I also found that while th...more
Overall a well- researched and detailed account of Natalie Wood's life, especially her childhood, homelife, and her start in Hollywood. The author spoke to numerous sources and has fascinating accounts of the behind-the-scenes of Wood's iconic films. However, Finstad makes a lot of assumptions, and puts her opinions and interpretations in almost every paragraph.

The most egregious part of the author's writing is the repetition! Again and again she rephrases the same thought, driving home her opi...more
The tradgedy of Natalie Wood started with her fame obsessed mother, pushing Natalie into things she may not have chosen for herself. Suzanne Finstad took on a task of bringing to life what and who Natalie Wood was. I have read several other celebrity biographies and the way that Ms. Finstad writes is one of the main reasons I read the book. A must read for all fans of Natalie Wood.
Natalie's story

I appreciated looking behind the scenes of Natalie's life, learning various people's perspectives of & experiences with her. I found this book to be insightful & I liked the way her story was told.
Kat Mcgrath
Listened to this one - read by her sister, Lana Wood, who is NOT a professional book speaker, she fumbled quite a few times and the fumbles were never corrected.
Mediocre at best, probably due to the lack of any style by the author. I wish I could say it read like historical fiction, but it was plain, cut, dry, repetitive. I did learn about her overbearing mother, and it did put her movies into chronological sequence for me and I will go watch some of them again. I saw them as a youngster and hon...more
Clearly written by the Wood camp, this book is a fascinating look at stardom and the dark side of Hollywood. The description of her death in on a boat with Christopher Walken and her husband is interesting and something I didn't know that much about.
Riveting! Loved it - great story of the ultimate stage mother, old Hollywood and the experience of growing up in the spotlight.
Nicholas Disabatino
"Natasha" by Suzanne Finstad is a fully comprehensive and deeply sympathetic portrayal of actress Natalie Wood. One of the most fascinating parts of the biography was a section where Wood described how she would "put on the badge" whenever she was in public and act like "Natalie Wood," --featuring a most revealing look at one of the silver screen's most luminous and talented actresses, whose life was cut too short by tragedy. Finstad is firmly in the camp that places that blame of Wood's death o...more
The only reason I say this book is O.K. is because it is depressing. The book is well written and gives a good glimpse into her life off screen, but so many parts of her life were so depressing.
For example, in one scene in the book she break her wrist as a child. She is too afraid to tell someone, so she lets it heal itself.
I like the old Hollywood glamor and I like reading behind mask of perfection. Paparazzi wasn't around at that time as they are today, so the book gives you a paparazzi take...more
Tragic though her life was - what a life she had! The early part of the book was very thorough no doubt the author had lots of info from immediate family. Her later life however was more conjecture and implication. Often the author contradicted her own earlier statements, one minute Natalie was a confused "saint" then a definite "sinner" with the Hollywood in-crowd. Also the author is very much team Wood rather than team Wagner. Still, a very enlightening read and a story that even Hollywood cou...more
Joan Napolitano
This biography was around 450 pages. It could have been a lot less if the author had not repeated herself so much. I understand that interviewing people who knew Natalie (not though RJ) basically repeated either stories that they heard about her behavior or their own observations of her behavior. I did learn new fact regarding her horrible death; and it does seem there are conflicting statements regarding what happened that night. In the end, I do believe it was accidental.
Natalie Johnson
Interesting read. I felt it gave some good background on a fascinating individual. I usually get annoyed by biographies when they try to tell a story that has been told so many times, but in lieu of the fact that the investigation of her death was recently reopened, I thought it would be worth a read. I definitely found it intriguing and sad and the reality is that we may never know the truth of what really happened that night. Overall, worth the time to read.
Taylor Gibbs
After reading Robert Wagner's autobiography, I decided to try this book as well. It was quite a counterpoint and diverged from many of Mr. Wagner's commentaries, sometimes delving into the salacious. The author spent a great deal of time on Ms. Wood's early childhood and not enough on the other twenty-five years of her life. Having said that, this was an interesting portrait of a very complex woman.
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