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Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,719 Ratings  ·  97 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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Ana
I didn't know who the hell I was. I was whoever they wanted me to be.


An amazing biography of Natalie Wood's fascinating, yet tragic life. She is truly one of my favorite actresses and Hollywood legends of all time.


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Colleen
Jul 03, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andy
Jul 08, 2009 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Stephanie
Jul 09, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Rob
Jun 12, 2008 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon
Nov 24, 2008 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
 ☆Ruth☆
Feb 27, 2017 ☆Ruth☆ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
An in-depth, well-researched biography, which left me feeling both sad and angry. Sad because Natasha (Natalie) never had the chance to live a normal life but was manipulated, used and abused from childhood; angry because it seems to me that someone was allowed to get away with murder....
C.S. Burrough
Apr 06, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sarah Cler
Feb 21, 2012 Sarah Cler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rex Leonowicz
Aug 24, 2007 Rex Leonowicz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans
She's a beautiful soul.
Rick
Jan 04, 2015 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely well-researched, sympathetic, and compelling portrait of a complicated life and death. Fascinating.
Donna
Jun 22, 2013 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rick
Mar 26, 2011 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Natalie Goguen
I thought this biography was very interesting. Natalie Wood was such a talented actress. her death was a tragedy. She was young and beautiful. She had a rough child hood but she appreciated it. Natalie Wood was just a figure in her mothers imagination. She was in the movie business since she was a child. She truly was something special. fun fact.... I was named after Natalie Wood.... my dad loved her as an actress so much he decided to name his baby girl after her. Anyways Natalie had many affai ...more
Claudine
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
Jo
Mar 01, 2012 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen Jones
Finstad is a great researcher, but her writing is melodramatic and overwrought. Many things were repeated over and over. I didn't need to know what every source thought of Natalie at every given time and I got the feeling that Finstad wanted to put every single quote in the book.
Jennifer Glick
Nov 06, 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.
Lynsey
Mar 08, 2017 Lynsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book. I found the writer's style to be a bit redundant, since she kept focusing on the same elements and yet not adding any new information really. The account of her drowning seems shaky at best and disturbing at worst. Natalie Wood was a great beauty, profound talent, and apparently a genuinely wonderful person.
Paul Baker
Aug 02, 2016 Paul Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood by Suzanne Finstad is an outstanding biography. It is extremely well-researched and for the most part very well written. If I had one issue that bothered me, it was the extreme use of repetition. Some of that space used for repetition might have been put to better use in talking about her films.

That said, Natalie Wood's body of work as an actress was simply astounding. As you read through the titles of her films, the sheer number of great films and terrific
...more
Emily
Feb 24, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kris - My Novelesque Life
3 STARS

"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
Dec 14, 2013 Carole Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Verna
Jan 09, 2015 Verna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good bio of Natalie Wood. After recently reading Lana Wood's book about her famous older sister, I was curious to know more about the lovely film star. This book gives a detailed description of Natalie's childhood with her strange, overbearing stage mother and her inadequate, alcoholic father. It is quite obvious Natalie was denied a proper childhood since she was pushed into acting by her overbearing mother at a very young age. Natalie or (Natasha, her birth name), was a very bright and ad ...more
Tonya Coleman
Nov 23, 2016 Tonya Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Callie-shea
Feb 08, 2013 Callie-shea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katherine
Oct 21, 2016 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Interesting but more repetitive than necessary. The circumstances surrounding her death in 1981 were reexamined in 2011 and no new conclusions were reached. Obviously, there was alcohol involved but the level of intoxication seems to have been high enough that the facts of the evening's events were too blurred. Her life with a mother who lived through her achievements, a father who was a violent, if sensitive at times, drunk and a parade of lovers of different ages and backgrounds was certainly ...more
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
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