I've never really spoken of my long-time love for Natalie Wood on this site before. My conscious admiration of her started after my first viewing of Rebel Without a Cause, of which I wrote a 10+ page high school research paper, though arguably I liked - even loved - Natalie long before I enviously watched her canoodling James Dean on screen. Her first film, Miracle on 34th Street, was on constant rotation during the holiday season in my household, and my favorite tune during 1997 was "I Feel Pretty." Granted, Wood didn't actually sing that song, but that was alright by me. She also wasn't Puerto Rican. I can overlook a thing or two.
When I finally saw her film Splendor in the Grass, I was excited for numerous reasons. Uniting the lovely fragility of Natalie Wood with the brooding badass-ery of Warren Beatty (and adding a dash of cinematic brilliance in the form of Elia Kazan) was a dream for me. The film was very effecting - so much that the doctor's appointment I had for the following morning was noted for my skewed personality (unlike my awkwardly quiet compliance) and I was asked repeatedly if I had recently lost a family member, pet, boyfriend, etc. etc.
Wood and Beatty have great chemistry onscreen, and its easy to see why these two hooked up after filming completed. I've always enjoyed the relationship between the two former Splendor in the Grass costars. Yes, I love Robert Wagner and I do not relish the fact that his and Wood's marriage had to end before she started her relationship with Beatty, but you have to admit that these two were a pretty adorable pair.
Their relationship was fraught with drama. Beatty was a notorious womanizer during the 1960s, and the fact that he had come between Wood's marriage to Wagner did little to endear the couple to the public. Natalie allegedly turned down the role of Bonnie in Beatty's iconic Bonnie and Clyde because she feared separation from her analyst during the Texas shoot would cause a nervous breakdown. Later that night, Beatty claimed that Wood tried to take her life with an overdose of sleeping pills.
The couple stayed amicable after the split, apparently so lovely were relations between Beatty and Wood that they would sometimes go on double dates together. Click here to read about the odd dates where Wood (who was seeing filmmaker Henry Jaglom at the time) would act as translator for Beatty in his seduction of Russian ballet dancer Maya Plisetskaya.