The Story of Natalie Wood Is Also the Story of Her Mother. BOOK REVIEW: ‘NATASHA, The Biography of Natalie Wood’ By Suzanne Finstad. July 30, 2001|MERLE RUBIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES. “One of the most striking things about Hollywood is the extent to which people all over the world came to regard it as the center of the universe. What the Holy Land was to true believers, Hollywood became to believers in make-believe. One such believer was Maria Gurdin, who fled her native Siberia in the wake of the Russian Revolution, ending up in Northern California. A woman of immense drive and ambition, she found an inspiring contrast to the struggle of her daily life in the movies. Quite simply, she made up her mind that her second child, pretty, dark-eyed Natasha, was going to be a star. In 1943, when the little girl was just 5, Maria literally thrust her into pictures, instructing her to hop into the lap of director Irving Pichel, who was shooting a movie on location in the rustic town of Santa Rosa. Although little Natasha got a tiny part in “Happy Land,” the kindly Pichel tried to warn Maria that the film business was no place for a sweet little girl. Maria’s response was to move the entire family to Hollywood.” Los Angeles Times.
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