Natalie Wood was born Natasha Gurdin in San Francisco on July 20, 1938, the daughter of Russian immigrant parents.
When she was 4, the family moved to Santa Rosa, Calif., where Irving Pichel, the director, was making a 20th Century-Fox film, ”Happy Land” He gave her and her mother, Maria, a former ballerina, small parts.
Two years later, Mr. Pichel cast the child as a waif in ”Tomorrow Is Forever.” She proved something of a scene stealer and in 1944, with her name changed, began earning $1,000 a week. After her appearance in ”Miracle on 34th Street,” with Maureen O’Hara and John Payne, with Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus, she was acclaimed by some as Hollywood’s best child actress.
Her breakthrough into young adult roles came at 17 in 1955 in ”Rebel Without a Cause,” with James Dean.