A portrait of actress Natalie Wood, circa 1957. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
  • Golden Globe Awards

Tomorrow’s Stars Yesterday: Natalie Wood, 1957

Carroll Baker and Jayne Mansfield shared the 1957 Golden Globe as New Star of the Year, neither achieved the star status of their fellow honoree Natalie Wood.

Baby DollElia Kazan’s daring version of Tennessee Williams’ short story, Carroll Baker emerged triumphantly: she was both Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated as Best Actress and one of the winners of the New Star of the Year Golden Globes. She would, however, never come close to that early acclaim, even though she remained a top star in the ‘50s and ‘60s and as a sex symbol graced some of the decade’s biggest box office winners including The Carpetbaggersand How the West Was Won.

Marilyn Monroe, essentially a parody of her blonde bombshell image, but never let us forget she was in on the joke. Before her tragic death in a car accident at the age of 33, she had appeared in The Girl Can’t Help Itfor which she earned her Golden Globe as New Star of the Year and earlier in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? arguably her two best movies.

West Side Storyand Splendor in the Grass.

Bette Davis, Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert, but it was her role in Miracle on 34th Street that convinced Fox to sign her to a contract. Even though she went toe-to-toe with Edmund Gwenn who played Santa Claus in that film (and won the Academy Award for the role), her years as a child actor were less than stellar, requiring her to play minor roles, invariably as a loving daughter, in impressive Fox films.

James Dean’s girlfriend in Rebel Without a Cause. Even before its release, Warner Bros. signed her to a long-term contract, but despite an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globe as New Star of the Year, they stuck her in a number of failed TV series.

John Ford, who rescued her by casting her as the abducted daughter in his classic western The Searchers. The reception of that film coupled with the sudden death of James Dean (they were to costar again in) convinced the studio to give her better parts, and she was rewarded with the title role in Marjorie Morningstarbased on Herman Wouk’s runaway bestseller. That role established her as a bona fide star, and from that moment on she had her choice of projects, first costarring opposite Frank Sinatra and Tony Curtis in Kings Go ForthJames Garner in Cash McCall, and finally nurturing her future husband Robert Wagner in All the Fine Young Cannibals

Splendor in the Grasswhich introduced another young actor, Warren Beatty, to the screen and to her life. They soon became lovers and front-page news. The film was a critical and box office smash, and she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar as Best Actress. Beatty, however, had to settle for our New Star of the Year award.

Robert Wise’sWest Side Story. It was the year’s most coveted role, and she carried the film beautifully, but she ended up sidelined because her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon. The film itself won 10 Oscars and three Golden Globes and even though she received no acting honors for it, it remains her most famous role.

GypsyRosalind Russell and as Steve McQueen’s love interest in Love With a Proper StrangerFor both, she was nominated for Golden Globes as Best Actress. She graced the studio’s A-list films, Sex, and the Single GirlThe Great Race

Inside Daisy Cloverfor which she was again nominated for a Golden Globe, she hooked another interesting newcomer: Robert Redford.She followed it with Sydney Pollack’sThis Property Is Condemned,

Paul Mazursky’s groundbreakingBob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Meanwhile, her love life had overtaken her acting career, first it was James Dean, then Robert Wagner, then she ditched him for Warren Beatty, then back to Wagner. It had a toll on her career and suddenly she was appearing in a TV miniseries, although a good one. From Here to Eternity

Christopher Walken and her reconciled husband Robert Wagner were on the boat with her on that ill-fated night. She was only 43 at the time.