I read the book, Natalie: A Memoir by Lana Wood this week. This is supposed to be the story of Natalie Wood the famous actress of Rebel Without A Cause and West Side Story who died under mysterious circumstances while on her boat with husband Robert Wagner and friend, Christopher Walken, as told by her actress/producer sister.
I say ‘suppose to be’ because it really isn’t. This is really the story of Lana Wood (sorta). If you want to know about Natalie Wood, this will only touch on some milestones but don’t expect any detail from this book. Even though 75% of this book is about Lana, you get no depth there either.
There are no behind the scene looks at the movies Natalie or Lana made. There is no speculation or in-depth look at why Natalie did some of the things she did, like marry Wagner twice, or what she thought of the movies she was in, or the reason behind her seeing a shrink almost her entire life. Lana just tells you Natalie did those things then goes on to say something about herself.
There is little kiss and tell in the book although you quickly learn that Lana liked to chase the same men that Natalie did. Lana does do a little kiss and tell on herself when it comes to Warren Beatty and Sean Connery and her marriage that ended violently. That marriage is a good example though of what is wrong with this book. She tells about the night it ended violently and she fled the apartment with her child but she never actually says what the husband did. You don’t know if he hit her, threatened to kill her, raped her or what. She just says it happened then leaves it to sit there.
What you do come away with is a portrait of two very shallow and petty women who would sleep with someone if there was benefit to it or drop friends over the least egotistical driven issue. Shopping for stuff they didn’t need pretty much summed up their value system.
It is also clear from the very first chapter that Lana doesn’t like Robert Wagner and that the feeling is mutual. She says she doesn’t know why Wagner has no contact with her but you get the feeling she may be lying about that. The impression is she is holding back and refusing to let the reader inside the real story.
It is a shame the book turned out this way because it would’ve been nice to have learned something about Natalie. Her sister could’ve shown a little less selfishness and let readers explore and appreciate who Natalie really was. In the end, the death of Natalie Wood will be all people really remember of her and despite the efforts in this book, Lana won’t be remembered at all other than for not knowing how to write a real memoir.