Ruby Red Lipstick and Natalie Wood Eyebrows
…what every teen girl wished for during our yesterdays.
Natalie Wood was probably one of the most photographed persons in the world. The camera loved her, from her chubby baby pictures to voluptuous adulthood. Her beauty was stunning. Her poise and bearing remarkable. During her meteoric ascendancy from adorably precocious child star to provocative Hollywood starlet, her image appeared on the cover of every movie magazine in print and graced the bedroom walls and scrapbook pages of teen girls all over the world. I was one of them.
For adolescent and teen girls in the ’50s and ’60s, Natalie Wood was a beautiful and accessible fashion icon and the standard-bearer for the latest trends in make-up and hairstyles. Her fashion statements were clear expressions of her self-declared independence during her later teens. And the cute do-it-yourself Pixie haircut, which she performed herself “with a pair of cuticle scissors”, became all the rage for her fans. Teen girls copied the short coif, often at their own embarrassing peril. But Natalie’s version worked perfectly for her, gracing multiple magazine covers and being adapted to fit characters she was playing in movies such as A Cry In The Night and The Girl He Left Behind.
Unlike today, when girls of my generation arrived at the so-called coming-of-age time in our lives, we looked forward to experiencing certain rites of passage. Certain firsts, e.g., the first lipstick, the first pair of nylon stockings, the first pair of high heel shoes, the first try at make-up, the first date. All of which required an even longer wait for Catholic girls, such as I was. But we experienced these milestones vicariously through our girl, Natalie Wood, who appeared to be living the life we all pined for. What’s more, she had what today’s young people refer to as “street cred”. She went on a date with Elvis. She was best friends with Tab Hunter and Nick Adams and Dennis Hopper and Perry Lopez. And ultimately, her screen kiss with James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause sealed her place as rebellious Hollywood royalty in our minds.
She was our star. Our very own. At a time when most Hollywood actors and actresses seemed distant and often detached from the real world we inhabited. But our Natalie was seemingly constant and available, and as close as another trip to the corner drugstore’s magazine rack. 20¢ — 25¢ each for the current issue of Modern Screen, Photoplay, Motion Picture, Movie Life, Movie Stars, Movie Mirror, or Screen Life, among others, all of which hit the stands around the first of the month. And the site of a smiling Natalie Wood image on the cover increased the publication’s must-have status and greatly increased the probability of my laying out my entire week’s allowance on sometimes up to eight or ten movie magazines at a time.
Her Sweet Collection of Stuffed Tigers
Her Ever-Evolving Sense of Fashion: Perfect for her in every way.
Her Signature Cuff Bracelets
Over the years there was always somewhat of a mystery about why Natalie chose to wear large cuff-style bracelets over her left wrist. It wasn’t until many years later that the real reason was revealed. When she was ten years old, Natalie had suffered a broken wrist during a collapsing bridge stunt on the set of the movie, The Green Promise, that she was filming. Apparently her wrist did not heal properly and left a protrusion, so she chose to cover it with what eventually became her signature piece of jewelry.
Her Own Take on Traditional Hollywood Glamour
Decades of glamorous Academy Awards ceremonies with her fans anxiously awaiting her appearance. And Natalie never disappointed.
An Enduring Legacy — A Memory That Will Never Fade
In the 38 years that she has been gone, the tendency to dwell on the profound tragedy of Natalie Wood’s untimely death has overshadowed her remarkable talent and her outstanding cinematic performances. What is also being missed is Natalie the mother. The photographic and videographic evidence of her all-consuming love for her daughters is utterly extraordinary. Fortunately, her beloved first-born, Natasha Gregson Wagner, is keeping her mother’s name and legacy alive with the Natalie Fragrance and Website, and the book Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life, which she co-authored with Manoah Bowman. Natalie’s complete story is there. “The Woman”, “The Actress”, “The Mother”.
As a fan, I would only add that the influence Natalie Wood had on adolescent and teen girls back in the ’50s and ’60s is memorable and everlasting. Every life-long fan will be forever grateful for the beautiful images and memories being shared on the website and in the book as well as for the unique opportunity of owning and wearing Natalie’s favorite Jungle Gardenia fragrance.
I will treasure mine always.