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Natalie Wood's Supporting Roles: 3 Times the Star Shined Without Being Lead Actress

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 04:20 PM

Hollywood starlet Natalie Wood made her first appearance on the big screen at the age of 4 as an extra. From there, her career continued to move forward and she became known as “the brown-eyed doe” in Hollywood.

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In her brief life she shined in many leading roles, but she also earned her credits as a supporting actress. Here are three roles where Wood stood out as supporting actress:

1. Judy, “Rebel Without A Cause” (1955)
Wood was just 16 years old when she played the love interest of Hollywood hunk James Dean in the film. Though Dean is the star of this tale of teenage angst, his character relies heavily on Wood’s support. The pair goes through the trials and tribulations of being a young couple whose parents would rather not see together. In the end, love wins and the pair is united after tragedy strikes.

Forrest Hartman reviewed the film, giving it kudos in the Reno-Gazette Journal:

“Fine film about teenage angst and the coming of age. Terrific performances by James Dean and Natalie Wood.”

Wood received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work. Her role in this film was key as she transitioned into more adult roles.

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2. Karen Brace, “Brainstorm” (1983)
Wood appeared alongside Christopher Walken in this sci-fi adventure, which turned out to be her last film. Although the film started production in 1981, it was not released until after Wood’s death. She died before it was finished and a stand-in was used in some instances to complete her part.

Wood plays Karen Brace, who is the part of an experimental research team with her husband, played by Walken. The team attempts to translate brainwaves into thoughts. Their efforts on “Project Brainstorm” are met with opposition, especially from the government. The science they are tampering with has proven to be valuable and nearly fatal, but in the end the pair wind up together.

“However adversely it must have affected the morale of those involved in making ‘Brainstorm,’ the death of Natalie Wood hasn't damaged the film. Her performance feels complete. Playing a more mature character than she had done before, Miss Wood brought hints of a greater sturdiness and depth to this role, which is pivotal but relatively small,” wrote The New York Times.

3. Debbie Edwards, “The Searchers” (1956)
Though her role in the film was brief, Wood stars as the abducted niece of a confederate soldier (John Wayne) who has returned from war to search for her. The film takes aim at the racially charged turf war between the “cowboys and Indians.”  The New York Times called Wood “great in her supporting role.”

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Hollywood starlet Natalie Wood made her first appearance on the big screen at the age of 4 as an extra. From there, her career continued to move forward and she became known as “the brown-eyed doe” in Hollywood.
hollywood, natalie wood
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2015-20-13
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 04:20 PM
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