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Natalie Wood in her Ukrainian national dress

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Natalia Zakharenko‘ is the real name of this Hollywood star actress (“West Side Story” film won 11 Academy Award nominations). Her grandparents had to leave the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, because of the “Russian Revolution”. Although born in the US, Natalie spoke Ukrainian and even Russian with strong Ukrainian accent. According to “Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood” book by Suzanne Finstad, for one of her Hollywood roles she had to “fine-tune her Russian dialect.. to lose her parents’ Ukrainian accent.” Natalia started acting at age four, and already as a teenager was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the ‘Rebel Without Cause‘. Below is her picture from that period with the famous Elizabeth Taylor. Natalie Wood starred in many films, but arguably she is mostly remembered for her role in the ‘West Side Story‘ musical. Some critics thought that in that role, Wood became the embodiment of the “restlessness of American youth in the 1950s”.

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