A Lady On The Loose—Natalie Wood
Hollywood, Friday: For weeks now, I’ve been pestering my studio, Warner Brothers, to send me to New York, and they’ve finally given in. I’m going there on a public appearance tour to promote “The Burning Hills” and star in “Burning Hills,” but Tab’s been to New York a lot more than I have and I don’t think he’s nearly as excited as I am. Besides, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of New York shows while Tab is really sorry to be saying goodbye to his horse, Swizzlestick, for so long. I certainly hope people don’t try to blow this up into a romance. Golly, I don’t know any girl who hasn’t been practically married to Tab, and yet, as far as I know, he’s never been really serious about any girl. But enough of that. Tomorrow I start to pack, and Tab and I and my tigers will get on a plane and set out for what I think is probably he most excitingly, breathtaking city in the world.
New York, Monday morning: I promised Photoplay I’d give them my diary of everything that happens to me on this trip, so here goes. The truth and nothing but the truth and no cheating! No saying I got flowers when I didn’t, for instance, and right now the room is as bare as a desert in wintertime. (I Nick Adams and Scott Marlowe read this and feel guilty.) But New York is so exciting that not having flowers waiting for me doesn’t really matter. The two most beautiful sights in the world, I ing, are the view you get when a plane circles over the International Airport in Los Angeles at night and over La Guardia Airport in New York in the morning. The nighttime sight in L.A. is breathtaking. A whole valley of lights stretched out below you, marching right to the foot of the distant mountains. In New York, there’s that magnificent skyline of buildings that seem to be thrusting their spires right into the low-hanging, early-morning clouds. I find myself thinking about the people who work in those offices, about the hurrying, scurrying executives. It must be exciting, I find myself thinking, to be a captain of industry. But I’m glad I’m what I am. Being a movie star is hard work, but it’s fun, too. The traveling, meeting new people. And the expense account. That’s the most! Of course, the studio only lets me charge everything because I’m actually working on these tours. I have seven interviews to give just today, for instance. Darn—someone’s at the door. I’ll bet it’s Dorothy Atlas. Well, diary, see you later.
Brother, am I tired! Tab Hunter can take it—in fact, he seems to thrive on it. And do the kids ever mob him—don’t they just! If I didn’t like him so much, I’d be jealous of him. I hope no one’s going to blow that item up into a romance rumor the way the columnists and all blew up those rumors about me and Nick Ray, who’s just a close friend of my family’s—and Raymond Burr, and I don’t know how many others. Even Scott Marlowe. Sure, I dated him and all, but there’s never been anyone I’ve really been serious about. Nick Adams and I gave everybody quite a scare when we went to Las Vegas and started pricing a marriage license and asking how long it took to get married. But Nick and I are both too serious about our careers to do anything foolish. When I do marry, though, I’m pretty sure it will be a spur of the moment thing because that’s the way I am. Now I guess a few more people will worry! But I’m just eighteen and it’s fun to have Nick and Scott both calling me practically every day. Yesterday, Nick called at one o’clock in the morning! I’d have been furious if I hadn’t been so glad to hear from him. Four interviews again today and two TV appearances and another magazine editor is due in about half an hour, and after that Tab and I go out on a picture layout. Then we get our reward: We go to see Sammy Davis, Jr., in “Mr. Wonderful.”
Same night, 12 o’clock:
I feel like Cinderella. Just came back from seeing “Mr. Wonderful” and Sammy Davis, Jr., was just that. Sitting up in bed, writing this, I can look out the window and see the tired horses and the hackies waiting beside the carriages that drive people in love through Central Park for five dollars a ride. Of course, tourists hire them, too, but usually it’s honeymooners you see sitting in back, holding hands, while the horse goes clip-clopping along, not paying a bit of attention to the cars roaring by. I don’t know why, but with the street lights on down there and a sort of early autumn mist creeping in off the river I find myself thinking of Jimmy Dean and how he used to tell me about walking through Central Park at night, sometimes alone, sometimes with a girl. He was broke and awfully lonely during those years. New York’s a wonderful place to be if you have money and success and all and can stay at a place like the Plaza, but it must be a sort of scary place to be alone in, or to be broke in. And yet every year, thousands of kids like Jimmy Dean come here with their reams of success and live in furnished rooms and ride the subways and sit alone at night, just hugging their dreams to them, waiting for the next day when they can start out again. I’d have done that, too, if I’d had to, but I’m glad I didn’t. There’s the phone and Nick’s call. Just in time, too. I’m getting sleepy. Good night, diary.
I’m a little ashamed of myself today. I really blew my top this morning and threw the temperament bit when my clothes came from Danny Linden in Hollywood. I took one look and I said, “Hideous. Absolutely hideous. How could that man be so stupid!” Miss Atlas insisted I try them on before bundling the lot of them up and sending them back, and I sounded pretty sullen as I said, “Well, all right.” And was my face red when each and every one of them fitted like a dream and, of course, looked altogether different on than they’d looked off. Another lesson in making snap judgments. A writer from one of the big weekly magazines just called and wants to do a story on me. I had to give him names and addresses of everyone I know in New York and Hollywood so he could ask them questions about me. I’ve often wondered what happens to people who get famous if they’ve done anything they’re ashamed of. I mean, once people start writing about you they find out everything. Good thing there are no skeletons in my closet! And speaking of closets, I go on a mad shopping spree tomorrow. New York clothes are so much smarter than the clothes you get in Hollywood. I want a pink raincoat with a belt, for one thing, and glamorous, sexy-looking negligees and nightgowns. Sometimes I wish I didn’t look so normal and healthy. I’d love to be a femme fatale, all hollow- eyed and hollow-cheeked. I only weigh ninety-five pounds but I still look disgustingly healthy. I’m wearing my hair a new way—straight bangs across my forehead and very short at the sides—and that makes my face look fuller. Now it’s five o’clock and time to go to the TV studio. Tab’s been looking awfully depressed today. Wonder what’s Must remember to ask him. See you later.
Nick and Scott both sent flowers and the living room smells like a flower shop! It’s great, though, and I love them both, except that you can’t love two people at one time, can you? Or can’t you? Sometimes I think being young is pretty grim. I mean, there are so many decisions you have to make—big decisions—decisions nobody can help you with. That reminds me of Tab. I talked to him at dinner—about the only meal we have that isn’t spent with interviewers, though sometimes even then we’re being interviewed through mouthfuls of food. But Tab feels his career’s in a real rut. He was feeling great after “Battle Cry,” but now he doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. He feels he’s growing out of those “boy next door” roles—“Even the boy next door has to grow up sometime,” he told me moodily, “so why can’t I?” He thinks his studio ought to find a real gutty sort of role for him. I think Tab ought to fall in love with someone. It’s easier to work out your life if there’s someone really close to you to whom you can pour out all that you’re thinking. Somebody besides your family, though families are great, too. That’s one of the wonderful things about having a close friend. One to whom you can tell anything and who will under- stand. I want the friend to feel the same way about me. Sometimes Nick or Scott calls me up at some crazy hour of the morning, like one or two o’clock, if we’re feeling low, and maybe talk for an hour. Well, there’s the phone. Wonder which it is? Nick or Scott? And then to bed.
It’s hard to believe the week is almost gone. Exciting! Well, next we go to Chicago, then St. Louis, then home. But I feel pretty much at home right here, in New York, to tell you the truth. I have my three tigers on the living room floor and everybody flips over them when they come in. Each one squeaks in a different key when you step on it—the mama tiger, the littler tiger and the baby tiger. Nick Ray started my collection. He gave me the first one when I finished “Rebel Without a Cause” and I’ve been getting them from special people or for a special occasion ever since. Have to go to a place called Hackensack, New Jersey, for a public appearance. See you later.
We were mobbed! Tab’s coat was torn, Miss Atlas coat was practically torn off her back, and I had my feet tramped on so many times they’ll never be the same! I’m soaking them right now while I finish this because tonight Tab and I are going to the “War and Peace” premiere. I didn’t really mind the mob scene because I know ic’s just because the kids like us, but sometimes it’s almost a little frightening. Boxes of clothes arrived today and I’ve got to see what I bought. A pale blue filmy negligee and half a dozen pairs of panties. Had the devil’s own time finding them because I wear a size five. Same with dresses. Even in the junior department I couldn’t find a size five. Maybe I’d better grow a little. If I don’t stop nibbling on the wonderful candy people are sending me, I’ll be growing in the wrong direction! Golly, but I’m tired. This is a three-room suite, and it’s been filled with interviewers from nine in the morning until five at night The phone never stops ringing and telegrams keep arriving. It’s a three-ring circus and I love it. Jeepers, it’s almost six. I’d better dress for dinner. I’m wearing a black lace dress over a pale, pale pink faille lining. It’s skin-tight and I have to wear my Merry Widow bra so that I don’t look too sexy, because I don’t think that’s in good taste. I bought a jeweled black velvet purse and I’ll carry that with me and maybe I’ll go real elegant and do the long white kid gloves bit. That’s another fun thing about New York. Everybody dresses up here, especially at cocktail and dinner time. There just isn’t any “cocktail” time in Hollywood because nobody gets home from the studio until six o’clock or later and by then it’s time to start thinking of dinner. Not that I drink, because I don’t, and I was furious about those silly stories that said I was seen with Scott drinking cocktails. That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. Actresses just can’t afford to drink. Everybody knows that liquor puts on weight quicker than anything and it does things to your skin, too. Darn! The phone again. Time to dress for dinner at Sardi’s. Kid, I tell myself, you’re really livin’. I am, too.
Having breakfast in bed as I write this, which is beautifully luxurious except that I’m one of those people who can’t sit still for very long and I’m wandering all over the place, eating as I go. I have breakfast in bed every morning at home, too. My mother’s done that for me for as long as I can remember. No wonder I don’t really want to leave home, though, of course, someday I’ll have to. It’s not right to stay in the nest too long. Maybe I’ll leave because I’m getting married or maybe just to have the fun of my own apartment. Pause for a New York Times interview. Wonder if I can receive a reporter in a negligee? Better not. I’ll wear the pale yellow. Very little-girl looking.
The Times man wanted to know how I refer to myself—as a child wonder, a child star or a starlet? I got a little annoyed at that; I hate “fresh” interviewers. Told him I refer to myself simply as an actress. He put it down, but he didn’t look very convinced. Someone from the New York Stock Exchange just called to sell me some stocks. I guess all movie stars are supposed to be rich. Wish I were! The Times man was impressed by the fact that I didn’t have a stop put on my calls. I said, “Why should I? Anyone who knows where I am is probably someone I want to see.” Miss Atlas and Tab just came in. Tab wants me to go to a movie with him. Will do. Everyone envies me all these dates with someone as handsome as Tab. All we talk about, though, is our careers. That’s all for now.
Tomorrow night we leave for Chicago. I wish the time hadn’t gone so fast. I’m sitting curled up in a big chair in the living room, my lunch on a tray, trying to remember all the things I’ve forgotten to remember. I’m wearing some of the new dreamy underwear I bought here—a white bra that’s just a wisp, really, and tiny, lace-trimmed panties. I feel nice and wicked, sitting like this, with pedicured toes and manicured fingers all done in platinum nail polish. There I go on that femme fatale bit again, but I guess it’s all just part of wanting to be grown-up and be a kid, too. That’s what my mother’s always telling me—that every teenager in the world has the same problem, wanting to be free and independent and yet afraid to be, still needing people who care about you to help you. Well, today is a last spurt of shopping and then tomorrow is church and rest before we take the plane to Chicago. Wonder if Chicago will be as much fun as New York? I doubt it, but here goes!
Chicago, Monday morning:
You say, “ten days” and it doesn’t seem like a long time—or does it? In ten days I’ve met dozens of people I never knew before, signed autographs for and exchanged greetings with thousands of others. In Chicago, we were mobbed as we were in New York, but, of course, Chicago holds none of the magic of New York or Hollywood. You land at a dingy airport that has a little lunchroom attached to it and no feeling of excitement. Chicago is sort of a small town that has the population of a big city, but that’s all. I mean, it’s sprawled out, with small town-big city feeling all mixed up together. The most beautiful part of it is Lake Shore Drive, with the big apartment houses that look as though their faces had just been washed yesterday, and the houses set well back on perfectly-kept lawns. Warners’ publicity woman, Maggie Waite, took over the job of companion here. Tab and I did a radio and TV show and then went out on Howard Miller’s yacht. It’s named The Disc Jockeysince, as you may know, Howard is one of Chicago’s leading disc jockeys. Had dinner at Chez Paree. Met Spike Jones and Helen Grayco. Loved the show Then another TV show and so to bed. It’s midnight and Nick called to say he’s glad I’m working my way home. I told him “working” was the word for it! Tomorrow we start home.
Tab and I devoted the whole day to sightseeing, with the photographers following us everywhere. Went to the Top of the Rock in the Prudential Building. Saw the whole city laid out at our feet. Had lunch up there. It was a wonderful sight. Later, had our picture taken standing beside the lions in front of the Chicago Art Institute. Then we went to a famous ice cream parlor and a famous book shop. Everywhere we went, the fans were there ahead of us. Dinner in the Ambassador East’s Pump Room. Tab and I danced. When we left the hotel, I was touched by a group of Puerto Rican children who had come there to serenade us as our luggage was being packed into the car. Then we went to Howard Miller’s TV show. I was grateful to Howard for not asking me to tell how I got started in movies one more time. Instead, Tab and I discussed techniques of acting and what is the best way to get ahead. As usual, we argued. We had free hours until the plane was scheduled to leave at 2 a.m. Tab decided to go hear Lurlean Hunter because he likes the way she sings “Lonesome Gal.” Maggie and I wanted to just walk up and down the streets, soaking up the last bit of Chicago atmosphere. Then we rushed to the airport, only to discover the plane was an hour late. I was so tired I was slaphappy so I decided to put on a show to keep everybody, including myself, awake. I pulled my turtleneck sweater up over my eyes and brushed my hair down over my forehead, picked up a “Little Lulu” book and started to read it. That sure startled everyone. I am an extrovert. And I do like to entertain. Everybody laughed. But Maggie was miffed with me when they weighed our luggage and mine was sixty-six pounds over. She said I could have at least left my three tigers at home!
Back in California at International Airport. A studio car took me home where I met my best friend, Barbara Gould. The two of us have rented a cottage at Malibu for two days.
I did nothing but sleep and talk to Barbara about the trip. We finished our weekend by cooking dinner for Nick at his house. I caught Nick up on all the things I hadn’t told him over the long-distance phone and we spent the rest of the evening discussing life, actors, politics, psychology, and what have you. And so ends the diary of Natalie Wood—at least, for now.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1956