Wood in 1982
|Born||Svetlana Nikolaevna Zakharenko
March 1, 1946
Santa Monica, California, United States
|Spouse(s)||Jack Wrather, Jr.
(m. 1962, annulled)
(m. 1968–1972, divorced)
Lana Wood (born Svetlana Nikolaevna Zakharenko Russian: Светла́на Николаевна Захаренко on March 1, 1946) is an American actress and producer. Wood was born to Russian émigré parents, Nikolai and Maria Zakharenko, and is the younger sister of actress Natalie Wood. Her first major role was at age 9 in the John Wayne western The Searchers. She was a regular on the soap opera Peyton Place. She is best known for her role as Plenty O'Toole in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. She appeared in a number of small films and television guest roles throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Wood was born Svetlana Nikolaevna Zakharenko to Russian parents, but they grew up far from their homeland: her father lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while her mother grew up in a Chinese province. After her parents were married, they settled in Santa Monica, California, where Lana was born. By this time her parents had legally changed their surname to Gurdin. Her older sister was actress Natalie Wood. They have a half-sister, Olga Viriapaeff, from their mother's previous marriage.
As an infant, Wood appeared in Driftwood (1947), but her scene was deleted from the final version of the film. Lana's first credited film role was in director John Ford's western classic The Searchers (1956), which stars John Wayne and also features Wood's sister Natalie; Lana and Natalie play the same character at different ages, with similar amounts of screen time. Natalie's stage name was Wood, given to her by the producer of her first film. Maria was asked under what last name Lana should be credited, and Maria agreed it would be best if she could be credited as "Wood," like her sister. As a child, she also made guest appearances in Playhouse 90 (1957), The Real McCoys (1958), and appeared in the films Marjorie Morningstar (1958) and Five Finger Exercise (1962).
Early in her adult career, Lana played bit parts in Natalie's films; but, in the 1960s, her own career took off. One of her roles was in the beach party film The Girls on the Beach (1965). After appearing in the short-lived drama series, The Long, Hot Summer, she landed the role of Sandy Webber in the prime-time soap Peyton Place, which she played from 1966 to 1967.
In 1971, Wood appeared in the April 1971 Playboy issue, along with her poetry. The publicity was a major reason for her being cast as Bond girl Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). In a scene with Sean Connery, she appeared wearing only a flimsy pair of see-through panties. Wood had only three minutes of screen time in the film, though it remains her best-known role to date.
Wood has more than 20 other films and over 300 television shows to her credit, including The Fugitive, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Police Story, Starsky and Hutch, Nero Wolfe, Fantasy Island, and Capitol. Some of her other film roles have been in the Disney film Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1972) and the western Grayeagle (1977). After appearing in the horror film Demon Rage (1982), she retired from acting, concentrating on her career as a producer. In 2004, she produced the biopic The Mystery of Natalie Wood. She recently returned to acting and has several projects in production. Lana is a character in the 2009 Steve Alten book Meg: Hell's Aquarium.
After a 23-year hiatus, Wood resumed her acting career in 2008. Since then, she has appeared in many low-budget, straight-to-DVD films such as The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith (2009) and Deadly Renovations (2010).
Wood had five failed marriages by the time she was 29 years old. Her first marriage was at age 16 to Bonita Granville's stepson Jack Wrather III in 1962; the marriage was annulled the same year. Her second marriage, at age 18, was in 1964 to Karl Brent. Her third and fourth marriages, in the late 1960s when she was in her early twenties, were to Steve Oliver and Allan Balter. In 1973, at age 27, Wood married her fifth husband, Richard Smedley. Wood gave birth to their daughter, Evan, on August 11, 1974. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975, and Wood has not since remarried. In the 1980s, Wood cohabited with actor Alan Feinstein.
On November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood drowned near Catalina Island under peculiar circumstances. Lana has said: “The person I loved more than anybody else, with the sole exception of my own daughter, is dead. I cry for her often. I expect I always will." Later, their mother Maria, who had Alzheimer's disease, moved in with Lana. Maria Gurdin died on January 6, 1998. Lana wrote a book about her experience with Maria, which was not published.
In 1984, Wood published the book Natalie: A Memoir by Her Sister (ISBN 0399129030), in which she states that Natalie's widower, Robert Wagner, broke off contact with Wood following Natalie's death, and refused to let Wood see her two nieces: Natasha Gregson (Natalie's daughter with Richard Gregson, whom Wagner gained custody of) and Courtney Wagner. In the book, Wood also stated that she had affairs with actors Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Alain Delon, and Warren Beatty.
In 2002, Wood cooperated with author Suzanne Finstad for the book Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood (ISBN 0609809571), which contained controversial allegations that her former brother-in-law Wagner is a closeted homosexual and was responsible for her sister's death.
- The Searchers – (1956), Debbie Edwards (younger)
- Have Gun – Will Travel – (1958), Becky Coldwell ("The Teacher")
- Five Finger Exercise – (1962), Mary
- The Fool Killer – (1965), Alice
- The Girls on the Beach – (1965), Bonnie
- The Long, Hot Summer – (TV) (1965–1966), Eula Harker
- Peyton Place – (TV) (1966–1967), Sandy Webber – unknown episodes
- The Wild Wild West – (TV series) (1967), Vixen O'Shaughnessy ("The Night of the Firebrand")
- For Singles Only – (1968), Helen Todd
- Scream Free! – (1969), Karen
- The Wild Wild West – (TV series) (1969), Averi Trent ("The Night of the Plague")
- Black Water Gold – (TV) (1970), Eagan Ryan
- The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again – (TV) (1970), Katie Flavin
- O'Hara, U.S. Treasury – (TV) (1971), Fran Harper
- Diamonds Are Forever – (1971), Plenty O'Toole
- Justin Morgan Had a Horse – (1972), Kathleen
- A Place Called Today – (1972), Carolyn Schneider
- QB VII – (TV miniseries) (1974), Sue Scanlon
- Who Is the Black Dahlia? – (TV) (1975), Boarder
- Nightmare in Badham County – (TV) (1976), Smitty
- Corey: For the People – (TV) (1977), Janet Hanley
- Speedtrap – (1977) New Blossom
- Grayeagle – (1977) Beth Colter
- A Question of Guilt – (TV) (1978), Elizabeth Carson
- Captain America – (TV) (1979), Yolanda
- Captain America II: Death Too Soon – (TV) (1979), Yolanda
- Born to Be Sold – (1981) (TV) (assistant to executive producer)
- Satan's Mistress – (1982), Lisa
- Murder Me, Murder You – (TV) (1983) – associate producer
- Capitol – (TV series) (1983), Fran Burke – unknown episodes
- The Mystery of Natalie Wood – (TV) (2004) – co-producer
- Wild Michigan – (2008), Opal
- The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith – (2009), Tani
- Last Wish – (short) (2010), Helen
- When Happy Met Froggie – (documentary) (2011), herself
- Wood, Lana (1984). Natalie Wood: A Memoir by Her Sister. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-12903-0.
- Finstad, Suzanne (2002). Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0609809570.
- Paul, Louis (2008). "Lana Wood". Tales From the Cult Film Trenches; Interviews with 36 Actors from Horror, Science Fiction and Exploitation Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 300–306. ISBN 978-0-7864-2994-3.
- "Lana Wood". The New York Times.
- Canby, Vincent (December 18, 1971). "Diamonds Are Forever (1971) A Benign Bond: 007 Stars in 'Diamonds Are Forever'". The New York Times.
- Sunday Times Magazine, 31 May 2009
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