Jul 7, 2006

Lana, Wood You Go Away?

It must be difficult being Lana Wood. Growing up in the shapely shadow of older sister Natalie, feeling second-rate as her own career skittered along in walk-on roles on obscure television shows while the other Ms. Wood snagged movie star boyfriends and the top row on movie marquees worldwide - it couldn't have been easy on the girl. Nothing, however, justifies her authoring a tell-all book about her beautiful and effervescent sister that focuses largely on herself.

Natalie: A Memoir By Her Sister could perhaps be more appropriately titled Lana: A Self-Indulgent Narcissist Recalls Her Former Married Lovers and Talks About When Her Sister, Who Was A Famous Movie Star, Used to Hang Out with Her. The book opens with Lana's recollections of watching her big sister film the famous racing scene from Rebel Without A Cause, then reaches back to flesh out the sisters' family history up through Natalie's untimely drowning in 1981 at just 43. The insightful anecdotes and juicy inside stories Lana tells, though, are scattered amidst multi-page descriptions of her own unsuccessful film career, vivid details of her trysts with married lovers, and an in-depth portrait of her daughter's birth and infanthood. Nat fans who pick up the book to indulge in a veritable list of Natalie's fabulous wardrobe and her favorite pieces of jewelry will first have to endure pages of Lana's sexual encounters with Sean Connery and Alain Delon ('I would characterize Alain as the perfect fling'); to uncover a gem of a tale about Nat's seaside antics while on vacation (she pranked a local restaurant and convinced them they'd been held up), one would best be prepared to hear about how upset Lana was upon discovering someone had mistakenly gotten her birth-control pills wet in the bathroom. This book obviously had no editor, or if it did, it was one hypnotized by the potential for huge profits that a racy tell-all book on tragically dead Natalie Wood could reap.

Here's a sample of Lana's 'Me too!' style of writing:

"Natalie wore a jacket and a skirt of green and gold cut velvet...She looked stunning. I wore a plain black dress with long sleeves and an open back that was draped to the waist. I looked stunning too." (190)

Wow...riveting. I guess I shouldn't expect Tennyson-like prose or deep, thought-provoking passages from a juicy, scandal-soaked celebrity memoir fished from the dollar bin at my local library, but I am floored by the phenomenal self-centeredness of its author. Insecure, overshadowed and discouraged, this younger sister of a still-brilliant star is too close to the story's heart to give a focused homage - and too selfish to even try. Buy it secondhand (or relieve a disgusted owner of it) for the photos, then burn the rest of this drivel before it sours your love for Natalie Wood.

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