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Lana Wood

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Basic Information

Lana Wood

Date of Birth: 1 March 1946
Place of Birth: Santa Monica, California, USA
Birth Name: Svetlana Nikolaevna Gurdin
Height: 5' 3" (1.60 m)


Lana Wood (born Svetlana Nikolaevna Zakharenko on March 1, 1946) is an American actress and producer. She was born to Russian émigré parents, Nikolai and Maria Zakharenko, and is the 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 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. She appeared in a number of small films and television guest roles throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Early life

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.

Child actress

As an infant, Lana appeared in Driftwood (1947), but her scene was deleted from the final version of the film. Lana's first credited film role was in the 1956 western classic The Searchers (1956), which starred John Wayne and also featured Lana's sister Natalie. 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 film Marjorie Morningstar (1958).

Adult career

Early on in her adult career, Wood usually played bit parts in films Natalie appeared in. Starting 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 in the role of Sandy Webber in the soap series Peyton Place. She played the role from 1966 to 1967.

In 1971, Lana was approached to pose for Playboy by Hugh Hefner and agreed. The Playboy pictures appeared in the April 1971 issue, along with Wood's poetry. Even though her sister strongly disapproved of Wood's move to pose nude, the publicity was a major reason for her being cast as Bond girl, Plenty O'Toole, in the 1971 James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, in which, in one scene with Sean Connery, she appeared wearing only a flimsy pair of see-through panties .

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 1984, Wood published the controversial tell-all book Natalie, A Memoir by Her Sister, shortly after the death of her sister. The book reached #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List. 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 new Steve Alten book "Meg: Hell's Aquarium".

Personal life

Lana has married and divorced five times, all by age 29. Her first marriage at age 16, to Jack Wrather Jr, was annulled after a few months. Her second marriage at age 18 was to Karl Brent. In her early 20s she was married to Steve Oliver and Allan Balter. Lana married a fifth time at 26 to Richard Smedley in 1973. They have a daughter, Evan Taylor Maldonado, born on August 11, 1974. They separated and divorced in 1975. In the 1980s she had a long-term relationship with actor Alan Feinsten.

Wood was romantically involved with actors Warren Beatty, Ryan O'Neal, Alain Delon, and Sean Connery. She talks about these relationships with detail in her autobiography.

On November 29, 1981, Wood's sister Natalie drowned near Catalina Island under suspicious 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 on, 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. She is estranged from her two nieces: Natasha Gregson and Courtney Wagner.

After Lana published her tell-all memoir Natalie: A Memoir by Her Sister, her former brother-in-law Robert Wagner broke off contact with Lana. Wagner later married actress Jill St. John, who was a childhood acquaintance of Natalie's and co-starred with Lana in Diamonds Are Forever. In the spring of 2000, the women became involved in an altercation during a cover shoot for Vanity Fair featuring the Bond Girls. Lana cooperated with author Suzanne Finstad on her biography of Natalie, Natasha, in which Finstad suggests Wagner played a part in Natalie Wood's death.

She has three grandchildren: Nicholas (b. 1998), Daphne (b. 2000), and Max (b. 2002).

Her daughter Evan had Hodgkin's lymphoma in the early 2000s. Lana spent her life savings to pay the chemotherapy bills and has since had several financial issues. In 2008 her house was foreclosed.

Lana currently lives in Thousand Oaks, California.


  • Natalie, A Memoir by Her Sister. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1984. ISBN 0399129030


  • The Searchers - (1956), Debbie Edwards (younger)
  • 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
  • For Singles Only - (1968), Helen Todd
  • Scream Free! - (1969), Karen
  • 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
  • Greyeagle - (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


  • 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. 



  • Estranged aunt of Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner.
  • Author of "Natalie: A Memoir by her Sister" (1984).
  • Made one movie with her older sister, Natalie Wood, The Searchers (1956).
  • She did not endear herself to family members after her blatant memoir on late sister Natalie came out in 1985.
  • Her parents are Russian immigrants.
  • Her father changed the family's last name to Gurdin before she was born, which is why her sister Natalie Wood carried the original family last name Zackharenko at birth while Lana herself carried the new last name.
  • Has a daughter, Evan, and three grandchildren - Daphne, Nicholas, and Max.
  • Best known for playing Bond girl Plenty O'Toole, the unfortunate casino gal who gets thrown half naked out of a hotel window and into a pool in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). She was 25 then.
  • Two of Lana's scenes as Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) were deleted from the final film but are now available on DVD. The first scene is a deleted scene of Lana having dinner with Sean Connery. The second scene took place after Lana was thrown half naked into the pool; she returned to James Bond's apartment, soaking wet, wearing nothing but a white towel and to get the rest of her clothes and see what has become of Bond and sees him making love to Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). Before leaving, an agitated Lana took a card out of Tiffany's purse with her address on it; this second scene accounted for her death later in the film.
  • Measurements: 36C-24-35 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine).
  • Said that she had to stand on a box during most of her scenes with Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) because even with high heels she was too short to fit into the camera frame with him.
  • Is portrayed by Nathalie Roy in The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004) (TV).
  • In two of her films her character is prominently featured being sent out of a window. In The Searchers (1956), where she played the younger version of her older sister Natalie's character, she is sent out of a window and told to hide from the Indians who are coming to attack their range. In Diamonds Are Forever (1971) her character, Plenty O'Toole, is thrown half naked out of a hotel window to almost certain death (but survives by landing in the pool).
  • Both she and her sister Natalie Wood have played the love interest of Richard Beymer in 2 separate films: she as Karen opposite Richard's Dean in Scream Free! (1969) (aka Free Grass), and Natalie as Maria opposite Richard's Tony in West Side Story (1961).
  • Aunt of Courtney Wagner.
  • In July 2007, she was a guest at the Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina along with Betty Lynn, Jacqueline Scott, Lynn Borden, Joyce Meadows, Brett Halsey, Rick Lenz and Robert Dix.