As a traffic light turned green, Elvis Presley gunned the engine of his Harley Davidson, causing his passenger, Natalie Wood, to hold her headscarf more tightly. At the height of the singer’s early stardom, he’d brought his famous new girlfriend home to Memphis, TN — but it didn’t work out the way either expected.
Intrigued by 21-year-old Elvis’ music and image, Natalie, then 18, had asked her Rebel Without a Cause co-star Dennis Hopper to introduce them. She was charmed by their first dates. “To go to the movies, he bought out the theater,” Natalie’s sister Lana Wood exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “That’s not what she was used to.”
Elvis, meanwhile, was starstruck by Natalie, a former child actress. “She was in Miracle on 34th Street when he was a little boy,” Ray Connolly, author of Being Elvis: A Lonely Life, told Closer. The singer invited her home to impress his parents, but his mother Gladys soured on the actress quickly. “Natalie wore a very flimsy nightgown around the house,” Connolly shared. “Gladys was like, ‘Not in my house!’”
Natalie, meanwhile, found Elvis’ close relationship with Gladys troubling. “His mother said something like, ‘Come and sit on Mama’s lap,’” Lana recalled. “They were very affectionate, and it bothered Natalie. She called and asked our mom to make up a story about why she had to come home.”
Their brief romance ended with no regrets. “Later, he called her ‘Mad Nat,’ I think for how angry she got,” Connolly said. Natalie also put the trip behind her. “There were people that she idolized,” Lana said, “Elvis was not one of them.”
Years later, Elvis passed away in 1977 from a heart attack at age 42 and Natalie died from what was previously determined to be an accidental drowning in 1981 at age 43. The two lived very passionate and exciting lives and loved even harder!
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