AMONG ALL THE Hollywood writers originating from this side of the Atlantic, Gavin Lambert has long seemed to me to be the best. Of his many heirs, perhaps only Dominick Dunne has an equally expert and sensitive understanding of the dark side of the Hollywood dream factory. Although still most familiar for The Slide Area (a collection of short stories), Lambert is also the author of at least four major movie-star biographies, seven novels, and screenplays ranging from The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone to the Oscar-nominated Sons and Lovers. But he has only now found his quintessentially perfect subject in Natalie Wood, who back in 1966 starred in the film of his novel Inside Daisy Clover, yet another story of screen stardom in meltdown.
Second only to Judy Garland (and maybe now her daughter Liza Minnelli) in this respect, Wood was a textbook victim of her own desperation to be a star, and if she had not lived her all-too-short life then someone would have had to invent it as an awful warning about