With the holidays approaching, it’s only a matter of time before seasonal movie favorites play on televisions nationwide.
Though generally a Christmas film, the opening scenes of Miracle on 34th Street occur on Thanksgiving Day, alongside the annual Macy’s parade.
For actress Natasha Gregson Wagner, the 1947 movie holds special significance.
“I don’t recall the first time my mother showed me Miracle on 34th Street,” Wagner said, “but I remember as a child knowing she was in the cast and enjoyed watching her as a little girl.”
That little girl is legendary actress Natalie Wood — Wagner’s mother — in one of her first major roles.
“The first time I saw my mom on the television was on one of those big old square box sets, and I found it a little scary,” Wagner said. “I even went around the back to try and figure out how she got inside!”
Thanksgiving meals with her mother remain memorable for Wagner, as well.
“She loved Thanksgiving, which was always very festive,” Wagner said. “Our house was filled with a large extended family. But my mom was not a big cook, so a lovely couple, Helen and Gene, would prepare the dinner every year. And Willie-Mae [the housekeeper and nanny], who helped raise us, would make sweet potato pie in a hulled-out orange shell topped with marshmallows. Delicious!”
Wagner contributed some of her photos of, and thoughts about, Natalie Wood to Manoah Bowman’s 2016 book, Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life.Wagner also co-produced the 2020 TV documentary Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. And, two years ago, she created a line of products her mother’s fans might enjoy, including gardenia scented candles and perfume.
“When I was growing up, my mom always burned scented candles, and gardenia was her favorite scent,” Wagner said. “Our ‘Natalie’ perfume [is] gardenia-based, too, with my favorite citrus notes added, such as orange blossom.”
With fragrances from contemporary entertainers like Mariah Carey and Kim Kardashian dominating today’s market, could a perfume named after a classic film star compete?
“You’d be surprised,” Wagner said. “A lot of young people seem to know who my mother was, especially if their parents grew up watching her movies. But it’s also a modern fragrance that speaks to young women.”
She added: “For those familiar with my mother, it’s a way to celebrate her life.”