Yesterday, I noted that Eleanor Parker, though she had three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (no wins), really doesn't register as a huge movie star fifty years later. On the other hand, Natalie Wood, with two nominations (and also no wins), still does. Why?
Two reasons, I think: one, she was in at least two truly "classic" movies, a small role in John Wayne's greatest movie The Searchers, and then as Maria (although not singing, that was the inevitable Marnie Nixon) in West Side Story. Parker never had roles in movies that have lived on, and will continue to live on like those movies.
Second, and most obviously, she was just exceptionally great looking. Not sure anyone in Hollywood has ever come close.*
By the way, I had known that Marnie Nixon dubbed Maria (Wood) in West Side Story, and Liza (Audrey Hepburn) in My Fair Lady, but I hadn't known that she also did Anna (Deborah Kerr) in The King and I. Amazing! Probably the greatest three female roles in movie musicals ever.
*A third reason would probably also be her tragic and somewhat mysterious drowning death.