Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Really Happened to Natalie Wood?

Actress Natalie Wood was born this day in 1938. She died November 29, 1981.

How beloved was Natalie Wood by her Hollywood peers? Well, her pall bearers were: Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, David Niven, Fred Astaire and movie director Elia Kazan.

Her funeral was attended by over 1,000 people and included Elizabeth Taylor and Gene Kelly.

In life she starred in over 50 major motion pictures including some of the best and biggest of all time: Miracle on 34th Street, The Searchers, West Side Story, Splendor in the Grass, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Rebel Without a Cause and one of our all time personal favorites, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

She was nominated 3 times for an Academy Award and nominated multiple times for Golden Globes, winning twice.

Her death at age 43, remains an open mystery. Natalie was married a few times in her life and like Elizabeth Taylor two of those marriages were to the same man, Robert Wagner (Of recent Austin Powers movie fame.)

On the night in question, November 29, 1981, she was on her and Robert's yacht with fellow actor Christopher Walken and the boat Captain. She was found drowned the next morning, clad in a nightgown, jacket and socks. The official story is that she went outside late that night/early that morning to secure a dingy that kept banging against the boat, slipped, fell in the water and accidentally drowned.

Her sister, actress Lana, insists that Natalie would never go out at night like that and secure a boat. Besides, she had THREE other men on board that could have done that for her, including one (the Captain) that was on the payroll to specifically take care of that kind of thing.

The Captain insists to this day he saw and heard Natalie and Robert having a terrible fight on deck early that morning and that all of sudden Robert was alone saying, "she's gone." The implication here is that he threw her overboard or accidentally/inadvertently caused her to fall overboard.

The police ruled that because of the level of alcohol in her bloodstream (super high)and because they believed Wagner's story that is was an accident.

Christopher Walken has NEVER ONCE spoken publicly about that night. Wagner never said much either. His autobiography from a few years ago basically just says this:

According to Wagner, tensions came to the boil during a late dinner on the couple's yacht Splendor, which was moored off the island of Santa Catalina, near Los Angeles, after Walken suggested that Wood should star in more films instead of caring for two young children.

Wagner admits he lost his temper over the remark and smashed a wine bottle on the table, prompting Wood to go below to their cabin. He and Walken then went up on deck to cool down. At about midnight he returned to the cabin and discovered that his wife was missing. Then he realised that the yacht's dinghy had gone too. That's when he remarked to the Captain, "She's gone."

This implies that he thought maybe she had just taken the smaller boat to shore and left him. He was so drunk he might not have even known she was dead.

Her body was found by authorities later that day.

Her sister, Lana, as of March 2010, asked the LA police to re-open this "case" and reinvestigate. No word on that, but considering the LA police face thousands of homicides a year and this incident happened 30 years ago this November, we'd say it's over.

Lana's story is conveyed through this news article from a couple of years ago.

We'll never know what really happened that night unless Christoper Walken or Robert Wagner give some sort of tell all.

Until then, it's still up in the air...Lover's squabble that led to accidental death, drunken accident or deliberate murder...?


Anonymous said...

Nice Picture!! It reminds you of just how beautiful she was!!

Anonymous said...

Still to this day mystery shrouds that incident. Sadly we may never know what happened that caused her to drown, but I feel someone does, they won't say. She was too young and too beautifully talented to die. Such a loss.