The disappearance of the great actress Natalie Wood, who drowned on November 29, 1981, just 40 years ago, continues to haunt Hollywood. Especially since the case surrounding his suspicious death was reopened in 2018 …
Natalie Wood: accidental drowning … or murder? Forty years just after the tragedy, the affair surrounding the disappearance of the unforgettable actress continues to haunt Hollywood.
Aged 43 at the time of the drama, Natalie Wood was then considered one of the most gifted actresses of her generation. She had to her credit absolute masterpieces like The Fury of Living, The Fever in the Blood, West Side Story, The Prisoner of the Desert, Daisy Clover … Her relationship with Robert Wagner, her husband, was stormy. Married then divorced with him in 1957, she remarried with him in 1972.
Below, the announcement of his death on the news on November 29, 1981, on an American TV channel …
The case and the theories
In the early morning hours of November 28, 1981, the body of Natalie Wood was recovered, floating in the bay of Santa Catalina Island. The night before the discovery of her body, she had spent the evening in the company of Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken on board a Yacht. The official version (deposition) is that while Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner had a somewhat heated discussion, Natalie Wood went to bed in her cabin. When Wagner came by to say goodnight to her, she was not there.
The actress is found drowned two kilometers from the boat, in a nightgown and socks. Officially, her death is then considered an accidental drowning, despite the presence of more than twenty bruises all over the actress’s body, especially on her arms, as well as a trace of abrasion on her left cheek, found during his autopsy. Some accounts actually reported that a heated argument broke out between Wagner and Wood, presumably over Wagner finding the actress a little too close to her friend …
Some witnesses also reportedly heard screams for Wood’s help while she was in the water. Wagner and Walken claim the opposite. Wagner even claimed that she sought to leave the boat on her own, which is quite unlikely (but not impossible), as it is well known that Natalie Wood had a notorious fear of water.
In 2010, the ship’s captain, Dennis Davern, wrote a book in which he held Robert Wagner responsible for the actress’ death; the latter having knowingly delayed raising the alarm.
Cause of death? “Not determined” …
Following the allegations of the ex-captain, and also because the latter confirmed having lied during his deposition in 1981, the Los Angeles sheriff’s office declared to reopen the investigation on November 16, 2011. On July 11, 2012, the cause of Natalie Wood’s death goes from “accidental” To “not determined”, which once again relaunches the investigation.
Natalie Wood’s sister, Lana, remains convinced that Robert Wagner knowingly let Natalie drown. “My sister was not a swimmer and she could not swim, she would never have gone to another boat or to the coast wearing a nightgown and socks” Lana Wood told CNN in 2010.
On January 15, 2013, Natalie Wood’s cause of death was reclassified as “drowning and other undetermined factors”, due to the presence of bruises on the right forearm, left wrist and neck. These injuries are said to have been made before the body entered the water. These findings reignite speculation about the argument Natalie Wood allegedly had with her husband before she disappeared. However, the LAPD said neither Walken nor Wagner were considered suspects.
The coup de theater
Five years later, another twist. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office investigators declared at the end of January 2018 that Robert Wagner, 87 years old at the time, was now a “person of interest”; a legal status which can precede a formal designation as a suspect.
“We have been investigating for the past six years, and I think he is now considered more of the prime suspect.” said Lieutenant John Corina of the Sheriff’s Office. And to add: “We now know that he was the last person to have seen Natalie Wood alive before she disappeared”.
Unlike Christopher Walken, Robert Wagner refused to speak to investigators, which did not clearly argue in his favor: “The details of his account do not match the versions of the other witnesses interviewed; I think he is constantly changing the story, always a little more.[…]…