In 1981, actress Natalie Wood drowned due to misadventure. Or at least that was the initial version of the story. Over the years, the circumstances around Wood’s death have changed. Today, there has been another shift in the case, with actor Robert Wagner being named a person of interest. Are we finally on the way to finding out what really happened to Natalie Wood the night she died? And if someone killed her, will they finally be brought to justice? We have the latest information on this intriguing case of Hollywood death.
Natalie Wood’s Death: Version One
Natalie Wood had grown up in Hollywood. She had begun her career as a child star and continued acting into adulthood. She had reconnected with an earlier love, actor Robert Wagner, remarrying him in 1972. The couple had a lovely daughter in 1974. By all appearances, it looked like Wood was ready to start the next act in her life and career.
But on November 28, 1981, Wood had been sailing on the Splendour with Robert Wagner, actor Christopher Walken, and the captain of the Splendour, Dennis Davern. At some point in the evening, Wood got into a dinghy. It was reported that she rowed away from the yacht, fell out of the dinghy, and drowned.
Wood’s body would be recovered the next morning; the dinghy was found beached not too far from the body. The death was ruled an accidental drowning for a number of years, but certain things didn’t add up.
Wagner, Walken, and Davern were all question by police and nothing out the ordinary was mentioned other than everyone had been drinking that night.
Natalie Wood’s Death: Version Two
While for the most part, the story didn’t change too much, a new wrinkle was added. Wagner would later recall that he and Walken had gotten into an argument over how Wood should treat her career. Wood left at some point during the argument. The rest of the details remained the same with the exception of that one new piece of information.
Natalie Wood’s Death: Version Three
In 2001, a drunk Davern reportedly spoke to Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, and told her that he had lied to police about what had happened to Natalie. According to Davern, Wagner had pushed Wood into the water after an argument to teach her a lesson.
Davern contends that while Wagner did not drown Wood, he did nothing to save her either.
Davern would later tell a similar story to 48 Hours and The Today Show in 2013. The case would be reopened in 2011 and ended with Wood’s cause of death being changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” The case would go dormant again until 2013.
The Current Investigation
The roots in the current investigation lie with an addendum that was added to Natalie Wood’s autopsy report. The major addition was the fact that Wood had a number of bruises on her body as if she had been in a fight or had been assaulted.
In 2018, the investigation has once again begun to pick up steam. Things just don’t add up. Why would Wood, who had stated in interviews that the dark, deep water of the ocean frightened her a great deal, get into a small dinghy?
Where did the bruises come from if not from a fight or an assault? Why wasn’t Wood reported missing for four hours? The one man whose story who may be able to answer these new questions fully, Robert Wagner, isn’t talking.
According to the police investigating the case, Wagner has refused to speak to them since the investigation resumed. Dennis Davern has spoken to them, as has Christopher Walken. As a result of the new evidence gathered, police would like to have a word with Wagner and currently consider him a “person of interest” in the case. This will be a fascinating case to follow over the next few months.