in , ,

Natalie Wood’s Death Still Mysterious After 40 Years

Natalie Wood had an incredibly impressive run in show business. For forty-plus years, she starred a whole slew of silver-screen classics. She takes in three Golden Globes, nominates for three Oscars, and gets steamy romances that are the envy of Hollywood.

Outside of her professional life, she was an outspoken advocate for mental health, women’s rights, and LGBTQ equality. Also, she managed to successfully make the jump from film to television – a feat that was hard to pull off in the day.

Against The Patriarchal Misogyny

She was a bit of a fireball. She pushed back against the patriarchal misogyny that was prevalent in Hollywood at the time and demanded that actresses receive equal pay to their male counterparts. Truly, truly was ahead of her time in so many ways.

But all of that seems to be overshadowed by the mysterious circumstances surrounding her untimely death on November 28, 1981. While on an evening outing on a yacht with her fellow co-stars from the film Brainstorm – namely Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken and the captain of the vessel Dennis Davern – Woods goes missing only to die a mile away near California’s Catalina Island.

Both Captain Davern and Natalie’s sister, Lana Wood, believe that Robert Wagner played a role in her drowning, but he has persisted for decades in upholding his innocence. Stay tuned to find out if his story really adds up. Something definitely seems fishy about the whole thing.

Wood’s Daughter Believes Her Step-Father’s Story

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind is a documentary produced by Natalie’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and was released back in May 2020.

In the film, Natasha attempts to put the obsession with her mother’s death to rest by painting a picture of her life’s accomplishments, intimate relationships, and her commitment to her work, but despite the fact that she tries to shy away from focusing on her death, it’s obviously a subject that can’t ignore. It’s a part of her story, and the mystery remains.

In the documentary, Natasha Wagner interviews her 90-year-old stepdad about the night her mother went missing and drowned. He gave his side of the story and insisted that he was completely innocent when it came to having anything to do with her death. It becomes clear that the film produces, in part, to clear Wagner’s name.

Regardless of whether he killed her or not – which we’ll take a closer look at in a second – it’s incredible how Natalie’s death still raises so many questions. Even 40 years after her passing, it’s fascinating that the public is intrigued by her demise. What is it about her final curtain call that sets it apart from all the other inexplicable celebrity deaths that have happened over the years?

There’s Nothing Like A Real-World Mystery

Just look at Elvis Presley, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Kurt Cobain and see how the questions that their deaths have raised have resonated with fans for years after they took their final breaths. But even those deaths can hardly be mysterious. Sure, they leave us with some gaps in knowledge that leave plenty of room for conspiracy theories and such, but for the most part, we know how, why, and when they died.

Natalie’s death on the other hand leaves us with a lot more to speculate about. The circumstances surrounding her exit from this life are quite troubling indeed – and the basics of how and why she dies are still a question.

What we do know is that Wood drowned but what we still don’t understand is how did she enter the water in the first place? Did she slip and fall in? Is she shoveS? Did someone intentionally drown her?

Natalie Wood’s Bruises And Abrasions

Her autopsy reveals that she gets bruises and abrasions all over her body and it never determines where those marks come from – or who might have inflicted them on her. Was there some kind of struggle?

When so many questions are open, it’s within our nature to try and fill in all of the gaps with speculation, wild guesses, and accusatory supposition. We love to point the finger.

Over time, new info has come to light that has shifted the way that we look at her death. We can’t simply assume that we know as a matter of fact what happened on the fateful excursion. Especially, when you consider what happened in 2011.

Captain Davern’s New Testimony

The captain of the Splendour, Dennis Davern, made a shocking claim in 2011 on the Today Show. He revealed that on the evening of Wood’s disappearance, he heard Robert Wagner and Natalie arguing. He also revealed that he initially lied to the police in his first report.

During that interview, he also made the assertion that he thinks that Wagner was directly responsible for Wood’s death.

Additionally, a woman by the name of Marilyn Wayne also came forward and testified that she, her son, and her partner at the time were on another boat that evening roughly 120 feet away from the Splendour. They are sound asleep when they are awake by the sound of a woman crying for help.

Wayne As A Witness

They tried to spot the woman themselves but they couldn’t see anything. Also, they tried to contact the harbor patrol but with no luck. Wayne further asserts that she hears a man’s voice that sounded aggravated say ”Hold on, we’re coming to get you.”

According to Wayne, after about 15 minutes, the cries for help then went quiet. The couple then returned to bed, exceptionally distressed by what they had just heard.

Wayne claims that investigators never questioned her about what she and her boyfriend had witnessed and that several days after the incident, she received a message on a ripped piece of paper that essentially said that if she valued her life then she should keep quiet.

Granted, it’s odd that Ms. Wayne waited so long to come forward with what she knows.

The Plot Thickens And The Police Amend The Case

In 2018, after several new witnesses came forward with new information in the case, The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office officially amended the cause of Natalie’s death. While initially, it is an accidental drowning, they consider it to be ‘drowning with other undetermined factors.’

The police now view the death to be suspicious and Robert Wagner consider a ‘Person of Interest’. Although, it says that he isn’t a suspect as of yet.

More Unanswered Questions

When taking a look back at Natalie’s life, peculiar and unusual coincidences raise more eyebrows about the mystery surrounding her death.

According to the New Yorker, Ms. Wood’s mother once visited a psychic that told her that her daughter would die in ‘dark water’. If that’s not a spooky little detail that sounds like something straight out of a mystery novel, then we don’t know what is.

Wood had always been afraid of water. She once told the New York Times that she was absolutely terrified of what she called ‘dark water’ and ‘seawater’.

Another weird coincidence happened on the set of the 1964 film Sex and the Single Girl, where Wood had a scene where she had to save Tony Curtis from drowning. There’s some old footage that shows her stepping into the water assisted by trained divers. Although it wasn’t captured on camera, apparently when she came up for air, she was freaking out and could hardly be consoled.

Wood’s Prolific Career Spanned Generations

One of Natalie Wood’s early notable credits was in the film Rebel Without a Cause. Her co-star James Dean would die in a horrific car crash that same year at the young age of 24.

Celebrities who die young hold a special legacy in our culture. Members of the so-called ’27 club’ like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, who all died at the age of 27, have inspired generations of fans to be fascinated with their lives and works – which almost seem to be suspended in time.

When someone dies so young, they end up being more famous posthumously than when they were alive. James Dean only ever starred in 8 films but he will always represent the very paradigm of what was considered ‘cool’ in the 1950s. Morrison, Hendrix, and Joplin will likewise always be synonymous with the peace and love generations psychedelic sound despite the fact that they had only released a handful of albums before their deaths.

Natalie Wood In The Moon Is Dawn

Natalie Wood’s career started as a child actress back in 1943 in the film The Moon is Dawn. In 1947 when she was only 8 years old, she got her first big break in Miracle on 34th Street. From there she had a regular part in the cast of the TV sitcom The Pride of The Family in 1953.

After that, she starred in Rebel Without A Cause which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1961, she starred in the classic musical West Side Story, and also that year she earned herself an Oscar nod for Splendor in the Grass. She’d get another nomination in 1963 for Love with the Proper Stranger.

She’d make her adult return to TV in 1979 in the mini-series From Here to Eternity.

Her last film before she died was in 1983 sci-fi thriller Brainstorm. Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list of her works. In total, she had 74 credits to her name.

Fans got to see Natalie at various life stages during her 4-decade long career. As such, she was able to reach multiple generations of audiences.

What Walken and Psychology Have To Say

Christopher Walken has infamously kept quiet about Wood’s demise. Seeing that he was only one of three people to be on the boat when the incident happened, you would think that he probably knows more than he lets on. He hasn’t been completely silent about the matter though.

Telling Playboy in 1997 that he was under the impression that she had slipped on the jet-ski ramp that was partially submerged in the water. He assumes that she probably hit her head as she fell – which likely contributed to her drowning.

People die in untimely ways all the time. People trip and fall in their kitchens, they step into traffic and get hit by metro buses, they fall down flights of stairs. It’s not uncommon for people to die in very mundane ways.

Mystery Behind Natalie Wood’s Death

That’s one of the reasons why there is still so much mystery behind Wood’s death. People simply don’t want to believe that she died in such a simple and unremarkable way. It’s a lot more interesting to assume that bad actors were involved – that some villainous scoundrel somehow had something to do with her death.

Psychologist also propose other explanations for the public’s obsession with the case. Perhaps our fascination with Wood’s death boils down to our universal and fundamental human fear of mortality. Or maybe we get some kind of thrill out of getting close to something that seems dangerous without actually ever being in a state of danger ourselves.

But regardless of any of that, we may never fully know what happened to Natalie Wood. At this point, your guess is about as good as mine. But what do you think? Do you think she was murdered by Robert Wagner or do you think she simply slipped and fell into the water? Let us know what you’re theories are down in the comments section.

And before you go, don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to our channel

Tap the bell icon to turn on notifications so you can catch all of our latest facts-packed videos.

Child Stars Who Left Hollywood For Good

Biggest Loser Biggest Weight Loss Contestants!