If you like old films, you already know how much you enjoy Natalie Wood’s work. At one point, she was a beloved American treasure, known for her good-natured acting, her stunning good looks, and one of the most beautiful faces in old movies.
Rebel Without a Cause, Miracle on 34th Street, and, of course, West Side Story were all big hits with Natalie Wood in them. Even when she was older, she was still praised and respected by her fellow actors, which was something that most Hollywood stars of her time couldn’t do.
Famous people like Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra were with her. Also, she had been living in Hollywood since she was a little girl. When it comes to fame, Natalie Wood is the biggest name there is. She had been married three times, twice to her high school sweetheart, and was good and happy.
Robert Wagner was a famous movie producer, actor, and big star who was married to her at the time of her de*ath. He was best known for his roles in The Pink Panther, The True Story of Jesse James, and Let’s Make It Legal. He was a hot Hollywood star in his prime, and he was crazy about her.
She had a great life…right?
You might think so, but Natalie Wood’s strange drowning makes me think there may still be a lot of dirty laundry to be aired. Christopher Walken, a famous Hollywood scandal, and a sea captain who may have given away one of the most important clues to her untimely de*ath are all part of the story.
The Strange Drowning Of Natalie Wood: Setting The Stage
You need to know where Natalie Wood was in her life and who she was with to fully understand why the scandal was so big. At the time, Wood was married three times. Her third marriage was to Robert Wagner, who she had married before and was now married to again.
Wood had a hard time for a long time trying to find love in Hollywood. But who wouldn’t? The seedy side of old Hollywood seems to have been too much for love to handle, at least for this young actress.
Before her marriage to Wagner, Natalie Wood was in two very troubled marriages and had many other lovers. It looked like the third time would be the charm.
But maybe there were hints in her past relationships with men that her third marriage wasn’t going to be as happy as she had hoped…
Robert Wagner took her on their first date when she was 18. The studio set it up. Their relationship moved quickly, and they were soon walking down the aisle. But the first time didn’t last long. The press didn’t know why they broke up, but they did.
Warren Beatty, one of her hot co-stars, was her next boyfriend.
Word on the street was that her relationship with Warren Beatty began as an affair that she kept from Wagner. According to reports, Wagner lost it when he saw them and became so angry that he could not control himself. This caused Wood to leave Wagner and run into the arms of the handsome Beatty.
Beatty ended up being very mean to her, and after the rough relationship ended, she tried to ki*ll herself by taking sleeping pills. After Beatty broke up with her, it wasn’t clear when the actress would be completely mentally healthy again.
When she found out that her second husband, British producer Richard Gregson, was having affairs, she quickly divorced him.
When Robert Wagner came back into her life, they got married again right away. Some people close to them said that their marriage was really passionate and full of love, which was a big plus for their fame.
Or, at least that’s how it seemed.
The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood: The Discovery
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Wagner family was enjoying their success in Hollywood. They bought a family yacht that quickly became the centre of many parties. Natalie and Robert were known as a pair who liked to sail.
This doesn’t make sense because Natalie Wood was said to be afraid of drowning. In fact, in Hollywood, her fear of “dark water” was legendary. All in all, though, it looked like Natalie Wood did enjoy her time at sea with Robert Wagner.
In November 1981, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner chose to take their yacht, The Splendour, to Catalina Island. It was a rainy autumn day. They invited their good friend Christopher Walken and Dennis Davern, who was paid to be the yacht’s captain.
They went to Doug’s Harbour Reef for a champagne dinner before deciding to go to the Island. This is the only restaurant at Isthmus Cove. The restaurant manager said that the Wagner party was very loud and slurred speech made it look like they were very drunk.
From the outside, it looked like this was just another night on the beach with champagne glasses full of sparkling wine and lots of happiness and laughter. That wasn’t the case, though, as it became clear very quickly.
Around 1:30 AM, radios in the area started to pick up a signal. There was no sign of Natalie Wood on the boat when Robert Wagner went to sleep. She was not with him.
“This is Splendour, needs help.”
Natalie’s drowned, bruised body was found November 29th, with an inflatable dinghy called The Valiant beached ashore.
The Strange Drowning Of Natalie Wood: The Coroner’s Decision
On paper, Natalie Wood’s de*ath was an accident, with a “tragic fall” being the official cause of her de*ath. But when you look at the details, it seems like there was a lot more to the story than people were willing to say at first. It also becomes clear that the scene was very wrong.
When Wood’s body was found, her BAC level was 0.14 percent, and she had taking both painkillers and motion sickness pills. Just so you know, in all 50 states, driving with a BAC of 0.08 is considered drunk.
A lot of bruises showed up on her body that weren’t there the day before. Her cheeks were cut up, and her arms were bruised in several places. People often look in these places when they want to find proof of domestic violence.
The dinghy that was found next to her body had also not been used. Like it was dropped with the hope that it would be used as an excuse to kil*l someone.
Police think Wood may have tried to get into the dinghy, but the “wind funnel” effect of the cove blew the inflatable boat away. Then, they think she might have slipped and fallen, which is what caused her to drown in the water.
But this doesn’t explain why she would want to leave the boat or why Hollywood didn’t seem to care at all. People who saw the Wagner group, Christopher Walken, and the yacht captain himself all gave very damning evidence.
Could Robert Wagner have k*illed the woman he was said to love? As more dirty laundry comes to light, it’s clear that this sad Hollywood scandal may have revealed a lot more about the stars than the media wanted to say…
The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood: The Dirty Laundry
At the very beginning, the night manager of Doug’s Harbour Reef told the police that Natalie Wood was drinking too much. He said that he was worried that the Wagners would be too drunk to steer a yacht.
Natalie Wood, in particular, had to be pulled aside a few times because she was so loud and drunk at the restaurant. People who were on the ship say she kept drinking when she got to The Splendour.
Davern himself said that Natalie Wood seemed like a bit of a party animal, which could have led to her de*ath. In an interview, Davern said the following about Natalie Wood:
” I’d tell her, ‘I’ll give you five quaaludes if you give me 10 Valiums,’ because at that time I liked taking a Valium in the morning and floating all day long. . . . So it would be, ‘Let’s eat these quaaludes, let’s chase them down with some wine.’ They had total trust in me, so they could do anything they wanted.”
A group of boats nearby also heard Natalie Wood screaming in the middle of the night. Robert Wagner also said Wood wasn’t suicidal and that she and Wagner had a big fight right before she disappeared.
A lot of people around Wagner thought those two pieces of information were strange. Why would he tell the press that she was suicidal if he knew it would be seen as odd?
Christopher Walken said Natalie was by herself when she went missing, and at first, so did Davern. But Davern’s story seemed to change, and when rumours about him in Hollywood started to spread, things became even more suspicious.
The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood: The Affair and Her Final Moments
You can’t be sure what’s real and what’s not in Hollywood. Natalie Wood herself said it was hard for her to be part of “a perfect couple” when she had “relationship issues” that were “too big” to ignore. It’s natural to wonder what those problems were, yes?
There have been rumours for a long time that Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood slept together. Also, it was clear that they had chemistry, which made Robert Wagner very sad. There have also been rumours for a long time about Wagner’s anger and jealousy issues.
Davern himself told The Splendour about it that night:
“Christopher and Natalie are sitting in the salon together and giggling, and I’m looking at R.J. and thinking, He doesn’t look too happy. R.J. was getting annoyed, and plus, we’re drinking. . . . I was seeing R.J. getting mad. The boat just starts getting smaller. You can’t look for a whole lot of escape.”
Unfortunately, Davern, the captain of the ship, also said that he heard Walken tell her in the middle of the night to “Get the f*** off the boat.”
Later, a woman screaming for help in the direction of The Splendour was heard by John Payne and Marylin Wayne. What made them not worry was probably the sound of a very drunk man’s voice saying, “Okay, honey, we’ll get you.”
It looks like Wayne might have heard the last few seconds of Wood’s life.
The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood: Dennis Davern’s Testimony
Both actors, at the time of Natalie Wood’s drowning, were oddly silent about what happened. Robert Wagner maintained that he was innocent. Christopher Walken maintained that he was in his room at the time of her de*ath, and that there’s nothing he could say.
Dennis Davern seemed to know something, but claimed that Wood’s drowning was an accident. The case was closed, until 2011 — when Davern admitted to the press that he had lied to police during the investigation.
Now, why would Davern lie during a police investigation, if it wasn’t to cover for the mur*der committed by his friend, Robert Wagner? What about Walken? Why was he so silent and camera-shy during the investigation?
Many surmised that Walken’s longterm silence could be guilt-induced — or fear of the repercussions that would happen if he were to speak. The only real statement he issues was as follows:
“What happened that night only she knows, because she was alone.”
He then offered a possible explanation…but once again, repeated that he didn’t know what happened. Suspicious? Absolutely.
The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood: Epilogue
No one knows how Natalie Wood drowned or if she was k*illed up to now. There are also a lot of dirty secrets about this actress’s love life and personal life that no one knows about.
When she died, many of the biggest names in Hollywood went to her funeral. She drowned and left behind three children, two heartbroken ex-husbands, and a few men who will never be able to get over their feelings for her.
It looks like the strange drowning de*ath of Natalie Wood will never be fully solved, no matter how sad people get when they find out the truth.