Al­most 40 years af­ter the screen god­dess drowned, her death re­mains Hol­ly­wood’s great­est mys­tery

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There’s no doubt Natalie Wood and Robert Wag­ner had one of Hol­ly­wood’s most volatile, tem­pes­tu­ous love af­fairs – mar­ry­ing twice, fight­ing over ru­moured lovers, and jeal­ously clash­ing dur­ing their cel­e­brated ca­reers.

But could Robert Wag­ner re­ally have killed his beau­ti­ful wife in a drunken rage af­ter an ar­gu­ment on their yacht Splen­dour some­time in the early hours of Novem­ber 29, 1981?

De­tec­tives now be­lieve it’s one ex­pla­na­tion of her shock­ing death – and have named Robert as a “per­son of in­ter­est” in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Natalie’s death.

“We want to talk to Robert,” says Lieu­tenant John Co­rina from the LA County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment, re­veal­ing he had re­fused 10 po­lice re­quests for an in­ter­view. “What he told the orig­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors and what he’s por­trayed since then re­ally don’t add up to what we found.”


The case was re-opened in 2011 when Splen­dour skip­per Den­nis Dav­ern claimed he orig­i­nally lied to po­lice and al­leged Robert, who was the last to see Natalie alive, was re­spon­si­ble for her death.

“I made some ter­ri­ble de­ci­sions and mis­takes,” Den­nis said at the time, re­veal­ing Robert had asked him not to turn on a search­light to look for Natalie af­ter she dis­ap­peared from the yacht, and de­layed re­port­ing her as miss­ing to au­thor­i­ties.

“I did lie on a re­port sev­eral years ago,” Den­nis ad­mit­ted. “We didn’t take any steps to see if we could lo­cate her.”

Robert, now 88, has al­ways in­sisted “the last time I saw my wife, she was fix­ing her hair at a lit­tle van­ity in the bath­room” in a state­room be­low deck. He has de­nied any in­volve­ment in her death, claim­ing he be­lieves she slipped over­board af­ter go­ing to tie up a loose dinghy. Natalie, 43, who had a life­long fear of drown­ing and dark wa­ter, was found dead in the ocean off Cal­i­for­nia’s Catalina Is­land, dressed for bed in a long night­gown and socks, with a red down jacket over her night­clothes.


She and Robert, to­gether with Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Christo­pher Walken, were drink­ing heav­ily. Robert and Natalie had fought pub­licly in a bar and on the boat the day be­fore her death.

Den­nis told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he heard the cou­ple hav­ing a vi­o­lent ar­gu­ment be­fore they took their fight up onto the deck just hours be­fore she dis­ap­peared – and Lt Co­rina says two “very cred­i­ble” new wit­nesses back him up.

“There was ar­gu­ing… and then si­lence. No­body heard a splash. No­body heard any­thing. I don’t think she got into the wa­ter by her­self,” he says.

Natalie was nom­i­nated for three Os­cars and starred in West Side Story, Rebel With­out A Cause, Splen­dor In The Grass and Mir­a­cle On 34th Street.

This new in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has un­cov­ered 150 new clues and brought for­ward 100 new wit­nesses, has di­vided Natalie’s fam­ily and reignited a bit­ter feud be­tween her younger sis­ter Lana Wood and Robert.

Natalie’s daugh­ters have al­ways stood by Robert, with Natasha Greg­son Wag­ner stat­ing that she’d never blamed her step­dad for her mother’s death.

But Lana re­cently told US news pro­gram In­side Edi­tion, “Some­thing bad hap­pened and some­thing wrong hap­pened, and I want him to own up to that.

“Not a sin­gle day passes when I don’t wish Natalie was here.”

Splen­dour. Natalie died af­ter a fight on the yacht

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