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Investigation Discovery - Natalie Wood Profile

October 28 2009 at 1:29 PM
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Found this article on a site a little while ago. It's a pretty good piece and can be found athttp://investigation.discovery.com/investigation/hollywood-crimes/wood/natalie-wood.html

The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood

In the early morning hours of Nov. 29, 1981, Hollywoods "princess" perished in the chilly waters off Catalina Island. Authorities believed Natalie Wood accidentally slipped into the water while attempting to transfer aboard a small dinghy attached to her 55-foot yacht.

Natalie Wood was born Natasha Gurdin on July 20, 1938, to two Russian immigrants. She had appeared in her first movie at the age of 4. Her most notable role in her early years was in the Christmas holiday standard Miracle on 34th Street. By the time she was 18, she had already appeared in over 30 movies.

Woods big break as an adult actress was in 1955s Rebel Without A Cause, alongside such young actors as James Dean, Sal Mineo and Nick Adams. She was nominated for a "Best Supporting Actress" Academy Award for her work in the film. She was only 17.

Woods success in Hollywood could not be stopped, on screen or off. She appeared in such major Hollywood productions as West Side Story, The Searchers, Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice, Splendor in the Grass (for which she received a "Best Actress" Oscar nod), and Love With a Proper Stranger (which garnered her second "Best Actress" nomination).

During Woods ascendancy to the top of the Hollywood throne, it was hinted that she liked to delve into the pleasures of the flesh off screen. She was rumored to have dated practically every leading man in her day from Frank Sinatra to Warren Beatty to Elvis Presley.

Despite her alleged wild ways with Hollywoods leading men, her closest friends knew that Wood wanted something much simpler. Even though she loved acting, she wanted nothing more than to be married and to raise children.

In 1957, Woods wish came true when she married actor Robert Wagner. The young couple, however, felt pressured by outside influences, and eventually divorced in 1962.

Wood married again in the late '60s. She and her new husband, producer Richard Gregson, had a daughter, Natasha. Her marriage to Gregson, however, was ill-fated and they were soon divorced.

Subsequently, Wood and Wagner realized that they were meant to be together. The couple reunited and married a second time in 1972, in a small ceremony on a boat in Malibu. Theirs was a seemingly peaceful marriage the second time around. They also had their first child together, Courtney, in 1974.

By the early 1980s, both actors careers began to slowly fade. Wood did, however, land a role in the science-fiction thriller Brainstorm, which featured the hot young actor Christopher Walken. During filming of the movie, rumors spread that Walken had a thing for Wood and she had returned his interest. Walken denied any involvement with Wood.

On Nov. 29, 1981, just a few days after Thanksgiving, Wood, Wagner and Walken headed out to Catalina Island to celebrate the success of the shooting of Brainstorm. The trio decided to unwind at the Harbor Reef Restaurant on the island.

This is when things supposedly started to unravel.

Waitresses at the restaurant claimed the three actors caused quite a scene. Apparently, they drank lots of champagne and were quite boisterous. One waitress stated that it appeared as if Wood needed to be the center of attention.

The staff complained later the Wood/Wagner/Walken party was rude, messy and that they were miserable tippers. By the time they left their table, all three were allegedly soused. They returned, via their dinghy, to the yacht Splendour, named after Woods favorite film.

From here, the story gets a bit murky.

Days after his wifes death, spokespeople for Wagner stated his wife died from an accidental slip. He claimed she went to bed on the yacht, but became annoyed by the insistent banging of the dinghy against the yacht. Wood went out to try and stop the noise, slipped over the side railing of the boat into the ocean, and drowned in the chilly water.

The skipper, Dennis Davern, had a different tale.

Davern claimed Walken and Wagner were fighting with each other -- over Natalie Wood. Apparently, Wagner became incensed because he believed Walken wanted to sleep with his wife. Davern claimed that Wagner broke a wine bottle, held it up to Walkens face, and screamed at the actor, "Go ahead and f*** her if you want to so badly!" The altercation upset Wood so much she hurriedly escaped to the dinghy to seek solace.

Who knows if either one of these stories is true?

Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the so-called coroner to the stars, was not certain, but he definitely had a theory. According to his book, Coroner, Noguchi learned some interesting information from a colleague who was not only a fellow coroner, but also happened to be moored near Woods yacht on the morning of her death. The friend hinted at something far less sinister, but possibly much more tragic.

Noguchis colleague believed Wood did indeed escape to the dinghy. She then slipped and fell into the water. Instead of being worried, however, she did not panic because she was only a couple of feet away from the yacht. Wood attempted to crawl up the side of the dinghy, but could not get inside due to the watered-down coat she had been wearing. Her coat probably weighed anywhere from 30-40 pounds -- quite a burden for a 100-pound woman in icy cold water with a .14 percent (or higher) blood alcohol level.

As Wood attempted to get into the dinghy, she must have realized it was drifting away from the yacht out into the open sea. This realization led to a more frightened state, as there were reports of a woman screaming for help.

Simultaneously, a thoughtless band of revelers were cranking up their stereo on a party boat, drowning out her pleas for help.

According to Noguchis friend, Wood realized no one was coming to save her, so she had to take action. She grabbed the 11-foot dinghy and steered it back toward the shore. She was possibly aware of a wind stream that could propel her and the boat to safety. Somehow, the diminutive woman did just that. Frightened, slightly intoxicated, shivering cold and weighed down with soaked clothes, Natalie Wood was determined to live.

She almost made it.

The dinghy was found early the next morning on the shore of Blue Cavern on the northern isthmus side of Catalina Island. Her body was found floating, in her red coat, less than 200 yards from shore. She was only minutes away from saving her own life.

No one knows for sure how Natalie Wood perished. No one is talking either.

Walken and Wagner refuse to comment on that night. The skipper is not considered the most reliable source.

Was it an accident? Was there foul play?

The answers lie somewhere out in the open sea.


 
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Re: Investigation Discovery - Natalie Wood Profile

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October 28 2009, 5:00 PM 

She was murdered.

 
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Re: Investigation Discovery - Natalie Wood Profile

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October 31 2009, 4:50 PM 

Says who

 
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Re: Investigation Discovery - Natalie Wood Profile

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November 1 2009, 4:16 AM 

ME!

 
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November 1 2009, 11:18 AM 

Give them a whole bunch of lies with a dash or two of truth thrown in and there is a sucker born every minute.

 
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Re: Investigation Discovery - Natalie Wood Profile

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November 1 2009, 1:22 PM 

Yes, you are right. We're talking about Wagner's book, right?

 
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November 1 2009, 5:06 PM 

Were you addressing the sucker born every minute post? If so yes, that is exactly the book I am talking about.
PIECES OF MY LIES

 
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November 2 2009, 3:02 PM 

Anyone know if the Discovery Channel ever explored Natalie's death with anything more than this article?

 
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November 2 2009, 3:57 PM 

It's quite interesting that this website page uses the same pic of Nat that is on GNGS.

 
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November 2 2009, 4:03 PM 

The article was on line long before the book was published.

 
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November 2 2009, 4:08 PM 

It's also a pretty common photo of Natalie that could be gotten from any number of the tons of sites on the web and memorabilia dealers around the world.

 
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November 2 2009, 5:16 PM 

I have that photo 10 times over. I have all the photos from that shoot. Not bragging her just stating it isn't a personal photo from a personal archive like the photos inside the book that belong to Davern.

 
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November 2 2009, 5:52 PM 

I know it's been there...just thought it was a coincidence.

 
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