At the age of 43 Natalie Wood was found floating in a Santa Catalina cove on November 29, 1981.
On November 28, 1981 Wood, husband Robert Wagner, and Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken along with boat captain Dennis Davern made the decision to sail to Santa Catalina Island aboard Wagner’s yacht the Splendor. The couple and Walken enjoyed dinner on the island while overindulging in drink. The last anyone saw Wood alive was that night after returning to the yacht.
It is presumed that for some reason she tried to board the dinghy, slipped, fell, hit her face, and drowned. The medical examiner of the day, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, declared the death accidental due to intense inebriation and the case was put to rest.
Though many believed then as they do now that Wood’s death was anything but accidental and the question has left Hollywood with another mystery. Wagner, Walken, and Davern claimed no knowledge regarding Wood’s death beyond their return to the yacht. Although, in later years, Robert Wagner wrote in his biography Pieces of My Heart: A Life that he blamed himself for her death.
As we approach the 30 year anniversary of Natalie Wood’s death the Los Angeles Police Department has decided to re-open the investigation based on new information from Dennis Davern. During recent interviews with the Today Show and 48hrs Mystery, Davern alluded to an argument between Wood, Wagner, and Walken before her disappearance. Davern also state that despite what police were told at the time of Wood’s death no one actually went searching for her before calling the harbor patrol. Davern also stated that because of Wagner’s status that the investigation of the time was not as thorough as it could have been.
According to a spokesperson for the Wagner family, as of this time, they have not heard directly from the Los Angeles Police Department regarding the re-opening of the case. The spokesperson further told The Hollywood Reporter, "Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff’s department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death."
We may never truly ever know what happened that. The one person capable of telling us is no longer here. The tragic death of a beloved person leaves many seeking answers to questions that may not exist. Regardless of the mysteries and conspiracies or the lack thereof surrounding the death of Natalie Wood, most of us simply wish her peace where ever she may be.