November 29th marks the thirtieth anniversary of the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood. In what only can be described as a shocking move, late Thursday the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office announced that they were reopening their investigation into Wood’s 1981 death.
Natalie Wood went missing off the yacht she shared with husband Robert Wagner during an excursion to Catalina Island with Wood’s then co-star Christopher Walken. In a story filed to the New York Times the day following her death, it was reported that “Miss. Wood’s body was found floating just beneath the surface about 200 yards from where a small inflatable motorized dinghy was lodged in a small cove…half a mile from Isthmus Cove, where the Splendor was moored.” While her death was ruled an accidental drowning, over the years which followed, there have been questions raised about the night of her death, leading some to speculate wether the actress’ death was really accidental.
In the statement released by the L.A. County Sheriff, it was revealed that “Homicide Invesitagors were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning….Due to the additional information, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau has decided to take another look at the case.”
The Los Angeles Times quotes Sheriff Lee Baca saying, “Detectives want to talk to the captain of the boat after learning of comments he recently made about what happened on board.” The article goes onto report, “The captain made comments ‘worthy of exploring'”.
CNN’s coverage delves into the captains statements further, “In a lengthy interview with CNN in 2010, Dennis Davern (the captain of The Splendor) said he now believes the investigation of Wood’s death was incompetent and suggested there was a cover-up. He said he regrets misleading investigators by keeping quiet at Wagner’s request.” Along with the statements by Davern, Wood’s sister Lana has been renewing her efforts to see the case reexamined, “‘I just want the truth to come out, the real story,’ she said last year.” However, the former actress has said that she doesn’t suspect foul play.
The Hollywood Reporter released the official statement from the Wagner family:
“Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and they 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…other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her death.”
Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were married twice, first from 1957 until 1962. The pair remarried in 1972 and remained together until her death. They have one child together.
The L.A. County Sheriff has scheduled a press conference for Friday at 12:00 mountain time.
At the time of her death at age 43, Natalie Wood had a 39 year history in Hollywood. Making her first film at the age of 4, Wood was onscreen for most of her life, appearing in such classic and well-remembered films as Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story. Denver fans of Natalie Wood can purchase a number of her films on DVD. Local retailer Barnes and Noble carries many of the actress’ movies in-stock at a number of their Denver area locations.