Authorities to Reopen Investigation into Actress Natalie Wood's Drowning Death in 1981

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood during their 1957 wedding reception at Scottsdale's Valley Ho. They're pictured here with the Foehls (who owned the Valley Ho at the time). Image courtesy of the Hotel Valley Ho.
Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood during their 1957 wedding reception at Scottsdale's Valley Ho. They're pictured here with the Foehls (who owned the Valley Ho at the time). Image courtesy of the Hotel Valley Ho.

Just days before the 30-year anniversary of the death of American actress Natalie Wood, Los Angeles authorities announced this morning that they'll be reopening the case for additional investigation. 


The actress, best known for roles in Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, and Splendor in the Grass, was married to actor Robert Wagner

The two had their wedding reception in Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho in 1957. 

On November 29, 1981, the 43-year-old actress' body was found a mile from her yacht (named Splendour), off Catalina Island. 


Until now, the story was that Wood, her husband, the ship's captain, Dennis Davern, and her Brainstorm co-star, Christopher Walken, were aboard the boat for drinks and that Wood had somehow gone overboard and drowned. 

Her death was ruled an accident, but questions stemming from additional information submitted by an anonymous source as well as Davern's recent account of the night -- which he details in the book Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour (2008) -- prompted the Sheriff's Department to reopen the case. 

Davern wrote that he had given authorities false information about the night and that he remembers a heated argument between Wood and Wagner the night of her death. Wagner's representatives now claim he's attempting to "cash in" on Wood's death. Walken has denied comment. 

In March, 2010, Lana Wood asked authorities to reopen the case of her sister's death. This morning, the County announced they would ressurect the investigation and would start with new questions for Davern, whose statements will appear in a special "48 Hours" television segment, co-produced by CBS and Vanity Fair, scheduled to air Saturday.


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