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Los Angeles-As the 30th anniversary of Natalie Woods death approaches on November 29th, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has re-opened the case, taking another look at the events that led up to her death.
The department said that “additional information” led them to take the new look into what was determined to be an accidental death in 1981. Last year, Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, asked the Sheriff’s department to re-open the case.
Also, Dennis Davern, the skipper of the 60-foot yacht, Splendour, that was owned by Natalie Wood and her husband Actor Robert Wagner, appeared on the Today Show answering questions and telling what he could remember of that fateful night off of Catalina. Davern co-wrote a book on Natalie Wood that was published 2009 as well, it was co-written with author Marty Rulli. The name of the book is “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Spendour.”
The Sheriff’s department wants to talk more with Davern about that night. Davern alleges, and it was confirmed by Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner, that during the evening in question, Walken and Wagner got into a heated argument during which, Wagner broke a wine bottle on the table. According to those involved, that ended the private party that evening. Wood went to her stateroom in disgust over the fight, and Walken retired to his stateroom as well. That is the whole of the recollection of Walken. Walken could not be reached for comment yesterday. It is reported that Wagner was jealous of Walken, who was starring with Wood in the movie “Brainstorm.”
But, Davern says that Wagner followed Wood to the stateroom and arguing began again. Then later, when he looked out of the pilot house window, he saw that the couple’s fight had moved outside onto the deck. Although he could not hear what the argument was a bout, he saw animated gestures indicative of an argument. Still later, according to Davern, Wagner went to him, appearing upset, saying that he couldn’t find Wood. It was noticed then that the dinghy was missing as well. Wagner shrugged and poured them both drinks, Davern said. He suggested his wife had probably gone off in a temper.
This doesn’t jibe with the story that Wagner told of that night in his book,”Pieces of My Heart,”, there he said that Walken and himself went out on the deck to cool off and after, went to the stateroom, only to find Wood missing. Then found that the dinghy was missing. He said he had assumed that Wood had gone to shore by herself. He said that he radioed Doug’s Harbor Reef, the restaurant that they had eaten dinner at ashore just prior to the incident aboard the yacht to see if they had seen her.
But, Davern told NBC “Today,” that Wagner asked him not to take steps to find his wife that night. Davern said, it was a matter of “We’re not going to look too hard, we’re not going to turn on the search light, we’re not going to notify anybody right at the moment,” Davern admitted that he had lied to the authorities. He told the program, “I made some terrible decisions and mistakes, I did lie on a report years ago. I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report.”
Daverne was asked during the show if he thought that Wagner was responsible for her death, he said, “yes, I would say so. Yes.”
Wagner’s publicist has released a statement conserning the re-opening of the case. He said the family supports the Sheriff’s department’s re-opening of the case, “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.”
Natalie Wood began her film career as the little girl in “Miracle on 34th Street.” She also starred in Rebel Without a Cause,” with James Dean and “Splendor in the Grass,” with Warren Beatty. She is most remembered for her role as Maria in “West Side Story.”