They’re Opening Up the Natalie Wood Case Again

Will Leitch
The Projector

It's difficult to imagine how the drowning death of Natalie Wood would have been covered and discussed if it happened today, rather than 30 years ago. On one hand, the facts of the case -- the infamous "mystery woman" calling out for help and the lackadaisical "we're coming to get you" in response, the boat captain's shaky story, that everyone on the boat (including Christopher Walken) was so intoxicated -- would have surely been sussed out and dissected in a far more out-in-the-open fashion; everyone involved would have talked to Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer or Bob Costas or TMZ within days of the incident. On the other hand, all the mystery of the case would be gone, and it would be much more disposable; by Christmas, we would have moved on to Herman Cain or Jerry Sandusky or whatever the hot story of the moment that month was. People would be bored with it over Twitter in a fortnight.

Thirty years later, the details of the case are still confusing, but we may finally be getting closer to some answers: The L.A. sheriff's department is reopening the case, because of new evidence. What's the new evidence? It appears the sheriff's office is finally listening to the boat's captain, Dennis Davern, who wrote a book about the case a couple of years ago and has long insisted that Wood's death was the result of an argument between her and Wagner on the boat, perhaps because of Walken. "48 Hours" is supposedly doing a special about the case this Saturday and has new details:

Davern was the captain of the boat the Splendour that Wood was on that night and he reports hearing arguing and a loud thump before Wagner told him Wood was missing. Davern also claims Wagner told him not to call the Coast Guard.

That seems like a reason to re-open the case, yes. For his part, Wagner is casting vague aspersions "about the source," which makes us think Davern probably isn't captaining Wagner's boat anymore. The sheriff's office is having a big press conference at 1 p.m. ET today to discuss the case. Robert Wagner doesn't do much acting anymore -- he's most famous for "Hart to Hart," which is probably why -- but he does show up on "NCIS" every once in a while. Wood, meanwhile, was a three-time Oscar nominee, though by the time she died, she was only acting sporadically. (She was filming "Brainstorm" with Walken when they were out on the boat.) Her most famous movies are "Splendor In the Grass," with Warren Beatty, and "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," her last great film role. Oh, yes: And "Rebel Without a Cause" and "West Side Story," of course.

Natalie Wood Death Investigation Reopened [The Hollywood Reporter]