Natalie Wood: Homicide Investigators Reopen Actress’ 30-Year-Old Death Case

Leezel Tanglao
Natalie Wood: Homicide Investigators Reopen Actress’ 30-Year-Old Death Case
Natalie Wood: Homicide Investigators Reopen Actress’ 30-Year-Old Death Case (ABC News)

file/AP Photo

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau is reopening the investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood.

The sheriff’s department and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office initially ruled Wood’s death an accidental drowning after she went boating with her husband, Robert Wagner, and actor Christopher Walken, off Catalina Island, Calif., on Nov. 29, 1981.

“Recently sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning,” a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department news release said. “Due to the additional information, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau has decided to take another look at the case.”

Wood was 43 when she died.

More details are expected to be announced at a news conference Friday.

Wood appeared in more than 56 films, including “West Side Story” and notably playing James Dean’s love interest in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

She was married to Wagner twice. They married in 1957, divorced about five years later and remarried in 1972.

Mysterious Death?

Wood’s death has been a long-running mystery in Hollywood.

In 1981, Wood was with Wagner and Walken during Thanksgiving weekend on the couple’s boat, the Splendour, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wagner and Walken reportedly got into an argument after they returned from drinks at a local restaurant.

Wood went to the master cabin bathroom, but Wagner noted as he was going to bed that he noticed Wood wasn’t there, the Times reported.

“It is believed that the dinghy had gotten loose and Wood came up on deck to tie it up,” where she fell and drowned, the Times reported.

Wood’s sister, Lana Wood, along with the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern, asked authorities to reopen the case last year, according to CNN.

Lana Wood told CNN in 2010 that she does not believe foul play was involved in her sister’s death.

“I just want the truth to come out, the real story,” Lana Wood told CNN.

For now, the investigation has the support of the Wagner family.

“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 LA County Sheriff’s Dept. 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,” Robert Wagner’s publicist Alan Nierob said in a statement.