Actress Natalie Wood’s death is being reinvestigated, and her husband is now a “person of interest”

In 1981, actress Natalie Wood died in what was determined to be an accidental drowning. But now, nearly 40 years later, the case of Wood’s death has been reopened, and there’s a new person of interest: her husband, actor Robert Wagner.

Wood was found drowned off the coast of Catalina Island in Southern California in November 1981. The night before, Captain Dennis Davern, actor Christopher Walken, and her husband had accompanied her to sail in her family’s yacht. Although investigators initially ruled Wood’s death accidental, the case was reopened 30 years later, in 2011. Wagner was reportedly the last person who saw Wood alive.

Wagner and Davern have changed their accounts of what happened the night of Wood’s death, igniting suspicion. While Walken has spoken with investigators, Wagner has not since the case was reopened.

John Corina, one of the investigators, discussed Wagner in an interview with CBS’s 48 Hours.

"As we've investigated the case over the last six years, I think he's more of a person of interest now," Corina said. "I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared."


In 2013, the L.A. County coroner’s office changed the cause of Wood’s death to “drowning and undetermined factors.” The revision came after bruising was discovered on Wood’s arm and knee. Investigators had originally assumed these injuries came from Wood’s attempt to pull herself into a rubber dinghy after she fell off the yacht, but this theory was never confirmed. Now, some officials wonder if Wood was assaulted before her death.

Wood is most famous for her roles in 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street, 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause, and 1956’s The Searchers. She also starred as Maria in the original West Side Story film.

CBS will broadcast its full report on the 48 Hours episode “Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water,” which airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT on February 3rd.

We may never know if foul play was involved in Wood’s death or if it was actually an accident, but we’ll be anxiously watching for updates in this unsolved mystery. We hope that investigators can get to the bottom of this case, and that Wood’s loved ones get the closure they deserve.