When did Natalie Wood die? Here’s what we know about that tragic day
Natalie Wood’s death may have occurred almost 37 years ago, but the fascination with the case seems to be never-ending. The details surrounding Wood’s death have remained so mysterious and controversial that, six years ago, the investigation was reopened — and today, investigators have revealed that her then-husband, actor Robert Wagner, is a person of interest. As the story unfolds, you may want to remind yourself of case details such as Wood’s age at the time of her death, the theories resulting from the cause of death, and when exactly Natalie Wood passed away.
Wood was a popular actress known for her roles in Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without A Cause, West Side Story, Splendor in the Grass, and The Searchers. She started acting when she was just four years old, and went on to have a successful career. In her early thirties, Wood took a break from acting and went on to have two children with two different husbands. She married producer Richard Gregson once (in 1969) and actor Robert Wagner twice (in 1957 and 1972).
On November 28th, 1981, tragedy struck: Wood drowned off the coast of Catalina Island in California after she went missing from the Splendour, her family’s yacht. She was discovered early the next day.
She had been on the yacht with Captain Dennis Davern, Wagner, and Wood’s friend and fellow actor Christopher Walken. The day after she went missing, Wood was found floating in the water wearing a red down jacket and flannel nightgown. After a two-week investigation, Wood’s death was ruled an accident, but many found the entire situation suspicious.
In 2011, decades later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the investigation. In 2012, the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office changed the cause of death on Wood’s death certificate from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
There have always been theories that Wagner was involved in her death, and with this news from investigators, that doesn’t seem too far off anymore. The three men on the boat first claimed Wood had taken off in a dinghy by herself, but Wood was famously terrified of water, so that never added up. Over the years, Wagner and Davern’s accounts have changed a bit. That’s why making Wagner a person of interest is a very big deal — although the actor has continued to refuse to speak with investigators about Wood’s death since the case reopened.
Whatever the case, it looks like we’re finally getting closer to the truth.