In an explosive special report from CBS’s 48 Hours, the investigators reexamining the mysterious 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood are now calling Robert Wagner, Wood’s then-husband, a person of interest.
Wagner, then 51, had been married to Wood, then 43, twice. They were first married in 1957 when Wood was only 18 and newly famous from her role in Rebel Without a Cause. The couple split up five years later, only to rekindle their relationship and remarry in 1972. They remained married until Wood’s untimely death nine years later.
When Wood and Wagner were first married, Wagner was already famous for his roles in films such as Titanic, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, and Stars and Stripes Forever. He later went on to appear in The Pink Panther and several Austin Powers films. Now 87, Wagner currently makes appearances on NCIS.
The night Natalie Wood went missing, she and Wagner were on their family yacht with Captain Dennis Davern and Wood’s friend and costar, Christopher Walken. Wood’s body was found the next morning off the coast of California’s Catalina Island. She was wearing a flannel nightgown, wool socks, and a down jacket.
Although her death was ruled an accident, many were suspicious, knowing how Wood was always terrified of dark, deep water.
Wood’s case was reopened in 2011, and six years later, Lieutenant John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to 48 Hours that police are almost certain Wagner was the last person to see Wood alive.
That fact, along with new evidence and eye-witness testimony, make Wagner a person of interest in the case.
Wagner has refused to talk to investigators since the case was reopened. Walken and Davern have been cooperative, and Wagner’s story of what happened that night just doesn’t seem to match up with those of the other witnesses.
48 Hours’ special report Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water airs this Saturday, February 3rd at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.