It’s been almost 40 years since Lana Wood lost her sister – and she’s determined to find out what really happened.
In 1981, Natalie Wood’s body was found on Catalina Island, California. The 43-year-old, fearing black water, wore a red down jacket and nightgown. She was drinking heavily on a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken. The only other person aboard was the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re still on the case,” Wood told LBL. “I think maybe someone’s son or daughter has seen or remembered something. Most people who know something should be there.”
The actress also recently wrote a memoir entitled “Little Sister: My Inquiry into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood” There she sheds light on the details surrounding the case and how she fought for answers over the years.
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Authorities initially ruled the death to be accidental drowning. However, that changed after years of review and the emergence of more witnesses. In 2011, authorities reopened the investigation after Tavern said he had heard the couple arguing the night of Natalie’s disappearance.
The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office in 2012 amended Wood’s death certificate to include “drowning and other undetermined factors.” According to the report, the change was due to inspectors not being able to rule out some bruises and marks on Wood’s body before she went into the water. Wood did not wear a life jacket, had no history of suicide attempts and did not leave a note.
The report also revealed that investigators did not preserve Wood’s fingernails, to determine if she tried to go dingy again. Scratch marks were found in Kraft’s hull.
Later in 2018, Wagner was considered a person of interest, the principal detectives of the case said. The actor, now 91, has denied any involvement in Natalie’s death and no charges have been filed. Her spokeswoman had no comment when reached by LBL regarding Lana Wood’s book.
That same year, Lana Wood and Tavern participated in a “Fatal Voyage” podcast pointing to Wagner. At the time, a spokesman for Wagner told LBL: “They are just human beings who capitalize on the accidental death of a beloved member of the Wagner family. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Lana Wood, who has no relationship with the actor, said she had previously asked Wagner to speak with investigators handling the case.
“I don’t understand why they don’t talk to detectives,” the 75-year-old said. “He never did. And I don’t know if he ever does. Is there ever a death penalty confession? Probably not. It seems to be going that way. All I can do is print the truth.”
Lana Wood said there was zero doubt that Wagner was “responsible” for what happened to her sister.
“There were two people in the back of the boat and then one,” he alleged. “I’ll make him responsible.”
In a 2008 autobiography, Wagner wrote that he and Walken argued on the night of the question. When he went to bed, he noticed that the star was missing his wife and the rubber dinghy that had been tied to the yacht.
“There are only two possibilities,” Wagner wrote. “She was trying to get out of the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is no one knows exactly what happened.”
Walken, now 78, has publicly said little about the incident over the years and has sometimes delivered brutal answers when pressed. However, she thought Wood was probably drowsy and slipping into Playboy in 1997, hitting her head and falling off the dinghy.
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Lana Wood said it was unlikely that Natalie would try to leave her own boat.
“It’s pretty tough for Natalie,” the former Bond girl explained. “She always had a thing about being alone. I flew to New York a couple of times to be with her because she called and said, ‘There’s nobody here. How fast can you get here?’ And then I do everything I can to board the plane and stay with her.
Lana Wood said she has tried to connect with Natalie’s daughters over the years Wagner grew up.
“I have sent countless letters and made many photo calls,” he alleged. “But I understand. His mother died and his father was the only surviving parent. So he was going to believe everything he said. What happened to those girls was devastating. But I tried.”
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Lana Wood has stated that HBO has previously contacted her for its documentary “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind”. It included interviews with Natalie’s loved ones, close friends and confidants, including daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner. However, Wood has claimed that she has told the network that she agrees to participate in the 51-year-old’s condition under private sitting.
“I want to make sure she’s comfortable doing it,” Wood said. “I didn’t get a direct answer. So I thought about it and said, ‘I can’t work with anyone who thinks badly of me or doesn’t want to see me. I don’t want to talk to myself. I said.’ I’m not comfortable with it.” I said no. And I think the only time I can reject anything that has anything to do with Natalie … I think it will always be like that. “
The actress ‘representative did not immediately respond to LBL’ request for comment.
Lana Wood said she will continue to press for answers about her sister’s tragic death. Natalie, she said, was doing the same to her.
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“After reading this book, I hope people learn what Natalie really is and what she’s experienced,” Wood said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.