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Robert Wagner, who was married to Natalie Wood at the time of her death, is in support of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s decision Thursday to reopen its case into the 1981 death of the actress.
A spokesperson for the actor told The Hollywood Reporter that the department has not reached out but the Wagner family yet, but hopes the new information that led to the case being reopened is legit.
“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 L.A. County Sheriff’s Department 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.”
Wood died in 1981 at age 43 while boating off Santa Catalina Island, off the Southern California shore. At the time, her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but there have been many questions raised about what actually happened on the boat in the time since.
“Recently, sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning,” the department said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. “Due to the additional information, sheriff’s homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case.”
The department has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Friday.
On the night of Nov. 29, 1981, Wood and her then-husband Wagner went boating with Christopher Walken. The trio had dinner and drinks at Doug’s Harbor Reef and then continued drinking aboard the boat, where Wagner and Walken began arguing.
During the argument, Wood went to bed, and when Wagner came down to say goodnight, she was gone.
Speculation has it that the dinghy came loose, and she went up on deck to tie it back when she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. A woman on a nearby yacht reportedly claimed to have heard calls for help around midnight, and it was later concluded that Wood — who reportedly was not a skilled swimmer and had a lifelong fear of deep water and had been wearing a heavy robe — had been intoxicated at the time.
However, others have speculated that a lover’s quarrel between Wood and Wagner that had to do with Walken took place before the accident. At the time of her death, she was filming the sci-fi movie Brainstorm with Walken.
For his part, Wagner has said he blames himself for the incident.
“Did I blame myself? If I’d been there, I could have done something,” he told the U.K.’s Daily Mail in 2009. “I wasn’t, but ultimately, a man is responsible for his loved one. Yes, I blamed myself. I would have done anything in the world to protect her. Anything. I lost a woman I loved with all my heart, not once but twice, and I will never completely come to terms with that.”
Wood was married to Wagner twice, from 1957-62 and again from 1972 until her death. They had one child, a daughter named Courtney, and appeared togehter in projects including the TV movie The Affair and TV adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek