Movie fans were heartbroken when gorgeous West Side Story actress Natalie Wood drowned off California's Santa Catalina Island in 1981. Many suspected that there was a bigger story behind her death, but nothing came of it — until now.
Wood was partying on a yacht with her husband, Austin Powers actor Robert Wagner, Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken and the ship's captain before her death. Wood's sister told TMZ that Wagner withheld information from the police after the death, which was ruled by the coroner as an accident stemming from "possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face."
"What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night," Lana Wood wrote in a biography of her sister.
However, yacht captain Dennis Davern is blaming himself — and Wagner — for her death. "I made some terrible decisions and mistakes," Davern told NBC News reporter David Gregory. "I did lie on a report several years ago."
Gregory then asked if they were responsible for her drowning death. "Yes, I would say so. Yes," he answered.
"We didn't take any steps to see if we could locate her," Davern added. "I think it was a matter of, 'We're not going to look too hard, we're not going to turn on the searchlight, we're not going to notify anybody right now.'"
"I made mistakes by not telling the honest truth in a police report."
For his part, Wagner said he'll cooperate with any new investigation into his wife's death. TMZ reports that the LAPD has two detectives on the case and are taking it very seriously.
"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 LA County Sheriff's Dept. 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," Wagner rep Alan Nierob said in a statement.
One thing Wagner does know? He blames himself for Wood's death.
"Nobody knows," he wrote in his 2008 memoir, Pieces of My Life. "There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened."
"Did I blame myself? If I had been there, I could have done something. But I wasn't there. I didn't see her."
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