Movie star Natalie Wooden has been useless practically 40 years, however her ghost nonetheless casts a protracted shadow — and it’s going to stroll the earth once more as her eldest daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, concurrently releases a brand new memoir and a brand new documentary.
The documentary, “Natalie Wooden: What Stays Behind,” debuts Might 5 on HBO and creates an affectionate portrait of Wood’s at-home life with actor Robert Wagner, whom she married twice, and her two youngsters of their Beverly Hills, Calif., residence. Natasha was 11 years previous and summoned from a sleepover at a good friend’s home when her 43-year-old mom’s lifeless physique was discovered within the water off Catalina Island after Thanksgiving in 1981. Her youngest sister Courtney, Wood’s daughter by Robert, was solely 7 years previous.
“The day my mother died, my whole world was shattered,” Natasha says within the HBO documentary, which additionally options interviews with Robert Redford, Mia Farrow and extra. “Since then, there’s been a lot concentrate on how she died that has overshadowed who she was as an individual.” She does, nevertheless, ask Robert point-blank within the movie, “What will we take into consideration reopening this case?”
The drowning was dominated an accident, however rumors have surfaced for years, blaming Robert, now 90, for her loss of life. The couple was on board their yacht, the Splendour, on a stormy weekend with Christopher Walken, Natalie’s co-star within the sci-fi film “Brainstorm,” which was in manufacturing on the time. Within the documentary, Robert tells Natasha how he and the “Deer Hunter” star had been arguing over his spouse’s function in life after having consumed fairly a little bit of wine. Walken was in favor of Wooden pursuing her profession.
As Robert tells it, the argument between the 2 males escalated and Wooden retreated to their bed room under deck. When he went to search out her, she was gone. After alerting onshore personnel and the Coast Guard that she was lacking, her lifeless physique was found.
In Natasha’s new guide, “Extra Than Love: An Intimate Portrait of My Mom, Natalie Wooden,” she asserts that Robert Wagner wouldn’t have harm her mom.
“My father would by no means have harmed my mom or failed to avoid wasting her if he knew she was at risk,” she writes, in response to excerpts within the Each day Mail.
The investigation into Wood’s loss of life was reopened in 2011, the 30th anniversary of the tragedy. A brand new coroner’s report launched in 2013 raised issues concerning the time of origin for bruises on Wood’s physique.
“The situation of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising assist bruising having occurred previous to entry within the water,” the report mentioned. “Since there are unanswered questions and restricted extra proof accessible for analysis, it’s opined by this Medical Examiner that the style of loss of life must be left as undetermined.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division added that Wagner was not thought-about a suspect within the open investigation. Nevertheless, in early 2018, the division mentioned Wagner was nonetheless a “particular person of curiosity” within the case.
And yacht captain Dennis Davern — allegedly the one different particular person on board on the time — has steered that Wagner may have been straight concerned in her loss of life, maybe even pushing her into the water himself.
These and different allegations, which have simmered for years, don’t sit properly with Natasha.
“My mom now not has a voice of her personal however I do and that is what I do know — RJ cherished Natalie ‘greater than love,’” she writes in her new guide. “Nobody in my world questioned my dad’s love for my mother or his utter despair at her loss.”
And whereas she says she “can by no means know with full certainty” what transpired on the boat and what led to Wood’s loss of life, she is aware of how her mom would somewhat be recalled, regardless of her still-mysterious demise.
“My mom was not a tragic, doomed particular person. Her life was dedicated to her artwork, her youngsters, her husband and her coronary heart,” Natasha writes. “That is how she would have wished to be remembered, not as somebody outlined by her loss of life, however by her life.”