Cold Case – Robert Wagner: the mysterious death of Natalie Wood his wife – Gala

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood formed one of the legendary Hollywood couples … Then the actress, whose November 29, 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of her disappearance, drowned in 1981. While suspicions still weigh on Robert Wagner, the actor spoke for the first time in 2020 in front of the camera, to proclaim his truth.

One day, a psychic predicted to Natalie Wood’s mother that her daughter would drown in ” troubled waters “. Strange premonition. Frightening even. But Natalie is swept away by her unique destiny where glory, love, neurosis and jealousy mix. The actress, whose Monday, November 29, 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of his disappearance, fascinates men and Hollywood. Child star, she has already made twenty films, in currying favor with males of all ages – we know of an affair with his director in The fury to live, Nicholas Ray, when she was only 14 years old, him, 41.

As for Robert Wagner, young premier, steely gaze and slicked back hair, it embodies Hollywood charm. They are young, beautiful and famous. And they love each other. In 1956, Robert took her to a preview. First date, followed a year later by udo not propose with alliance at the bottom of a glass of champagne. So romantic! The media will not lose a drop of their wedding in December 1957, of the chaste kiss that Robert deposit on Natalie’s forehead, to the mounted piece that they lovingly cut.

The mysterious death of Natalie Wood

The documentary Natalie Wood : What Remains Behind released on January 27, 2020 evokes this first marriage, like the second (Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner to marry for the second time in 1972 after a ten-year divorce period), with infinite tenderness. Especially since alongside the director Laurent Bouzereau, a Frenchman living in the United States since the 1980s, it is the eldest daughter of Natalie Wood, Natasha Gregson Wagner, 50, who leads the documentary and provides a large part archives.

But he also returns to the tragedy that marked the history of the couple. Twenty-five years after this first marriage, Natalie Wood, 43, is found drowned not far from Splendor, the pleasure boat named after the English title of one of its flagship films, Fever in the blood, by Elia Kazan (Splendor in the Grass). In this film, his character was drowned in “dark waters”. Another premonition … On board the Splendor, on the night of November 29, 1981, is her husband who convinced her to spend a weekend on the island of Santa Catalina, after their couple went through some hardships .

© ANGELI-RINDOFF / BESTIMAGENatalie Wood and Robert Wagner at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1976

Natalie Wood’s Broken Dreams

At this time, Natalie’s career slows down. She’s devoted herself to Natasha and Courtney, her 11-year-old and 7-year-old daughters, and her husband encourages her to stay home when all she dreams of is sets and cameras. Much to Wagner’s chagrin, Natalie Wood invites Christopher Walken for that fateful Thanksgiving weekend. She turns at that time with him in Brainstorm, by Douglas Trumbull. Christopher, disturbingly beautiful, is the actor who makes all women dream. A sex symbol.

The tabloids see in their agreement the evidence ofa bond that goes beyond the purely professional relationship. « In my opinion, there was nothing intimate between Natalie and Chris Walken., refutes Laurent Bouzereau. But he represents everything that attracts him at this time. Tour with Walken, “its a big deal!”exclaims the director. He has just traveled to the end of hell and he’s a star! Her meeting with him reinforces the tension that she then feels between the love of her job on one side, and her home on the other. Robert Wagner, in the middle of the wave, is aware of this: he cannot stand the presence of Walken who reflects back to him the image of his failures …

American justice is still investigating

Robert Wagner, 91 today, speaks for the first time about this tragic evening in the documentary opposite his own adopted daughter, Natasha and admits to having an argument with Christopher Walken that evening. ” We had had a few drinks. Chris and I started to chat. He told me how your mother was a talented actress and that she should continue her career. I told him he should mind his own business […] It got me mad. I even took a bottle and smashed it. I was angry».

At this point, Robert Wagner recounts that Natalie Wood went to bed. He will never see her alive again. These comments come two years after American justice reopened an investigation in February 2018. The investigators are trying in particular to find out why there would have been a delay – too long – between the fall in the ocean of the actress and the first calls for help.

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1976
© ANGELI-RINDOFF / BESTIMAGENatalie Wood and Robert Wagner at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1976

Le silence de Christopher Walken

« When I was told that she was dead, I was like cut off from the world around me. Everyone was in shock », Explains Wagner. He always said she fell alone, without anyone hearing anything, wishing to hang up the rope of the lifeboat. Christopher Walken, he never said anything about this famous evening. The argument on the boat would still have been preceded by a scandal at the restaurant on the coast they went to that evening, with Robert Wagner showing himself more than angered by his wife’s attitude, flirting with Walken before his eyes , according to some witnesses.

The captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, meanwhile recounted years later that the jealous husband had dissuaded him from turning on the boat’s headlights to scan the surroundings. Worse, he would have hesitated and waited too long before warning the coast guard. ” Natalie Wood could have been saved », One of them saddened, discovering his body not yet rigid. Natalie Wood’s full sister, Lana, declined to participate in the documentary, but has always claimed in the press that she does not believe Wagner’s version and continues to believe in his guilt. She has said over and over again that her sister was afraid of water, could not swim, and would not have ventured alone near the Zodiac … Wagner, he always claims his innocence.

An unsolved case

Over the course of the various examinations of the case, still unclear, it was considered today ” person of interest », a status between that of witness and that of suspect. And this documentary obviously plays in his defense. Laurent Bouzereau would like us to remember something else from his film and insist on his vocation ” non journalistic “. At the end of Wagner’s testimony, a key sequence where the cult actor of Love of risk expresses himself with a tied throat, the director says that everyone was in tears on the set, proud of this raw emotion delivered to the public.

But what he especially wanted to show in his film is how the family recovered from this tragedy. ” There isn’t a day that I don’t think about Natalie, and how dear she was to me », Summarizes Robert Wagner. She was everything to him, the one who had turned on him at the age of 10 and whispered to anyone who would listen that he would one day be her husband. An actress ahead of her time, the first to speak out against the power of the studios. A charismatic beauty with an unforgettable look. An extraordinary woman. Tragically.

Photo credits: Backgrid USA / Bestimage

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Cold Case – Robert Wagner: the mysterious death of Natalie Wood his wife – Gala