Was Natalie Wood murdered?

Police re-open investigation into 1981 drowning of Hollywood star.

by Jennie Kermode

A former child star, she had risen to become one of the brightest lights in Hollywood before her life was snuffed out at the age of 43. Now the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have reopened their investigation into the death of Natalie Wood.

Wood, who starred as a child in Miracle on 34th Street and went on to receive two Best Actress Oscar nominations for her adult work, drowned whilst on a yacht trip near L.A. She had a lifelong phobia of water and her death was ruled an accident, but suspicions about the case continued. Recently the yacht's captain, Dennis Davern, in contributions to a book by Marti Rulli, alleged that the death might have been murder.

Also on the yacht at the time of Wood's death were her husband Robert Wagner and her co-star Christopher Walken, with whom she was working on science fiction thriller Brainstorm. Wood and Wagner first met when she was working on Rebel Without A Cause, a film sometimes considered cursed because of the tragic deaths of several of its young stars. Their relationship was tempestuous and at one point they divorced, only to remarry. Wood twice attempted suicide and regularly used drugs and alcohol to help her cope. She also had a string of romances with the likes of Warren Beatty, Elvis Presley, Dennis Hopper and Frank Sinatra. Friends remember her as always looking for love, and as constantly lonely despite the love of audiences worldwide.

Share this with others on...

Stay-At-Home Seven: June 1-6 Streaming and TV highlights this week

That’s the way to do it Mirrah Foulkes on timelessness, theatricality and Judy & Punch

Streaming Spotlight: Sundance With Subtitles This week we look at some world cinema gems from the indie festival

Changing visions Nicholas Ashe Bateman on doing things differently in The Wanting Mare

Five to the fore in Critics’ Week Cannes sidebar maintains support for filmmakers

Wes Anderson ensures Cannes show goes on McQueen, Kawase, Ozon, Vinterberg, Maiwenn and Pixar in the selection

More news and features

We've recently been bringing you coverage of the Chattanooga Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival online selection.

Shortly before lockdown, we were at the New York Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, the Glasgow Film Festival, the Berlinale, Scottish feminist festival Femspectives, and Sundance in Utah.

Read our full for more.

Visit our festivals section.


More competitions coming soon.