Robert Wagner On Natalie Wood's Death

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. (1980)(AP Photo) AP Photo

Twenty-seven years after the mysterious drowning death of screen star Natalie Wood, her husband, fellow star Robert Wagner, is coming forward, telling his story for the first time of what happened.

As a young star, Wood appeared in movies such as "Rebel Without a Cause" and, most notably, had the lead role in "West Side Story," and lit up the screen with ease.

But her life off-screen was, at times, turbulent.

According to The Times Of London, which says it has a source who's has seen the manuscript of an autobiography Wagner is preparing, "Pieces of My Heart," Wagner says Wood apparently slipped accidentally and unnoticed into the water, never to be seen alive again.

In the book, Wagner says he and Wood were partying on their yacht with actor Christopher Walken late on the night of Nov. 29, 1981 in the waters off Catalina Island, when tragedy struck.

The source tells the newspaper, "There was no conspiracy, nobody walking in on something sexual, nothing absurd like that."

Wagner apparently admits in the book that he was jealous of then-rising-star Walken, with whom Wood was co-starring in "Brainstorm."

The newspaper reports, "He says he felt his wife was being 'emotionally unfaithful' to him on the set of 'Brainstorm.'

"... According to Wagner's account, tensions boiled over during a late dinner on the yacht, which was moored off the island of Santa Catalina, near Los Angeles, after Walken suggested that Wood should star in more films instead of caring for two young children.

"Wagner lost his temper and, he admits, smashed a wine bottle on the table, prompting Wood to go below to their cabin. He says that when he put his head around the door of the cabin and saw his wife for the last time, she was fixing her hair and apparently preparing for bed.

"He and Walken went up on deck to cool down. At about midnight, he returned to the cabin and discovered that his wife was missing. Then he realized that the yacht's dinghy had gone too. He searched for Wood on the yacht Splendor but in vain.

" 'Now he thinks that Natalie heard the dinghy banging loosely against the Splendor, went to fix it and slipped on the "swim step," knocking herself unconscious, and rolled into the water, and the dinghy just floated away,' said a friend familiar with Wagner's manuscript.

" 'There was no conspiracy, nobody walking in on something sexual, nothing absurd like that.' "

The Times says, "The coroner found that Wood ... had consumed seven or eight glasses of wine but was probably not drunk. He ruled that she had fallen into the water by accident and had been dragged down by her heavy clothing. She was 43."

Ironically, Wood had a paralyzing fear of water but, while filming "Splendor in the Grass," learned to overcome that fear. The boat she was on the night she died was called "The Splendor," which was given that name to honor her conquering her fear.

To read the entire account in The Times of London, click here.
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