Robert Wagner: I blame myself

Robert John Wagner, the son of a wealthy steel executive, moved from Detroit to Los Angeles at the age of seven. In his early days in Hollywood in the 1950s, he was mentored by the legendary Spencer Tracy. His role as a crippled soldier in the Susan Hayward film "With a Song in My Heart" (1952) got him attention and a contract with 20th Century-Fox.
20th Century Fox
Actress Natalie Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner, enter a reception celebrating the first issue of Look Magazine in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 15, 1979.
AP

(CBS/AP) Though he claims no one knows how actress Natalie Wood died, Robert Wagner has said he blames himself.

Read More: Sheriff says Wagner not a suspect
Pictures: Natalie Wood
Pictures: Robert Wagner
Pictures: Christopher Walken

"Yes, I blamed myself," the actor wrote in "Pieces of My Heart," his 2008 memoir. "Natalie would have felt the same way had it happened to me. Why wasn't I there? Why wasn't I watching?"

"48 Hours presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal," airs on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

The Los Angles County Sheriff's Department is re-opneing the case, based on what Lt. John Corina said Friday was "substantial" new information. He said Wagner was not a suspect in his wife's mysterious drowning on Nov. 29, 1981.

Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal
"48 Hours" Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal, Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Wood drowned after spending several hours drinking aboard a yacht on Catalina Island with Wagner, fellow actor Christopher Walken and the ship's captain, Dennis Davern. It was the captain who claimed in TV interviews Friday that Wagner was responsible.

In his memoir, Wagner recalls that everyone had a lot to drink and that he and Walken were arguing over dinner and into the night.

He said Wood had left the meal before the argument got heated and had gone to the lower part of the boat, to the master cabin. She did not storm out, Wagner recalled, but simply left.

"The last time I saw my wife she was fixing her hair at a little vanity in the bathroom while I was arguing with Chris Walken," he wrote. "I saw her shut the door. She was going to bed."