Who Killed Natalie Wood?

In the tumultuous world of Hollywood, Natalie Wood stood out as a bright star. But in 1981, her life ended tragically when she drowned on an Island.


The coroner ruled the death accidental, citing fresh bruises and scrapes on her body. But that conclusion never sat well with anyone, especially her sister Lana. Keep reading the article below to learn more about Who Killed Natalie Wood.

One of the great mysteries in Hollywood is what happened to Natalie Wood on November 28, 1981. At the time, she was the hottest star of her era and had just starred in West Side Story, Splendor in the Grass, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. But, a few days after she disappeared from her yacht, the Splendour, with actor Christopher Walken as her guest, she was found dead in the water off of Catalina Island.

For decades, investigators couldn’t get a handle on what really happened to Wood. While fresh bruises listed on her body in the autopsy report raised red flags, nothing ever added up to point to an obvious suspect. And while he always denied it, Wagner was often named as a person of interest.

He was a man who had a knack for attracting attention to himself, whether it was his sexual prowess with some of the top actresses in the business or a run-in with the law over a bar brawl. But, while he was never charged with any crime, the events leading up to Natalie Wood’s death may have been more than just a drunken argument.

The case was reopened in 2009 after Davern’s book revealed that he had heard Wagner and Wood fighting on the night she went missing. The new police statement cited that there was still insufficient evidence to charge anyone, but they did make Wagner a person of interest.

In his book, Davern claims that he was in the salon of the boat when Wagner and Wood started fighting, but he didn’t hear a “sploosh” or her crying for help in the water. He says that when he returned to the stern deck, she was gone. He says Wagner then told him she had taken the dinghy and gone to shore.

Regardless of what happened that night, it’s inconceivable to think that a woman who was so afraid of the water would have just decided to go for a swim. Especially in the middle of the night and in pitch black conditions. And it’s even crazier to think that she would have untied and jumped into a guideless dinghy that she couldn’t possibly have maneuvered.

Dennis Davern

A three-time Oscar nominee for her roles in West Side Story, Splendor in the Grass and Rebel Without a Cause, Natalie Wood was only 43 when she died. She was found in the water off the coast of California, and her death was ruled an accident, with the coroner suggesting that she may have slipped while getting into her dinghy and then drowned. The official conclusion never sat well with two people, though: Natalie Wood’s sister Lana and her boat captain Dennis Davern. Davern would go on to co-write a book, with Marti Rulli, that offers a very different take on what happened that night.

Davern, who had been on board the yacht for about six hours that day and slept in her cabin that night, has long believed the official account was not true. He has pushed back against the theory that Wood slipped and fell into the water in a number of interviews, including a 1992 Geraldo Rivera special and a 2000 Vanity Fair piece.

He argues that he didn’t hear the dinghy’s outboard engine start, and he knew that Wood wouldn’t have left the yacht alone in dark, stormy conditions. He also notes that he didn’t see anyone else trying to row the dinghy.

In his book, he also alleges that Wagner had argued with Wood and then shoved her into the water to make it look like an accident. He claims that he withheld this information from investigators in 1981 because Wagner had intimidated him into silence.

Despite his assertions, he has not been able to persuade police officials to reopen the case, and his version of events doesn’t match up with what police officers told him at the time. He has, however, passed multiple polygraph tests and says he is not lying.

Despite the fact that police have not reopened the investigation, Davern believes it is important to continue looking for answers in the case of Natalie Wood’s death. He has also lobbied for the coroner to change her original diagnosis of accidental drowning to homicide, but the county’s chief medical examiner has declined to do so.

Christopher Walken

Actor Christopher Walken was one of the many people who were aboard Wood’s yacht when she drowned. However, he did not argue with her and is not considered a suspect. He was also a co-star in her last movie, Brainstorm.

The two were working together on the sci-fi film and had become friends in the process. She invited him to join her and Wagner for a weekend boat trip during Thanksgiving break in 1981, according to the book, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. Other friends were invited as well but didn’t make the trip.

During her time on the boat, she had a verbal argument with Wagner that became heated. It’s not clear what the argument was about but it is believed to be related to her work on the film and her rumored infidelity with her producer at the time, Robert Wagner. Eventually, she stormed off to her master cabin to escape the argument. When Wagner returned to check on her, she was nowhere to be found.

She was found dead in the ocean shortly after. Although bruising patterns and other evidence suggest she was assaulted, none of the men on the boat were charged with murder. Her autopsy results showed that she had a high level of alcohol in her system at the time of her death.

The new information that was recently revealed by the homicide department could change all of this. It has been reported that two top secret witnesses have come forward and claim that Wood’s final moments were a struggle for survival. These claims are based on witness statements and part of her autopsy results.

Dennis Davern, who was on the boat at the time of the incident, has previously alleged that he witnessed an argument between Walken and Wagner. He said that the pair were drinking heavily and ignoring him while he tried to have a conversation with his wife. Eventually, he claimed that the argument got so bad that Walken and Wagner left him to fight it out alone. The next day, he found her body in the water.

Sam Perroni

Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s most flamboyant stars. Her career was a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, but audiences loved her because of the unique way she brought the characters on screen to life.

The actress’s death was the subject of much speculation at the time, and it continues to fascinate the public decades later. The mystery of what really happened remains, and a recent interview with the skipper of the yacht involved in her death may have shed some light on the case.

Dennis Davern is one of the most renowned captains in the world, and he has spoken about the night of Wood’s drowning several times. He told NBC’s Today show that he has pressed the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department to reopen the investigation into what occurred on the evening of Nov. 29, 1981.

When he started looking into the case, however, he uncovered some very disturbing facts that contradicted what he was initially told by authorities. For starters, the numerous bruises on her body were a huge red flag. They weren’t the marks of a struggle with a rubber boat, as her husband and co-star claimed. Instead, they looked like the marks of an assault, he says.

In addition to this, the original autopsy on the actress was flawed and inconclusive. In his quest to find out the truth, Perroni traveled extensively from his home in Arizona to California, Catalina Island and North Carolina on his own dime seeking answers. He also sued the sheriff’s department, the coroner’s office and more for access to crucial information.

The result of all this work is the most far-reaching and in-depth examination of the case to date. Perroni reveals the corrupt motives that influenced the outcome of the original investigation. His book also exposes the truth about what happened to Wood that fateful night. Author profits from this book will be donated to charity in her memory.