Natalie Wood’s Death Certificate Changed…Finally

In her last film Brainstorm (1983)
In her last film Brainstorm (1983) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actress Natalie Wood‘s death certificate has been amended to say her mysterious drowning in 1981 also involved “undetermined factors”.

So it’s only taken 31 years for authorities to act on legal statements that have been common knowledge for years. And amazingly, yes amazingly, Robert Wagner is NOT a suspect.

Wow. The wheels of justice certainly take a long time to turn around, don’t they?

I’ve read the statements, especially the statement give by the boat’s captain. Dennis Davern has admitted that he lied in 1981 when he gave his original statement to police. He new statement of the nights events prior to the ‘disappearance’ and then discovery of Natalie Wood sounds like a clear case of guilt on Wagner’s part.

Davern clearly believes that Wagner was instrumental in Natalie’s death. Davern wanted to radio authorities and set up a search of the area. Wagner denied him permission until it was too late. Criminal negligence it the term that springs immediately to my mind. It obviously crossed the ex-captain’s mind as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like Wagner (known as RJ to his friends). I’ve always liked his acting work and he is one of the few actors left who went through the old ‘studio system’ that gave us such stars as Rock Hudson and (yep you guessed it) Natalie Wood.

Natalie was a child actress who managed to continue her career as she outgrew the adolescent roles that she’d cut her teeth on. Wagner and Wood were a star crossed couple who would marry, divorce and marry again.

They both had their choice of any partner and both ‘played’ the field before they were married and then married other folks after their initial divorce. After they married the second time, things were not all right in Xanadu.

The night that Natalie Wood would lose her life in mysterious circumstances; she was on a break from her latest film, with co-star Christopher Walken. She made a big show of her affection of the then young Walken and Wagner didn’t like it. Blazing row after blazing row broke out through the entire evening.

Walken, to give him credit, appeared to distant himself from the distasteful arguments and has, so far, not had his name sullied by the evenings events.

I never thought once during the entire 31 years after her death that Wagner (RJ to his friends) was involved in any way with her drowning. Then I read the legal statements that had been made by not just the boats captain, but the Coast Guard officer who was involved with the body’s recovery.

I was stunned. This was beginning to read like a cover up of such huge proportions that would equal the Paul Bern ‘suicide’ and the William ┬áDesmond Taylor‘s ‘suicide’ and other scandals of a previous century.

Hollywood has always been a city of ‘damage control.’ The studios learned their lesson well after the Fatty Arbuckle debacle. Even when the victim was the universally loved Natalie Wood the damage control mechanism started automatically when word of her disappearance and death surfaced.

Was the fact that Wood had almost completed her obligation to the film that she and Walken were working on outweigh the fact that Wagner had a hit television program that went out weekly and was generating large amounts of income for the studios?

Was Wagner considered more important in the whole scheme of things because he was still a big earner for tinsel town? Obviously the studio brass had already decided that Brainstorm (the film that she and Walken were working on) looked to be a stinker, therefore not much of a money maker.

Wagner by the very fact that he was a man, did not have the same problems that an aging actress faces when she reaches that certain age. Was he considered the best bet to cover up for and therefore continue to make money for the producers and studios?

Or was the ‘damage control’ mechanism so well oiled that it automatically started covering up what had really happened? More importantly, is it still doing that same job 31 years on.

I don’t think we will ever find out. I think the oligarchy is still so ‘in control’ of the publicity and information that is released to the peasants that make up their target demographic that the likelihood of the ‘real’ truth being revealed is very slim indeed. I also think that the real truth of what happened 31 years ago was lost in the time wasted forming a ‘real’ search for her instead of the farcical events that took place.

It could well be that Robert Wagner is innocent of any wrong doing. The police are certainly not shy in stating that as far as their concerned RJ isn’t a suspect. Walken is still refusing to talk the incident at all. But at least the cause of death has been amended and that may or may not help solve this mystery.

Sorry Natalie, I am afraid that it is a case of way too little, way too late.

English: Natalie Wood's star on the Hollywood ...
English: Natalie Wood’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Entertainment background. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Old journos never retire, they start their own site. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

6 thoughts on “Natalie Wood’s Death Certificate Changed…Finally

  1. I grew up watching Nataile Wood in the movies. She was only 11 years older than me. So the day she died left me feeling like a I had lost a friend. A contemporay if you will. It is an interesting if slightly goulish thought to reveiw how many times she ended up in the water in her films. She was a beautiful woman and a lovley actress. My favortie film would have to be “Splendor in the Grass.”

    “Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind”

    1. What a lovely sentiment. I’ll re-use that later if you don’t mind sir. I know how you feel about Ms Wood, I fell in love with her grace, beauty and spectacular acting talent when I saw her in Gypsy and I agree that Splendor in the Grass was a shining moment for her.

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