Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here to assure you once again that we generally don’t follow breaking news headlines when it comes to the selection of blog topics. We prefer to think of our subjects, classic movie stars, as timeless.
But with the very latest developments in the case of Natalie Wood’s death 31 years ago, we simply couldn’t resist.
As you probably know by now, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened in 2011 its investigation into the actress’ drowning in waters off Santa Catalina Island (about 20 miles off the California coast) on Nov. 29, 1981. And, there have been a couple of new developments lately in the continuing case
On a sunny California morning, Wood’s body — clad in a down-filled red parka — was fished out of waters near Catalina harbor. A vacant dinghy was found in an isolated cove. The death was ruled at the time as an accident.
Wood, actor Christopher Walken (her costar in Brainstorm, the movie she was making that was released in 1983) and the actress’s husband Robert Wagner (maritally, the second time around for both) were the only passengers aboard the their yacht besides the captain. They were taking a Thanksgiving holiday cruise.
So far, the best account of what happened on that late November night (that we know of) is contained in a harrowing chapter — titled, Everything Went Away From Me — in Wagner’s own 2008 memoir, Pieces Of My Heart: A Life, co-authored by Scott Eyman.
The actor doesn’t conceal the fact that alcohol, a nasty marital spat and friction with Walken all played a role that night. According to his book, on the afternoon and early evening of Nov. 27, Wood, Wagner and Walken went shopping on Catalina Island, then stopping off at a favorite watering hole where the three W’s ordered margaritas and beer chasers. The evening went downhill from there.
Anyway, the Hollywood trade press and various internet sources are still buzzing about supposedly new accounts of the fateful night provided by Walken. And, separately, Wood’s death certificate has been amended.
To test your knowledge of the l’affaire Natalie Wood, we submit the following 10 questions. Let’s see if you have been paying attention.
1) At the time of her death, how old was the actress? a) 54; b) 43; c) 38; or d) 45?
2) What is the name of the yacht she was on that fateful night? a) Rebel Without A Cause; b) RobNat; c) Splendour; or d) The Miracle.
3) Wagner is still somehow a suspect in the case? a? True; or b) False.
4) The investigation into the cause of Wood’s death was re-opened because: a) The captain of the yacht brought to light important new details; b) Actor Christopher Walken provided new information; or c) New physical evidence was uncovered by authorities?
5) It’s been said that Natalie Wood was uncomfortable at sea because she was such a lousy swimmer. Is that: a) True; or b) False?
6) The drowning case was reopened in 2011 because new physical evidence on Wood’s body was discovered by the Los Angeles coroner. a) True; or b) False,
7) The cause of Wood’s death is now attributed to “drowning and undetermined factors.” a) True; or b) False.
8) Walken is being more outspoken these days about what happened to Natalie. a) True; b) False.
9) Walken’s role in the case is being questioned? a) True; or b) False.
10) Has Walken ever expressed his impressions of the circumstances surrounding Wood’s death? a) Yes; b) No; c) Yes, but only partially.
Stay tuned: answers on Monday.