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Thread: LANA WOOD: Natalie Wood's death and Robert Wagner's silence

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default LANA WOOD: Natalie Wood's death and Robert Wagner's silence

    When Robert Wagner published his acclaimed autobiography late last year, it contained, for the first time, his definitive account of one of Hollywood's greatest and most speculated-upon tragedies - the drowning of his wife Natalie Wood.
    The book, which shot to the top of the bestsellers' list on both sides of the Atlantic and is now the subject of a bidding war among rival studios to turn it into a TV docu-drama, set out, for the first time in nearly three decades, what 'RJ' (as Wagner is known to his friends) says happened on that dark night.
    He and Natalie, together with her latest co-star and rumoured lover Christopher Walken, were aboard Wagner's yacht, the Splendour, moored off Catalina Island, a picturesque tourist spot 26 miles south-west of Los Angeles.

    Happy memories: Lana Wood's own photograph of herself, left, and Natalie as young actresses

    According to Wagner, on the night of November 29, 1981, an intoxicated Natalie staggered off to bed after he and Walken had a blazing alcohol-fuelled row. He says that she left their stateroom clad in a flimsy nightdress to secure an inflatable rubber dinghy that was banging against the side of the Splendour, slipped on an algae-covered step and tumbled into the water.
    Nine hours later, the body of the woman who had captivated the world as the star of West Side Story, Rebel Without A Cause and Splendour In The Grass was found floating face down in the ocean by the US Coastguard, leaving Natalie's two daughters Courtney and Natasha without a mother.
    After refusing to talk about the death of his wife for so long, his written explanation was, Wagner said, 'case closed' on the subject.
    But for one woman, his account served only to reopen a painful wound that has festered for years.
    Lana Wood is Natalie's beloved younger sister. With her green eyes, pale skin and dark hair she is, even today at 63, a striking-looking woman who causes heads to turn as she enters a restaurant near the home that she shares with her daughter and family in the upmarket Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks.
    An actress whose stardom never progressed beyond a handful of soap operas and playing voluptuous Plenty O'Toole in the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Lana mulled long and hard about responding to her former brother-in-law's claims.
    She says quietly: 'I wasn't sure I wanted to drag it all up again. But then the more I thought about it, the more upset I became.
    'RJ has never once sat down with me, face-to-face and answered the questions I have about my sister's death. I still believe there are certain things he is either omitting to say or is covering up. All I have ever wanted for Natalie is for the truth to come out.
    'That is still what I want and that is why I am speaking out now. The pain of losing my sister is still as raw now as it was at exactly this time 28 years ago when I learned I'd lost her for ever.
    'RJ has moved on with his life. But I feel like I lost a part of myself that night and I will never be able to fully rest easy until RJ tells the truth.'
    She says she is particularly concerned by recent claims made by the captain of the Splendour, Dennis Davern, in a new book - Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour - in which he states that, far from retiring alone to her stateroom, he witnessed Natalie and Wagner embroiled in a furious row in their room.
    Moreover, he says he heard the row continue out on to the open deck.

    Star couple: Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood aboard the Splendour just two weeks before she died

    Davern accused Hart To Hart star Wagner of being 'a liar' and says when he walked out on deck to break up the argument he found Wagner alone saying simply: 'She's gone.'
    For Lana, Davern's claims were shocking but not surprising. She says the troubled captain frequently called her over the years, demanding she confront her former brother-in-law about Natalie's death.
    Speaking for the first time about her suspicions, Lana says: 'Dennis would call me late into the night, often after he'd had a drink. He believed RJ knew a lot more than he ever told investigators. He would beg me not to let the subject rest, for Natalie's sake.'
    Has she ever considered the possibility that Wagner might have accidentally pushed his wife into the water?
    She pauses and chooses her words carefully: 'Let's put it this way. From the moment Natalie's body was found floating in the water, RJ never gave me a straight answer.
    'When it happened I was at home in LA and I found out after a girlfriend heard the news on the radio. I immediately called RJ and yelled at him to tell me what had happened.
    'I screamed at him in my grief and told him he was supposed to keep Natalie safe. He just kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, she's gone. It was an accident, you have to believe me."
    'Did he set out to murder my sister that night? No, of course he didn't. But is he somehow culpable in her death? I want to look him in the eye and ask him that.
    'There are too many questions. RJ says Natalie was only in her nightgown and yet she was found wearing a red down jacket over her nightdress. There were unexplained bumps and bruises on her body.
    'My sister was afraid of the dark and scared of water. She would never have left her stateroom alone to secure a banging dinghy in the dead of night. None of it makes sense.
    'I have no peace and no closure. I feel like RJ has tormented me all these years by refusing to sit down with me and tell me what happened. Instead, he puts a slick version of events in his memoir and says "that's it" and expects everyone to accept it. Well, I won't.'
    Lana says her suspicions began shortly after her sister's star-studded funeral. Natalie's coffin was carried by Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, David Niven, Fred Astaire and movie director Elia Kazan. After his wife was buried, Wagner quickly began to distance himself from Natalie's family, causing great pain to her mother Maria.

    Before the tragedy: Lana Wood, Robert Wagner, his daughter Kate and Natalie Wood

    Lana says she and Wagner fell out when she went to his Beverly Hills house to collect some clothes Natalie had left her in her will: 'Natalie left the bulk of her estate to her husband and children, which was quite correct, but her clothing was left to me.
    'But having all her things around me so soon after her death was just too awful for me.
    'I ended up taking the clothes to one of those resale shops and made $15,000 [around 9,000]. I later heard from mother that RJ was furious with me.'
    After that, she says Wagner rarely spoke to her and refused to let her see her nieces Courtney (his child with Natalie) and Natasha (Natalie's daughter with her second husband Richard Gregson) who were raised by Wagner, along with Katie, his daughter from a previous marriage.
    Natalie and Wagner were married twice, firstly in 1957 when she was 18 and he was 26, a relationship that ended in 1962 after Natalie's affair with her Splendour In The Grass co-star Warren Beatty.
    She was then married to actor Richard Gregson before reuniting with Wagner in 1972.
    Lana carefully pulls never-before-seen family photographs of herself and Natalie from her oversized handbag. They are charming pictures - one of a young Natalie with her father, another of Lana and Natalie on a film set in Hollywood. Some show Lana celebrating her second marriage at Natalie's house, and one shows the sisters pulling monkey faces.
    'I just adored her,' Lana says softly as she looks through the pictures.
    'She was everything I was not. I was curvy, she was so tiny, like a bird. She was confident and I was so shy. She was the big star, I was the kid sister. But we loved each other so much. Nothing bad ever happened to Natalie. We would joke she was born under a lucky star.'
    Lana discovered the pictures recently when she was cleaning out the garage of her home, which was repossessed after she faced crippling medical bills.
    Lana's daughter Evan was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare cancer, and, while she is now in remission, Lana spent her life savings to help her uninsured daughter. Now Lana lives with Evan, her husband Edward and their three children in rented accommodation.

    Lana says: 'I know Natalie would have been furious if she knew how RJ has treated me over the years.
    'When our mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's I rang RJ and he was sympathetic but didn't come and visit.
    'That was the last time I spoke to him. One brief conversation ten years ago. He did pay the bill for my mother's funeral. But he and the girls didn't come.'
    She says she was particularly upset when Wagner began an affair with actress Jill St John - whom he married in 1990 - just six months after Natalie's death: 'He said in his book that Jill and Natalie were close friends and that Jill comforted him and one thing led to another.'
    Lana says she believes her outspokenness annoys Wagner: 'Natalie and he had a volatile relationship.
    'They truly loved each other but by the end there were huge rows. I am also someone who speaks her mind and I'm not sure he can deal with that.
    'Natalie was 43 when she died. She was finding it hard to age in Hollywood. She was hitting the bottle. She was insecure about her looks.'
    Lana says she believes her sister may have goaded her husband by flirting with Christopher Walken, her co-star in the film Brainstorm which was released posthumously.
    Walken was Hollywood's hot new star thanks to his role as a Vietnam veteran in the Oscar-winning film The Deer Hunter.
    'It wouldn't have been the first time she'd had an affair with a co-star,' Lana says with a shrug. 'She ran off with Warren Beatty - which ended her first marriage to RJ.
    'From when she was a little girl Natalie had to be adored - had to be centre of attention. She and I were always close, despite the eight-year age gap. At the end of her life she was drinking heavily and trying to work out where her life was going.'
    Does she have a theory on what happened that dark blustery night 28 years ago?
    She says: 'I don't believe RJ's pat answer that Natalie went outside, slipped and - whoops - fell in the water. I believe the captain's story more. I think there was heavy drinking going on. I think RJ got jealous. There was a row. They ended up outside.
    'Only RJ and Natalie know what happened next. One is dead and the other one won't talk to me.'
    Lana believes the police never fully investigated Natalie's drowning: 'RJ called in his high-powered lawyers and the case was solved. That's how it works in Hollywood.'
    The precocious daughters of Russian immigrants, Lana and Natalie were born Svetlana and Natasha Zakharenko (later changed to Gurdin and then Wood) and raised in San Francisco before moving to Hollywood after Natalie was spotted by a talent scout.
    Lana says her mother Maria never got over Natalie's death: 'Mother would say God created Natalie but that she made her a star. Mother always had great dreams for Natalie.
    'When Natalie died, Mother flipped. Her brain went and later they diagnosed Alzheimer's. It was a sad end.'
    Lana often visits Natalie's grave in Los Angeles's Westwood cemetery - the star is buried alongside Marilyn Monroe. She always leaves one of her sister's favourite flowers, a gardenia, on the grave.
    'I say a prayer and tell her how much I miss her,' says Lana, her eyes filling with tears. 'And I tell her I will never stop fighting for the truth.'


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1233465/Natalie-Woods-death-Robert-Wagners-silence-Lana-Wood.html#ixzz0YxmoBWUE

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    sorry, i'm having a hard time feeling sympathetic. sounds to me like she just wants money for her story.
    also, she's upset wagner had an affair with someone 6 months after natalie died, but shrugs off her sister's numerous infidelities?

    whether she accidentally fell off while securing a dinghy, or while having an argument with her husband, either way accidents happen when people get drunk on boats. who cares. let it go.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    sorry, i'm having a hard time feeling sympathetic. sounds to me like she just wants money for her story.

    also, she's upset wagner had an affair with someone 6 months after natalie died, but shrugs off her sister's numerous infidelities?

    whether she accidentally fell off while securing a dinghy, or while having an argument with her husband, either way accidents happen when people get drunk on boats. who cares. let it go.
    I admit it's curious that Lana has kept mum for almost 30 years and just after she's fallen on hard times does she throw down the gauntlet with Robert Wagner.

    On the other hand, plenty of other people have long suspected what she's saying. Wagner's story of what happened that night was odd to say the least.

    I do feel for her on some level and give her the benefit of the doubt on her grief. Some loses you just can't get over.

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    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post

    On the other hand, plenty of other people have long suspected what she's saying. Wagner's story of what happened that night was odd to say the least.
    I would say that stories about what happens when people are drunk always sound weird when you're sober. That's the thing - illogical stuff happens when you're drunk.
    "Oh! I've been looking for a red suede pump!"
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    She and Natilie did not have a good relationship,what ever she is saying now. She wrote about it years ago.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    She was so "devastated" by her sister's death that she SOLD her clothes right after?

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    Natalie's death may be suspicious, but her sister is after money. The clothes thing is tacky and now trying to "sell-out" Wagner.
    If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nana55 View Post
    Natalie's death may be suspicious, but her sister is after money. The clothes thing is tacky and now trying to "sell-out" Wagner.
    Exactly what I was thinking.
    Quote Originally Posted by ConstanceSpry View Post
    She was so "devastated" by her sister's death that she SOLD her clothes right after?

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone and also think he doesn't really 'owe' anyone an explanation. He obviously loved his wife very much, they had some tough times and this was a devastating accident. I agree with Wagner: case closed.
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    Elite Member Lily Bleu's Avatar
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    Screw you Lana! You always lived on Natalie's coat tails. You never made anything of yourself..What a loser.

    Rest in Peace Natalie

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    Elite Member mistify's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    I admit it's curious that Lana has kept mum for almost 30 years and just after she's fallen on hard times does she throw down the gauntlet with Robert Wagner.

    On the other hand, plenty of other people have long suspected what she's saying. Wagner's story of what happened that night was odd to say the least.

    I do feel for her on some level and give her the benefit of the doubt on her grief. Some loses you just can't get over.
    I agree and read the book that whathisname Lee that did the autopsies on the famous folk, and she had bruises like she fought like hell to get back on that boat, something. so sad, and for some reason I dont believe RJ's account either I just dont. If things dont add up they are usually a lie.
    "Shit, I think I just confused myself. QUICK! Somebody hand me chalk, a chalkboard and Will Hunting's brain!" michael k -dlisted

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    I don't necessarily agree she should keep quiet and let it go, but waiting so long and then agreeing to be interviewed for a story like this for money makes her seem less reliable. If all she'd wanted was to get the information out there, she could've been doing that all along, couldn't she?

    As for the clothes, I wouldn't have wanted them either. Clothes are too personal and would've driven me mad, so I would've kept a few special things and gotten rid of the rest ASAP.
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    I don't think too many people believe Wagner's version. He probably doesn't either.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    still sad,

    poor Natalie.

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    Didn't she have to defend herself for going upstairs and washing her hair when she heard of her sister's death?

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