Natalie Wood's death on November 29, 1981, was an unexpected tragedy that's been the subject of continued speculation for amateur sleuths for generations. Many, including Wood's own sister, doubted it was an accident. How did Natalie Wood, the acclaimed Hollywood actress, die? She was out on a yacht for the weekend with her husband, Christopher Walken, and the ship captain when she disappeared in a small dinghy. The next day, her body was found in the water and the dinghy was found beached nearby. While the official report states that it was an accidental drowning, some believe there was foul play involved.
The mystery around the Natalie Wood's potential murder stems from her tumultuous relationship with her husband Robert Wagner, not to mention that the couple was reportedly fighting the entire weekend before the film star turned up dead. The death of Natalie Wood has inspired various stories and theories, many of which have in turn revealed additional suspicious details about the circumstances surrounding and leading up to her death, such as her unexplained bruises and the conflicting witness testimonies. Her story will leave you wondering, "What really happened to Natalie Wood?"
Police suspected that Wood had untied the dinghy from the yacht shortly before her accidental drowning; however, Wood's clothing choice raised some significant suspicions. If Wood had intended to leave the yacht, why was she only dressed in her nightgown and a large jacket? She was clearly not dressed for a boat ride, leading some to speculate that she left on the boat in a hurry, possibly in fear.
An investigation indicated that Wood must have drowned somewhere near the yacht before her body drifted away. It remains unclear why Wood did not climb back onto the yacht. Wood was not a strong swimmer, but she likely could have managed to make it back to the yacht and perhaps climb back on board. However, it appears that, for some reason, Wood desperately wanted to get away.
Wood was working with Walken on a film at the time of her disappearance, and there's been some speculation that she even had romantic feelings for him. Walken was invited to the yacht party at the last minute, though Robert Wagner did not know him well. And while those close to Wood do not think an affair occurred, it is believed that flirtation between the two could have triggered a violent outburst from Wagner.
A few weeks before her death, Wood told a journalist that she was terrified of dark water; yet, it is clear, based on reports, that Wood boarded the dinghy hooked to the yacht sometime after dark. She had apparently told Wagner and the other guests that she was retiring for the evening, but when Wagner went to check on her a bit later, she was missing.
Why would Wood, who admittedly feared dark water, take the dinghy out by herself at night? And, as there were reports of tension between her and Wagner that night, could she have been leaving in anger after a bitter argument?