Golden Age actress Natalie Wood's marriage with Robert Wagner was plagued with secrets. She reportedly hid his secret about being bisexual until her tragic demise at 43.
Actress Natalie Wood, famous for her impressive talent, started her career as a child actor. Over the years, she successfully evolved into a Hollywood icon and got nominated for an Academy Award for "Rebel Without a Cause."
Away from her career, her marriage to actor Robert Wagner often made headlines. The celebrity couple had a tumultuous union that saw them get married twice. Their first breakup was reportedly caused by Wagner's bisexuality.
Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood at Heathrow Airport on May 28, 1976 | Photo: Getty Images
WOOD KEPT WAGNER'S CONTROVERSIAL SECRET
Wood and Wagner first got married in 1957 and had their first divorce in 1962. At the time, it was reported that Wood was the cause of their split as she had an affair with her "Splendor in the Grass" co-star Warren Beatty.
However, it turned out that wasn't the case. According to author Suzanne Finstad, who wrote an explosive biography on Wood, the couple's first marriage ended because of a secret Wood kept to protect Wagner and his career.
The actress, who had been private about many events in her life, including sexual abuse, guarded Wagner's secret, to the point that it succeeded in destroying her.
Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner on January 01, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
In her biography, Finstad claimed Wood hid that Wagner was bisexual after she stumbled upon him in a compromising position with a man at their Beverly Hills mansion.
In 2018, [Wagner] was listed as a "person of interest" by authorities who confirmed that the actress's death was suspicious.
Robert Wagner at Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on May 16, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images
Wood's mother, her sister Lana, and her best friend Mary Ann Brooks, the only ones who knew about the affair, confirmed it to Finstad. They recalled how she showed up at her parents' house that night, locking herself in her room and trying to overdose out of hurt.
Brooks noted that there were rumors about Wagner's bisexuality while he was courting her friend. However, Woods turned deaf ears to the allegations until she finally caught him with a man.
While they were dating, Wagner had vehemently denied all the allegations that he was bisexual. Unfortunately, the realization that the actor had lied to her all these years was having an affair with a man deeply affected Natalie.
Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner on July 1, 1976 | Photo: Getty Images
DETAILS SURROUNDING NATALIE'S DROWNING
It is believed that Wagner's infidelity and bisexuality played a role in Wood's tragic death. On November 29, 1981, it was announced that Wood drowned in Santa Catalina Island.
She died at 43 while on a boat vacation with Wagner and some friends including co-actor, Christopher Walken. At the time, it was believed she died of accidental drowning. However, Finstad's biography shed more light on the event.
The author claimed that upon investigating, she discovered that Walken was the only guest invited to the couple's vacation because Wood wanted to make her husband jealous. Unfortunately, that only made him furious.
Actress Natalie Wood poses for a portrait on January 01, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
Wood, Wagner, Dennis, and the yacht deckhand Dennis Davern were the only ones aboard when the actress died. At the time Wagner claimed that he didn't see his wife before going to bed the night.
However, Denver's statement kept Wagner in a very compromising spot. The captain claimed that Wood and Wagner argued that night because of Walken, and when she got missing, he ordered Davern not to look for her until after two hours.
After Finstad's biography shed light on some inconsistencies and brought out new evidence which suggested that the actress's death wasn't accidental, authorities listed the cause of Wood's death as "drowning and other undetermined factors. "
However, Wagner continued denying any involvement in Wood's drowning. In 2018, he was listed as a "person of interest" by authorities who confirmed that the actress's death was suspicious.
OTHER WITNESSES STATEMENTS
Wood's sister, Lana, recently came out to corroborate Finstad's account of her sister's marriage to Wagner, including the bisexuality claims. Lana also noted that she didn't believe Wagner's claims about her sister's death.
She claimed that her sister must have been "struck or pushed" while the couple fought on the yacht. Captain Davern also alleged that the "Austin Powers" actor knew about the actress' demise.
Natalie Wood in the Daily News color studio on August 21, 1956 | Photo: Getty Images
Although Davern had given so many statements about Natalie's death, in 2011, he changed his claims and noted that he believed Wagner had a hand in the actress's death.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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