‘Petrified’ Natalie Wood Begged Captain to Take Her Away from Wagner a Day before Her Death

Oyin Balogun
Dec 06, 2021
01:30 P.M.
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Mystery surrounded Natalie Wood's death. Records showed that the Hollywood icon was terror-stricken and even begged to be taken away from her husband Wagner a day before her devastating death.

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Joining showbiz as a child star, Natalie Wood won the hearts of fans with her brilliance on set and stunning looks. Her acting prowess only catapulted her to tremendous success as she grew older.

Wood was also the recipient of several awards. However, while she must have been envied for her success as a movie star, Wood didn't have a rewarding love life. The actress's career was also cut short when her life came to a mysterious end.

Picture of actress Natalie Wood [left], American actors Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, circa 1960 [right]. | Photo: Getty Images

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 WOOD'S EARLY YEARS

Decades after the "Splendor in the Grass" actress died on a yacht while vacationing with loved ones, never before seen details of her memoir were revealed, and it gave closer insight at her relationship.

According to some information released, Wood first met Robert J. Wagner, who later became her husband, when she was 10.

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner in London, July 1st 1976. | Source: Getty Images

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It was a brief encounter, but they met again when she was 17 for a photo session. Their second encounter was enough to get Wagner captivated by the actress and set a date to see her after a few weeks. She wrote in one of the passages:

"On July 20, 1956, on my 18th birthday, he escorted me to the screening of The Mountain. The next morning he sent flowers and a note, promising, 'I'll see you again.'"

Wagner was Wood's husband till she died, and they had a daughter, Courtney Wagner, together. Sadly, news of how the actress was unhappy in her marriage surfaced after she mysteriously vanished in the waters off California's Catalina Island on November 28, 1981.

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Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, and daughters Katie Wagner, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and Courtney Wagner in 1980. | Photo: Getty Images

WAGNER'S ROLE IN WOOD'S DEATH 

While investigations were ongoing at the time of Wood's death, officials named Wagner a "person of interest." This happened after the yacht captain she vanished from revealed the late actress and her husband were having disagreements.

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According to Captain Dennis Davern, who was on board alongside Wood, Wagner, and her "Brainstorm" co-star Christopher Walken, there was so much jealousy and tension between the couple. And when Wood couldn't stand her husband's attitude any longer, she decided to go ashore.

Robert Wagner with his former wife American actress Natalie Wood, 23rd April 1972. | Photo: Getty Images

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Davern revealed that he took the "Miracle on 34th Street" actress to a motel, and the two had a long talk. While they were alone, Wood confided in Davern on how she had planned on leaving Wagner.

The captain further stated that the actress had even intended to get a seaplane and head back home the following day, but this never happened as Wood went missing hours later after they returned to the yacht. 

Natalie Wood in the Daily News color studio on August 21, 1956 | Photo: Getty Images

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Sadly, when they eventually found her, she was in a nightgown, red Jacks and socks, floating off the coast of Southern California.

But it wasn't until about thirty years after the Golden Globes winner's death was ruled an accident that a homicide investigation was opened in her case. 

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Further reports showed that Davern said the "Rebel Without a Cause" actress and her husband fought in their cabin before the actress went missing.

Coroner's officials ruled her death an accidental drowning, which could have been caused by her slipping off the boat while trying to tie down a lifeboat.

Natalie Wood poses for a portrait session at home in 1952 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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THE NEW CASE

Captain Davern admitted he didn't tell the whole truth about the events that surrounded Wood's tragic death, and he urged Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide investigators to reopen the case. 

Once speaking about the incident during an interview, Davern said he believed the fight between Wood and Wagner led to her death. The captain also noted that Wagner had intentionally kept the investigation simple and didn't do all he could have done.

As time went on, the case only developed more questions, and the deceased actress's sister Lana also laid claims that kept Wagner on the front page in the case.

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Natalie Wood (1938-1981), US actress, wearing a red top and holding a pink flower, in a studio portrait, against a yellow background, circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

While speaking in an interview, the grief-stricken sister said she believed Wagner withheld details from authorities after her sister's death. However, Davern and Lana weren't the only ones deeply affected by Wood's drowning.

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Her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner was 11 when the mysterious incident took place, and she never got over the loss. Natasha is Wood's daughter with her ex-husband, producer Richard Gregson.

Nearly 40 years after Wood drowned, Natasha at 51 revealed that she still misses her mom as she reflected on the "West Side Story" star's memory in an interview. She even revisited the story that had led to her mother's mysterious death in her memoir "More Than Love."

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood at Heathrow Airport on May 28, 1976 | Photo: Getty Images

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WOOD'S DEATH 

Wood's tragic incident has been a mystery for years, and every time, it seems more complicated to reach a definite conclusion. However, her death has been revisited in the book "Natalie Wood" with new details that insinuate Wood didn't drown by chance.

The book's author believes that Wagner played a big part in the late movie star's death. According to reports, the author shares some of Wood's darkest secrets, and Wood didn't always have a splendid life.

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner on January 01, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images

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WOOD'S SECRET MEMOIR 

Wood's memoir uncovered more information about her relationship with Wagner and how she allegedly died. The secret memoir was written years before the Hollywood star's death, and it was handed over to authorities by her sister Lana who believed it would help the investigation.

A page of the book released sees Wood's write-up on how she was surrounded by people but felt alone. It also notes that her relationship with Wagner was filled with flaws. When the book was handed to officials, Lana reported being shocked by its details.

Actress Natalie Wood poses for a portrait on January 01, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images

The documentary of Wood's life and the events surrounding her death are also up on Apple Podcast for all fans. "THE NIGHT BEFORE" - "The Mysterious Death Of Natalie Wood" now has several episodes on how Wood had planned to leave her husband but sadly didn't live long enough.

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