Guest Author - Vance Rowe
This “You Be the Judge” article is about the mystery surrounding the mysterious death of the late, great Actress Natalie Wood. She went from child actress to troubled adult, as we have seen in a lot of cases of childhood actors over the past decades. I will give you the information I have surrounding her life and death and I want you to decide for yourself if you believe she was murdered or if her death was accidental.
Natalie Wood was born in San Francisco to Russian Orthodox parents on July 20, 1938. Her birth name was Natalia Zakharenko. However, when she was about four years old, her parents changed her name to Natasha Gurdin. Wood starred in many movies as a child beginning from age five but her most popular child movie was the original “Miracle on 34th Street.” in 1947. When she was just sixteen, she left her childhood roles to star as “Judy” in the classic “Rebel Without a Cause” with James Dean. Many people said that Wood had begun a love affair with James Dean but that was said to be untrue by many of her biographers. In fact, in the book titled simply “Natalie Wood (1938-1981), Gavin Lambert said that she was already dating the director of the movie, Nicholas Ray and was not involved with James Dean.
However, through the years she has been linked to romances with such people as Elvis Presley, Robert Wagner, Christopher Walken, Warren Beatty and Dennis Hopper. However, it is Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner that I will focus on as these were the last two men to see her alive.
She fell in love with Wagner at the tender age of ten years old and he was nine years her senior. They met on a studio lot then and were eventually married in 1957. They were in love and had a storybook life at first, but, alas, their marriage had eventually fallen apart. Robert Wagner eventually got remarried and had a child and Natalie was seeking solace in affairs with the likes of Warren Beatty and one time with Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. She even attempted suicide twice but thankfully failed at those attempts. She also remarried and had a child but in 1972, her and Robert Wagner remarried and had a child together.
In 1981, she starred along with Walken in the sci-fi movie “Brainstorm” and this is when she was thought to have had an affair with the actor. She is still married to Robert Wagner at this time as well. Also, by this time Natalie Wood sought comfort in wine and prescription drugs to calm her when she made public appearances. On the fateful night, Wood, Wagner and Walken were on the yacht Splendor, which was named after her movie “Splendor in the Grass” which also gave her an Oscar nomination. The three of them were drinking heavily and Wagner said that she had about eight glasses of wine. There were also heated words between the three of them regarding her future as an actor.
Natalie Wood was found dead in a dinghy the next morning by the Coast Guard and her death was ruled as an accident. It is said that the dinghy was banging against the boat, causing Wood much sleeplessness. She went to tie the dinghy up, slipped on a step and fell into the dinghy, hitting her head and eventually dying. The dinghy was loose from the boat, supposedly from her trying to retie it and when she fell into it, it floated off. Although her death was ruled an accident, many people from Hollywood said it was murder.
What do you think? Read from the links I provide at the bottom of this article and decide for yourself. Do you think in your heart of hearts that she was murdered or was it a tragic accident? You Be the Judge!