Natalie Wood’s 1981 drowning fatality has remained among Hollywood’s an excellent mysteries for 4 decades.

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But she sister Lana wood believes there is one human to blame because that the “West next Story” actress’ death: Natalie’s husband, Robert Wagner.

“I don’t think it to be premeditated,” Lana, 75, said The Post. “But that doesn’t median I don’t think that did it: Of course he did!”

Now, she has written “Little Sister: my Investigation into the Mysterious fatality of Natalie Wood” (Dey Street Books), out Tuesday. The publication — component memoir, part true-crime investigation using brand-new evidence dug increase by homicide detectives — intends to dispel the myths and illuminate the facts neighboring Natalie’s tragic death.

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Lana wood (left), the younger sister the Natalie wood (far right), believes the the actress’ death came at the hands of she widower, Hollywood star Robert Wagner (center).Getty Images; NY post photo composite

In it, Lana also alleges that actor Kirk Douglas sexually struck a teenage Natalie —confirming one of Hollywood’s earliest rumors.

According come the book, your mother, Maria, had dropped 16-year-old Natalie in ~ the Chateau Marmont to meet Douglas, a very important gibbs at the time.


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Lana was asleep in the automobile when Natalie lastly came back, disheveled and upset, whispering angrily at their mother.But Natalie later on told her what had happened: Maria had arranged a meeting through Kirk Douglas, who sexually attacked Natalie.

“I knocked ~ above the door mom told me to go to, and also next point I knew, Kirk Douglas was ushering me into his suite,” Natalie said her, Lana to write in the book.

Then Natalie started to cry before murmuring softly, “He ache me, Lana … it was choose an out-of-body experience. I was terrified. Ns was confused.”

“That really affected her entire life — how she looked in ~ things and how she viewed things,” Lana recalled. However Natalie did nothing about it, “because the my mom telling her that she’d damage her career, she’d never ever work again.”

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Lana lumber drops plenty of bombshells in she upcoming memoir “Little Sister: my Investigation right into the Mysterious death of Natalie Wood.” AP

After that, “Natalie to be so guarded … and she yes, really mistrusted men after that.”

Which provides Lana’s allegations around Natalie’s fatality all the much more heartbreaking.

Lana woke up in her Los Angeles residence the morning the Nov. 29, 1981, to a ringing call —followed through a blood-curdling scream.

The 35-year-old leaped out of bed, discovered her wailing mom on the floor and took the phone away from her.

“I’m therefore sorry, Lana. I just heard about Natalie,” claimed her friend on the line.

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Lana (far left) and also Natalie as children and also together as adult in 1981 (Lana, far right).Ron Galella

Natalie was, at the moment, an alleged to be on a yacht v Wagner and her friend and current co-star Christopher Walken.

“They found her body this morning,” the friend explained. “Washed up on shore on Catalina .”

At first, Lana didn’t think it. Climate she turn on the TV. Follow to break news, Natalie had disappeared indigenous the yacht throughout the night, supposedly taking a dinghy come — she husband would later on say — “party hop.” her body was found floating in the water the following morning, in a nightgown, socks and also a down jacket.

According to “Natalie Wood: What continues to be Behind,” a 2020 documentary do by Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, the manager the a mainland restaurant wherein Natalie, Wagner, Walken and the yacht’s skipper, Dennis Davern, had actually dined the night prior to was worried they to be all too intoxicated to make it ago to the yacht. (Wood’s toxicology report revealed a blood-alcohol contents of 0.14 percent, virtually twice most states’ DWI limit.) yet they did make it back, after 10:30 p.m. In the documentary, Wagner states he and Walken got into one argument, but both thought Natalie was safe on the boat.

They went trying to find her just after 11 p.m. And apparently discovered the dinghy missing.

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Natalie drowned on Nov. 29, 1981, if boating turn off Catalina Island on the yacht Splendour.Paul Harris, PacificCoastNews.co
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Husband Robert Wagner said that Natalie had taken a dinghy (above) from the yacht to walk “party-hopping,” but Lana finds this out of character for her sister.ZUMAPRESS.com

“None that the points that said or that the police stated at the time rang true to me,” wood told The write-up from her home in Los Angeles.

“The points that they to be saying the Natalie did” — the the nightgown-wearing actress had taken the yacht’s dinghy to “party hop” among the watercrafts parked in the harbor — “they might also have been saying the she to be trying to paris to another planet. Castle were completely out of character.”

A representative because that Wagner had no comment.

Over the next couple of months, she tried to get much more answers native Wagner —but that swiftly cut Lana out of his life, telling her to only contact him with his lawyer. She tried no to review too much into his strange behavior.

But 10 year after Natalie’s death, she got a phone contact out that the blue indigenous Dennis Davern, the yacht’s skipper.

“I no tell the cops everything,” the said between tears. “Not also close.”

In 2011, the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s department reopened the caseafter Davern‘s 2009 book, “Goodbye Natalie, goodbye Splendour,”revealed hehad heard the married couple arguing prior to Natalie’s disappearance. That year, the coroner changed the reason of fatality to “drowning and other undetermined factors”after re-evaluating the instance details, including that Natalie’s body appeared to have fresh bruises as soon as it was originally found. Police reclassified the instance as “suspicious” and, in2018, named Wagner, now 91, a “person the interest.”The case remains open.

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Wagner and also Natalie on your yacht.Getty Images

“It isn’t because that my sake, it’s because that Natalie’s,” Lana said of the book. “I felt favor nobody to be watching end Natalie. Nobody to be trying to, you know, stand up for her … She would have actually done the same for me.”

Natalie timber was born in 1938 in san Francisco, the oldest child of Russian immigrants. A fortune novelist told she mother, Maria, the she would offer birth to a famous actress, and Maria did her ideal to manifest that prediction. By the moment Lana was born, in 1946, 8-year-old Natalie was already a movie star, exhilaration alongside Orson welles in “Tomorrow Is Forever” and filming “Miracle top top 34th Street.”

“I basically prospered up on she sets,” Lana said, including that her mommy would drag baby Lana to watch Natalie work. Lana nabbed her very first film function when she was 7, play a younger variation of she sister’s personality in the western “The Searchers.”

Lana never felt shy approximately Natalie’s Hollywood friends favor Dennis Hopper and Tab Hunter, that would often come over and swim, or her boyfriends prefer hotel heir Nicky Hilton. One day, Natalie’s quiet “Rebel there is no a Cause” co-star James Dean come by, and also Lana ambushed him.

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“I rotate off every the lights and shone a flashlight top top the wall and relocated it quickly up and down so it looked choose it to be dancing — I assumed it looked prefer a stylish movie, and also I want to show him,” she said. “Poor Jimmy Dean sat v it and also then called it to be wonderful.”

But Robert — “R.J.” — Wagner to be different. The 26-year-old actor, who had actually starred in “PrinceValiant” and “A Kiss BeforeDying,”began date Natalie as soon as the actress was 18, and also he never also uttered a “hello” to 10-year-old Lana.

“I remember him walking down the hall previous my room and also that that had an extremely blue eyes,” she said. “Other than that, ns felt certain nothing towards him.”

In 1957, “When they got married the first time, ns cried loudly throughout the whole ceremony,” Lana said. Afterward, Natalie went over and put she arm roughly Lana, questioning her what was wrong. “I said, ‘I just lost you.’ and you know what? i was right. I did.”

Lana continued to watch Natalie — also living through her and R.J. In ~ one allude when tensions with her mom reached a boiling allude — yet she noticed that her sister’s brand-new husband greatly stayed the end of her way. Still, she was shocked in 1962 when Natalie proved up at your parents’ house, distraught and with a bleeding hand.

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Natalie’s mother, Maria (from left), Natalie, Wagner’s mother and also Lana pose on the work of Natalie and Wagner’s an initial marriage, in 1957.Getty Images

Natalie said her family members she had walked in top top Wagner “in a compromising position” with his butler and also was for this reason “enraged that she squeezed the glass she was holding until it shattered and cut her,” Lana writes.

The couple divorced, with the press blaming the breakup on Natalie’s affair through her “Splendor in the Grass” co-star Warren Beatty. Lana said her sister didn’t start dating Beatty until after she and also Wagner had actually split.

Natalie go on come marry producer Richard Gregson and also give bear to their daughter, Natasha; Wagner wed actress Marion Marshall, with whom he had actually daughter Katie. But 10 years later, both newly single, Natalie and also Wagner announced castle were obtaining married come each other a second time.

When Lana express confusion around their reunion,given that Wagner had cheated on she sister v a man,their mother glibly parroted, “He’s cured” of homosexual tendencies.

Pushed by Lana ~ above the matter, Natalie called her: “Sometimes the evil one you recognize is far better than the devil you nothing know.”

“I would have actually really chosen to hear, ‘I love that dearly and also I can’t live without him,’ something favor that,” Lana said. “But to provide me a quote around devils? It really didn’t sit well.”

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Natalie and also Wagner v their children Natasha (left) and also Courtney in 1978.Courtesy of HBO

Natalie and also Wagner’s daughter, Courtney, to be born in 1974, and also after making such hits as “Gypsy,” “West side Story” and also “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” Wood had actually largely disappeared indigenous the large screen. In 1981, she to be making the sci-fi movie “Brainstorm” with Walken, and the 2 hadbecome pals.

He was on the watercraft the night she died, however has never spoken publicly about her death. (Lana said The short article that walken has spoken with the detectives at this time working on the case, under the problem that his remarks would never ever be do public.)

Lanatold The write-up that she doesn’t believe Natalie and Walken ever before slept together, however that they to be close and had an excellent chemistry. “Everybody flirts top top sets.”

After Natalie’s death, follow to the book, Wagner began to act Lana through outright hostility. He would certainly invite she daughter and mother come dinner and also exclude her. That ragged ~ above Lana come the push after she offered some the Natalie’s clothes, and had his lawyer attract up a statement because that Lana to sign, relinquishing any and all further claims versus Natalie’s estate.

Lana — a at some point actress who was shortcut girl lot of O’Toolein “Diamonds room Forever” — had actually been employed behind the scene in film production, but after she sister’s death, she can not find any work. Eventually, Rowland Perkins, chairman of the creative Artists Agency, dubbed her and told her the Wagner had gotten her blacklisted in the industry.

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Lana poses under a portrait of she late sisters in 1991.Getty Images

“I have no idea other than it came back to me the he considers me a loose cannon,” Lana called The Post.

She started marketing dolls and also got a job as a salesperson for Sprint. She and also her young daughter moved in with Maria, who was life in one of Natalie’s old condos. Climate Wagner kicked her out, explaining he to be the rightful owner.

“He was trying to make sure and sink me, however he wasn’t may be to,” Lana said. “He didn’t ruin me.”

In the early 1990s, Dennis Davern began calling her, talking around Natalie and also Wagner’s troubled relationship. Hetold Lana — and also would create in a 2011 testimonial — thathe overheard Wagner suspicion Walken of wanting to “f–k” Natalie. He declared that the married pair had a fight the end on the boat’s deck right prior to she went absent and that Wagner prevented that from placing out a call to shore for a absent person.

In 2009, Davern collaborated top top a book around the incident, which exposed numerous inconsistencies in evil testimonials and holes in the investigation.

For one, Wagner had told police the his wife most likely tried to take the dinghy out once she drowned, yet Davern claimed Natalie couldn’t run the dinghy. Plus, she couldn’t swim and also had a significant phobia of dark water — due to that prophecy her mother had received indigenous a happiness teller, that not just told she she would have a renowned daughter, but also that she daughter would certainly drown.

Wagner had likewise said that Natalie had actually probably bring away the dinghy the end to go party hopping, yet the actress was wearing her nightgown and also slippers.

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According to Lana, a young Natalie (above) to be sexually assaulted by Kirk Douglas.Getty Images

In 2011, the Los Angeles ar Sheriff’s department reopened the case, interviewing other vital witnesses, who the initial detectives never ever bothered pursuing. The publication mentions one woman who talked come the press shortly after Wood’s death — ~ trying to contact the police numerous times — then obtained a threatening note saying, “If you value your life, save quiet about what girlfriend know.”

A coroner discovered that Natalie had actually fresh bruises on her body the didn’t look prefer they to be from the watercraft but indigenous a person.

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Lanawrites in her bookthat she believes Wagnerand Natalie had an “alcohol-fueled argument” the “escalated right into a physics confrontation” and also that Wagner “delivered a punch to the left side of Natalie’s face that knocked her unconscious.”

“I believe,” she writes, “that suddenly, panic-stricken once he establish what he’d done, R.J. Made the fatal decision to put Natalie in the water to prevent being hosted responsible because that what had actually happened.”

The book speculates the Wagner sentDavern — who had actually come up to intervene — to look for the “missing” Natalie “to provide himself time to untie the dinghy.” Davern stated in his testimonial that Wagner walk tell him not to revolve the searchlights ~ above or to speak to the authorities till two hrs later, and also Lana writes the she believes the he walk this come “ up the reality that, in a drunken, jealous, rage-filled moment, he’d finished the life the Natalie Wood.”

Still, Lana claimed she didn’t create the publication to bring down she brother-in-law.


Last year HBO exit a documentary top top the actress and also her untimely death called “Natalie Wood: What stays Behind.”

“Wagner is not going to jail. He’s no going to it is in arrested. He’s not going to admit anything,” Lana explained. “All I can do is attempt to have people understand the truth, and to show Natalie as she yes, really was.”