Natalie Wood’s drowning in 1981 “will be spoken, thought, written and replayed dozens of times,” writes Lana, Natalie’s only sister, in a new book.
“This is Hollywood, after all.”
In Little Sister: My Inquiry into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood, 75-year-old Lana adds clarifying details to ongoing speculation about the death of the Oscar-nominated actress, the mysterious end of the stormy life of the star that all four have been talking about. decades.
On November 29, 1981, the body of 43-year-old Natalie Wood was found floating in the ocean near Santa Catalina, where she went on a weekend yacht with her husband Robert. [“R.J.”] Wagner, friend and Brainstorm partner Christopher Walken, and ship captain Dennis Davern.
Here are some of the key takeaways from Lana’s second book on the topic – and certainly her most revealing ones.
It’s worth noting that Little Sister has some chronological inaccuracies that warrant dissatisfaction.
She doubly declares that Robert Wagner is to blame for Natalie’s death.
“I suppose… R.J. struck Natalie on the left side of her face, which left her unconscious, ”Wood writes of that fateful November night, citing bruises and a“ scratching abrasion ”recorded by the Los Angeles coroner’s office.
She continues: “I believe that, suddenly panicked when he realized what he had done, RJ made the fateful decision to throw Natalie into the water to avoid responsibility for what happened.
“I believe that everything he did after that … was focused on hiding this fact in a drunken, jealous, rage-filled moment.”
In the 2020 documentary Natalie Wood: What’s Left Behind, co-produced by Wood’s daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner, Wagner spoke about the night Wood died, saying that they all drank on the beach at dinner and then drank some more. a boat. Wagner argued with Walken. When he finally went to bed, Wood was gone; she and dirty are gone. Wagner said he didn’t know exactly what happened.
Wagner’s lawyer Blair Burke stated in 2013 that Wagner had nothing to do with death.
“After 30 years, neither Mr. Wagner nor his daughters have any new information,” she said in a statement.
She claims that Kirk Douglas attacked Natalie when she was underage.
Lana describes a night at historic Marmont Castle in Los Angeles in the summer of 1955, when the Wood sisters were filming John Ford’s The Seekers.
Lana says she was in the back seat of the family car when their mom dropped the teen Natalie at the hotel.
“Kirk Douglas escorted me to his room,” Natalie allegedly told Lana many years later. Douglas, who died in 2020 at the age of 103, was married to Anne Bidense during the alleged attack.
“Then she became very quiet,” writes Lana, “and her eyes filled with tears. I barely heard her when she added, “And, uh … he hurt me, Lana.”
“[Natalie] never used the words “raped” or “harassed” … She finally added, “It was like an out-of-body experience. I was scared, embarrassed, ”Lana recalls her sister’s words.
Lana writes that she is finally sharing this experience, because “there is no one else to protect.”
Lana recalls that they were 7-15 years old then. However, in the summer of 1955, Lana would have been 9 and Natalie 16 or 17 years old. When asked about the age difference, publicist Harper Collins replied: “The book is a memoir and reflects modern memories of events that took place over six years. decades ago. “
According to her, Wagner’s infidelity led to Natalie’s addiction to sleeping pills.
Lana recalls learning that in 1962, while pouring a drink, Natalie found her then-husband Wagner in a “very compromising position” with his male butler.
In shock, Natalie clutched the glass in her hand until it crashed and injured her. Lana recalls Natalie arriving at their parents’ home, Van Nuys, “completely distraught” with a bleeding hand.
The incident, Lana writes, led Natalie to become addicted to a sleeping pill called Sekonal, also known as Secobarbital.
An affair with director Sydney Pollack allegedly provoked Natalie’s suicide attempt in 1966.
According to Lana, contrary to several reports, her sister’s suicide attempt had nothing to do with her divorce from Wagner four years ago (they got married again in 1972) – nor with the separation from Warren Beatty.
Lana recalls that when Natalie was filming This Property Condemned in 1965, her sister and director Sydney Pollack were “involved in a very passionate romance.” Pollack was married at the time. When he ended their relationship, Natalie was “devastated.”
An assistant later found her unconscious after she “swallowed a handful of sleeping pills.”
She claims she has a copy of Natalie’s unfinished memoir.
The pages, clearly in Natalie’s handwriting, were discovered by a woman Lana had “never heard of.”
The woman worked for a doctor who, after retirement, advised her to “do whatever she wants with his mountains of files, documents and medical journals.”
Lana says that the woman put it all in a storage room for many years, until one day, while cleaning it, she came across an unfinished autobiography of a former client of Dr. Natalie Wood.
In her memoirs, Natalie allegedly quotes Wagner’s betrayal, but does not specify the circumstances of the betrayal: “So destructive that it destroyed the relationship. It was more than the last straw, it was reality, crushing the fragile web of romantic fantasies with the power of a sledgehammer. ”
She confirms the “exact” reason for Natalie’s fear of water.
Lana writes that Natalie’s widely reported fear was triggered by a fortune teller.
According to Lana, the fortune teller told their mother, Maria Zakharenko, that one day she would have a daughter who would become a movie star, but that the life of her famous child “would eventually end in a tragic drowning in dark water.”
Natalie has allegedly been afraid of dark water ever since she heard her mother’s story. This was first reported in the 2020 biography, but Lana confirms it.
Lana shares a few more gaudy – even cute – cameos from male celebrities, from James Dean to John Wayne.
Not every man in Little Sister is considered a monster. Lana made her film debut in The Seekers after John Wayne helped her audition. He later slipped her blackcurrant lozenges on set when the Wood sisters “fell madly in love” with his son Patrick.
Several guys came to their family home to pick up Natalie. One day James Dean came to pick her up; Lana writes that he seemed “sweet and shy.”
Cindy Chang and Maya Lau contributed to this report.