NEW YORK (AP). It was one of Hollywood’s darkest rumors for decades: Teenage Natalie Wood was sexually abused by a leading movie star more than twice her age when she met him at a Los Angeles hotel.
In next week’s memoir, Wood’s younger sister identifies the long-suspected attacker: Kirk Douglas.
“I remember Natalie looked especially beautiful when my mother and I dropped her off that night at the entrance to Château Marmont,” writes Lana Wood in Little Sister, claiming that the incident took place in the summer of 1955, around the time Natalie Wood was on the set of The Searchers. The meeting was organized by their mother, Maria Zakharenko, who thought that, according to Lana Wood, “many doors could be thrown open for her, simply by nodding his famous beautiful head on her behalf.”
“It seemed like a long time before Natalie got into the car and woke me up when she slammed the door,” she writes. “She looked terrible. She was very disheveled and very upset, and she and her mother began to whisper insistently. I could not hear them or make out what they were saying. Something bad obviously happened to my sister, but whatever it was, I was too young to talk about it. “
According to Lana Wood, Natalie Wood did not discuss what happened with her until both were adults, and Natalie, after describing how she was brought to Douglas’s room, told her sister, “And, uh … he hurt me, Lana. “
“It was like an out-of-body experience. “I was scared, I was confused,” Lana Wood recalls her words. Lana, now 75 years old and about eight years old when the alleged incident occurred, remembered how her sister and their mother agreed that publicly accusing Natalie would ruin Natalie’s career.
In Little Sister’s words, “Soak it up,” is what Maria advised, much of whom is focused on the death of Natalie Wood in 1981, when her body was found off Catalina Island in California. The authorities initially ruled that death was an accidental drowning, but this changed after years of careful study and new witnesses. At the time, Wood’s husband, Robert Wagner, was named a person of interest, and Lana Wood is among those who hold him responsible for her death.
In her book, she recalls promising her sister not to discuss Douglas’ assault on her, but rumors were so widespread that when he died in 2020 at the age of 103, Natalie Wood’s name appeared alongside his name on Twitter. Lana Wood, whose own acting work includes The Searchers and Peyton Place, believes that enough has changed since her conversation with Natalie so that she can now tell the whole story.
“Since there is no one else to protect, I am sure she will forgive me for finally breaking this promise,” she wrote.
Douglas’s son, actor Michael Douglas, said in a statement released through his publicist, “May they both rest in peace.”
Kirk Douglas, who was in his late thirties at the time of the alleged attack, was best known for films such as Spartacus, The Bad and the Beautiful, and OK Paddock Shootout. He was also one of the first major actors to form his own production company and a prominent liberal activist widely credited with helping to get off the Cold War blacklist against communist suspects when he hired Dalton Trumbo to write Spartacus and contributed it to the list. title for the 1960 issue. Douglas and his second wife, Anne, donated millions of dollars through the Douglas Foundation, which they founded in 1964, with a mission to “help those who otherwise would not be able to help themselves.”
Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and the Order of the Legion of Honor from France in 1985. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1996, when he was praised by the film academy as “creative and moral strength.”
Douglas himself admitted that he was a womanizer and an unfaithful husband. Speaking to the Associated Press about Douglas in December 2016, less than a year before the #MeToo movement took off, actress and dancer Neil Adams said lightheartedly of her friend, “You couldn’t sit next to him if his hand didn’t climb up your leg. “
In his 1988 memoir, The Son of Ragman, Douglas writes briefly about Natalie Wood. He recalls driving home one night and stopped at a red light. The car door in front of him opened, and “a pretty little girl in a suede jacket jumped out” and ran up to him.
“Oh Mr. Douglas, could you please sign my jacket?” – he recalls her words. “As I did, the woman who was driving came out and introduced her. ‘This is my daughter. She also acts in films. Her name is Natalie Wood. This was the first time I met Natalie. Subsequently, I saw her many times before she died in that brutal accident. “