A LOVE THAT ENDED IN TRAGEDY
“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John Corina said in an upcoming interview with CBS’ 48 Hours. “I mean, we now know that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”
Wood died on Nov. 29, 1981, off of Catalina Island in California. At the time, her death was classified as an accidental drowning, but the case was reopened in 2011.
The incident happened while the 43-year-old actress was sailing with Wagner on their yacht, Splendour.
She was found floating facedown in the Pacific about a mile away from the boat, 200 yards off Blue Cavern Point. Two weeks after her death, police wrapped up their investigation after a coroner determined that Wood had a “slightly intoxicated” blood-alcohol level of .14 percent and ruled her drowning accidental. The operating theory: She fell into the water while trying to secure the dinghy.
The Hollywood starlet was married to Wagner from 1972 until her death. Take a look back at the couple’s storied relationship.
I'M GOING TO MARRY THAT MAN
Wood and Wagner met when she was just 14, and the actress immediately informed her mother of her plans, telling her, “I’m going to marry that man.” She would, twice: Once in 1957 and again in 1972, after reconciling following a 1962 divorce.
MEANT FOR EACH OTHER
“They were meant to be together,” Natasha Wood Gregson (Wood’s daughter with second husband, British producer Richard Gregson), says.
NEVER THE SAME
“Before my mom died, my dad was a happy-go-lucky person and the life of the party,” Gregson says. “After she died, there was a heaviness and a sadness to him that hadn’t been there before.”
Wood was determined to overcome her turbulent upbringing as a young actress. “She worked hard on herself because she didn’t want to be a casualty of her childhood,” Gregson says. “She strove for happiness.”
Wagner proposed to Wood in 1957 by placing a pearl-and-diamond ring inscribed “Marry Me” in her crystal champagne glass.
A LOVING FAMILY
“Natalie talked about being a grandmother someday,” Wagner, here with the Wood and the pair’s daughter Courtney, says. “She would have been a wonderful grandmother.”
Gregson describes her childhood in Beverly Hills as “toys and parties and dinners, and my mom in her nightgown, and animals everywhere.”
Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier were friends to Wood and Wagner, whose extravagant parties became the talk of the town.
“My parents celebrated all the holidays to the maximum: Easter, Christmas, Halloween and birthdays were all a big deal,” Gregson says. The pair, with Natasha and Courtney, are pictured above at the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 1976.
“It was like my life was in color – and she died and then it was black and white,” Gregson, who describes having a “funny feeling” before Wood left on her ill-fated boat trip, says. “Don’t go,” she told her mother.
“People know her as this legend, and some people think of her as having a tragic life,” Gregson says, “but that’s not the way I remember her at all.”