'He Had to Be Both Mom and Dad': Natalie Wood's Daughter, Natasha, on How Stepdad Robert Wagner Raised Her After Natalie's Death

How the star's daughter and Robert Wagner grew close following her death

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Natalie Wood’s daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner is opening up about the private side of the beloved mother she lost in a tragic boating accident. Subscribe now for the exclusive untold story, only in PEOPLE.

After her mom’s death, Natalie Wood’s daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner remembers how her stepfather Robert Wagner confirmed the news she had drowned. “It was just the unthinkable,” says Natasha. “I just remember it was the worst thing ever. My whole world just went to black and white and I couldn t hear anything ”

In the months and years that followed, Natasha, 45, the daughter of Wood and her second husband Richard Gregson, grew exceptionally close to Wagner, who raised Natasha, Katie Wagner (his daughter with his second wife, Marion Marshall) and Courtney (his daughter with Wood) together.

“I think my Dad and Daddy Gregson, they were trying to pick up the pieces for us and stumble forward and find out what our life looked like after that,” says Natasha. “I was so lucky I had two dads who were deeply committed to raising me and helping me through.”

“I grew up always thinking I had two dads,” she says. “I’m certain because my mom died, my relationship with my stepdad is way deeper than it would have been had she lived, because he had to be my mom and dad.”

For much more on Natalie Wood, including never-before-seen family photos, and pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

In turn, she saw his sadness up close. “Before my mom died, my dad was a happy go lucky person and kind of the life of the party,” she says. “After she died, when I would look at him from a distance, from my bedroom window walking into the house, there was a heaviness and a sadness to him that hadn’t been there before.”

“He’s better now,” says Natasha, who has created a new fragrance in honor of her mom. “We’ve been in a lot of family therapy, my family and I, to process everything and by the grace of God, we all moved forward.”

Wagner, 86, feels the same way. “My bond with her is very, very intense,” he tells PEOPLE. “We’ve hung on to each other throughout the years and she means the world and all to me.”

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