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Suspicious Death

Natalie Wood

A beloved Hollywood film actor drowned along the coast of Santa Catalina while on a yacht.

  • Last updated: August 21, 2023
  • Santa Catalina, CA
  • November 28, 1981

Overview of Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood was a beloved Hollywood actress. She was born on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco to Maria Zakharenko and Nicholas Zakharenko and had two siblings. As a child and young adult, Natalie starred in numerous television shows and movies, such as Miracle on 34th Street and Tomorrow is Forever. In 1961, Natalie starred in the film adaptation of West Side Story, which became one of her most iconic roles.

Between film and television, Natalie starred in 56 productions throughout her career. Natalie was married three times, twice to Robert Wagner (1957-1962, 1972) and Richard Gregson (1969–1972), and has two children.

At the time of Natalie's death, she was just 43 years old and was in the midst of filming Brainstorm, starring Christopher Walken. On the evening of November 28, 1981, Natalie Wood, her co-star, Christopher Walken and her husband, Robert Wagner, boarded the 58-foot yacht, Splendor. Natalie, Wanger, Walken, and boat captain, Dennis Daveren went to dinner at a local restaurant around 7:00 p.m.. By 10:30 p.m., they finished dinner, and boarded the Splendor again.

Sometime after they get on the yacht, there is an agreement between Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. The exact reason why they were arguing has not been made public. By 11:05 P.M, the other passengers realized that Natalie was missing. They began to look for her and noticed that the boat's dinghy was gone. Two hours after Natalie was discovered missing, a ship-to-shore call was made.

The next morning, authorities found Natalie's body approximately a mile away from the yacht in an isolated cove known as Blue Cavern Point. The dinghy was found beached nearby. The next day, Natalie's autopsy is performed by Dr. Joseph Choi. Natalie had multiple superficial injuries. She had a recent bruise on her right arm above her wrist. On her left wrist, there was a slight superficial flesh bruise. She also had numerous superficial skin bruises on her lower legs. They appeared to be fresh. She had no deep traumatic injuries to the skull. Natalie's alcohol content was .14 which is .04 above the intoxication standard for California. Her death is ruled an accidental drowning.

Where the case stands today. Years later, in 2011, the case was reopened. Later, Robert Wagner was named a person of interest, however Natalie's case remains unsolved. Most recently, it was the subject of an HBO documentary titled "Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind".


  1. Date of Death:November 28, 1981
  2. Birthday:July 20, 1938
  3. Age at Incident:43

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