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Captain: Wagner responsible for Natalie Wood death
Question of the Day
She was found wearing a flannel nightgown, socks and a red down jacket and Davern identified her body for authorities, according to an autopsy report. Her body had superficial bruises, according to the report, but those were considered consistent with drowning.
Her death sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved, but Wagner and Wood’s sister have dismissed any suggestion the actress’ death was anything more than an accident. Coroner’s officials at the time agreed, writing that Wood was “possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.”
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the agency hadn’t been asked to do any additional investigation into Wood’s case.
Sheriff’s officials are also hoping for tips from the public that may shed new light on how Wood, who was afraid of being in the water, ended up drowning.
Wood, a three-time Oscar nominee famous for roles in “West Side Story,” `’Rebel Without a Cause” and other Hollywood hits, was 43 when she died. She and Wagner were twice married, first in 1957 before divorcing six years later. They remarried in 1972.
Lana Wood wrote in a biography on her sister, “What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night.”
Wagner, star of the television series “Hart to Hart,” wrote in a 2008 autobiography that he blamed himself for his wife’s death.
He recounted the night of Wood’s disappearance, during which the couple and Walken drank at a restaurant and on the boat. Wood went to the master cabin during an argument between her husband and Walken. The last time Wagner saw his wife, she was fixing her hair at a bathroom vanity and she shut the door.
“Nobody knows,” he wrote. “There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened.”
Later in the book, Wagner wrote, “Did I blame myself? If I had been there, I could have done something. But I wasn’t there. I didn’t see her.”
He wrote that he never saw his wife after she died and has never returned to Catalina Island.
AP reporter Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.
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