Alt Film Guide
Classic movies. Gay movies. International cinema. Socially conscious & political cinema.
Home Movie CraftsActors + Actresses Natalie Wood Sensational Death: Murder Rumors Continue Unabated

Natalie Wood Sensational Death: Murder Rumors Continue Unabated

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Natalie WoodThree decades after Natalie Wood’s death in late November 1981 – ruled an accidental drowning – new stories have been coming out regarding What Actually Happened.

Now, The Huffington Post quoting something – “a sex secret” – found in The National Enquirer? And, to boot, under the heading “Natalie Wood Death: An Alleged Affair With Christopher Walken Is Revealed.” That’s pretty low.

Rumors of an affair between Wood and Walken, the two stars of visual effects master/director Douglas Trumbull’s Brainstorm, have been floating around since the early ’80s. Other rumors have Walken dating Robert Wagner, Wood’s husband. Others yet have a WWW triangle: Wood, Walken, and Wagner all rolled up as one.

Although anything could have happened, it makes little sense that various people – including one with a book out – would finally be revealing the truth in 2011 about a death that took place exactly thirty years ago. Why didn’t all those revelations – from love triangles to death threats and desperate cries in the middle of the night – come out back in 1988? 1996? 2007? (If any came out back in 1981, they surely weren’t taken seriously.)

This reminds me of another death that allegedly was the result of foul play on another November boat trip, this one back in 1924. That’s when film producer Thomas H. Ince was taken ill while aboard publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. Ince died on Nov. 19.

The yellow press claimed that Ince had died after being shot by Hearst because of an alleged affair with Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies. According to other such tales, Hearst had actually aimed his gun at Charles Chaplin after catching The Little Tramp in an NC-17 situation: Chaplin was either on top of Davies or topped by her – I forget the exact positions. Those stories have been debunked elsewhere, though many have chosen to believe the sensational lies. Chances are that’s what’s going to happen in Natalie Wood’s case as well.

A beautiful (the older she got, the more striking she became) and at times a quite capable actress, Wood was nominated for three Academy Awards: as Best Supporting Actress for Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), with James Dean and Sal Mineo; and as Best Actress for Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961), losing her sanity after being rejected by rich boy Warren Beatty, and Robert Mulligan’s Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), unmarried, pregnant, and loved by Steve McQueen. Wood’s best performance, however, was in Paul Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), as the female half of one of the film’s two swinging couples (Robert Culp, Dyan Cannon, and Elliott Gould were the other partiers).

Recommended for You

Leave a Comment

*IMPORTANT*: By using this form you agree with Alt Film Guide's storage and handling of your data (e.g., your IP address). Make sure your comment adds something relevant to the discussion: Feel free to disagree with us and write your own movie commentaries, but *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative. Abusive, inflammatory, spammy/self-promotional, baseless (spreading mis- or disinformation), and just plain deranged comments will be zapped. Lastly, links found in submitted comments will generally be deleted.


Steve Wright -

No one knows exactly what happened that night except the people that were there. It’s real easy to jump on speculation especially with bruises, liquor, and drugs. I don’t know if it’s even possible to get satisfying evidence from a 30 plus year old event. I adored Natalie and named my 36 year old daughter after her. She had a presence that was indefinable, and beauty beyond words. I just hope that she is at peace and somehow knows how loved and missed she is….

sandy miles -

You forgot how terrific she was in This Propery is Condemned with Redford co-starring and directed by Sidney Pollack. Brilliant movie. None of these 3 brilliant people have ever been given the credit they deserve by critics or Hollywood. All we ever hear about from the past is that pathetic, caricature of a woman Marilyn Monroe.
caricature of men James Dean and Marlon Brando…critics are so predictable if you’re gay, crazy, pathetic, dysfunctional or have sex on screen you’re very talented.

moira regis -

I have no idea what happened on that boat the night poor Natalie Wood drowned, but judging from all I’ve heard about Christopher Walken’s lifetime love affair with pot, I find it hard to believe that he’d have had the incentive to take any kind of active part in her death. And Robert Wagner is apparently a much tougher customer than his still-boyish looks indicate. This does not mean I think he had a hand in his wife’s death, because I never knew any of these people personally. So what the hell do I know?

Roamer -

@RITA…and I suppose the “National Enquirer” and that slop rag “Huffington Post” are responsible and sensible???

This article calls a spade a spade….no new proof of a scandal or even any NEW revelations have been proven…just a bunch of trash spewed by sensationalists cashing in on a tragedy that happened 30 years ago.. I applaude Andre Soares for calling out the Huffington Post and Enquirer for what they are…trash rags!!!

At least we agree on one point: ” A thorough, ethical, and responsible investigation of Ms. Wood’s death is long overdue.”

Rita -

This article is neither sensible nor responsible. The author clearly has not conducted any research on this matter. The statements made are inaccurate and incomplete. This is simply irresponsible journalism. A thorough, ethical, and responsible investigation of Ms. Wood’s death is long overdue.

AM -

And I suppose Dolly has never read anything non-sensationalist or non-slanderous. Dennis Davern admits to being drunk and high that weekend himself. And Natalie Wood had a difficult relationship with her younger sister and her parents for most of her life. Lana wasted no time writing a book and selling Natalie’s things soon after she died. The people who always saw Natalie as a meal ticket have continued to use and exploit her. But the friends she was closest with and the men she married have never sold her out to the press or the public. If you want to “trust” someone, trust Natalie Wood’s judgment, instead of a drunk who was always in trouble (and bailed out by the Wagners more than once) and a woman who would sell her sister’s soul for some money and time in the spotlight if she could.

Dolly -

You obviously have not read the captain’s book or heard what Lana Wood has to say about Natalie’s drowning.

AM -

Amen. These “new” reports aren’t even all that new. It’s like these people are hoping to catch readers who’ve never heard anything about Natalie Wood’s drowning before, of whom there are many, apparently. Those of us who have paid attention over the years, however, know they were all just drunk…and had been drinking for two days. Natalie Wood died in a horrible, tragic, senseless accident fueled by alcohol and possibly prescription drugs. It should never have happened, and the people who loved her (her children and husband especially) had their lives shattered by it. But it wasn’t a crime or a murder or a kinky three-way sex scandal. It’s a shame that the LAPD feels compelled (for whatever reason) to legitimize the nonsense people have been spewing for years to sell books or gain fame. Every time Lana Wood or Dennis Davern is interviewed like a reliable source, I feel a little sick to my stomach.

P.S. I think Natalie was at her best in Bob & Carol too! Fantastic, hilarious, thought-provoking movie.

Roamer -

Thank you for a sensible article and some responsible writting.
Natalie Wood was a great loss, much to young.
If nothing else this fiasco of book deals and media slurry
Reminds us of how wonderful Natalie was…Im going to
go watch the Great Race with her in it now….my favorite of her movies.


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. If you continue browsing, that means you've accepted our Terms of Use/use of cookies. You may also click on the Accept button on the right to make this notice disappear. Accept Read More