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Sheriff reopens case of actress Natalie Wood's mysterious death

November 17, 2011 |  5:09 pm

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday that it was reopening its case into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, which has been one of Hollywood's most enduring mysteries.

Officials then ruled her drowning death while boating off Santa Catalina Island was an accident. But there has been much speculation about what happened in the boat.

"Recently sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning. Due to the additional information, Sheriff’s homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case," the department said in a statement.

PHOTOS: Natalie Wood | 1938-1981

Wood and Robert Wagner first married in 1957 and divorced five years later. Both went on to marry other people -- and have children -- only to remarry in 1972.

In 1981, Wagner and Wood had invited Christopher Walken to be their guest that Thanksgiving weekend on Catalina aboard their boat the Splendour. On the evening of Nov. 29, they had dinner and drinks at Doug's Harbor Reef. They returned to the boat and continued to drink until a heated argument erupted between the two men. Wagner told The Times in 2008 that it concerned how much of one's personal life should be sacrificed in pursuit of one's career; he was upset that Walken was advocating that Wood give all to her art, even at the expense of her husband and children.

Wood left to go to the master cabin's bathroom. Wagner says he and Walken eventually calmed down and said good night. When he went to bed, he says, Wood wasn't there. It is believed that the dinghy had gotten loose and Wood came up on deck to tie it up.

"I have gone over it so many millions of times with people. Nobody heard anything."



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--Richard Winton

Photo: Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood at the 1979 Hollywood Christmas Parade. Credit: Los Angeles Times; 1981 L.A. Times front page.