So Robert Wagner Killed Natalie Wood? Is That’s What Happening Here?

November 18th, 2011 // 106 Comments

UPDATE: Added video of boat captain Dennis Davern on TODAY point blank saying Robert Wagner did it.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that 90% of you have no idea who I’m talking about, but you’ll sit on my knee and listen or no Werther’s Originals for you. In 1981, screen legend Natalie Wood (Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without A Cause) mysteriously drowned while partying on a yacht, The Splendor, with her husband Robert Wagner (Number 2 from Austin Powers for you whippersnappers) and Christopher Walken (This guy). It was believed she drowned trying to board a dinghy at night, but new information has come forward from the captain that has prompted the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. to reopen the case after 30 years, so just assume Mike McQueary also witnessed this and got a promotion from it. TMZ reports:

In the book — “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour” — Rulli and Splendour Captain Dennis Davern write about the night Natalie drowned. They say before Natalie disappeared from the boat, she was drinking and taking Quaaludes with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.
According to the book, Wagner became enraged when he saw Wood and Walken speaking, and smashed a wine bottle, yelling at Walken, “What do you want to do, f**k my wife? Is that what you want?”
At that point, Walken returned to his cabin and Natalie and Robert went to their state room. According to the Captain, he heard a loud argument between the couple and thumping sounds, and eventually silence.
A short time later, the Captain went to the deck and was told by Wagner, “Natalie is missing.”
The book claims Wagner refused to let the Captain call the Coast Guard.

Apparently this isn’t the first book where witnesses stories don’t match statements given after Natalie’s death, so the case will be officially reopened today and investigators have already interviewed Natalie Wood’s sister Lana about Robert and Natalie’s “volatile” relationship. He’s since released the following statement:

“Although no one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff’s department about this matter, they fully support the efforts of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept.”
The statement continues, “[The Wagners] trust they will evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death.”

Adding… “But, first, you’ll have to withstand my knockout gas! MUAHAHAHAHA!”

(I’m not gonna lie, I would’ve peed a little if that was in the statement. Murder used to be such a refined and classy affair. Now it’s all semen on bedsheets and David Caruso. I don’t like it.)

Photos: Getty


  1. Old joke – Do you know what kind of wood doesn’t float?

  2. aprilstp

    I remember this when i was a whippersnapper! Mr. Reverse Mortgage must smashing bottles all over the old age home right about now.

  3. blueblazingstar

    Christopher Walken has always creeped me out. He did it. He wasn’t trying to f**k Natalie Wood, he was trying to get her smashed enough so he could rape Robert Wagner, and she OD’d so he through her overboard.

    • blueblazingstar


    • HortonHearsABoob


      (And he probably still wound up raping Robert Wagner to boot.)

    • Mee Mee

      Christopher Walken rules. You suck.

    • BE

      You can’t rape the willing (adult, that is). This is a toughie as there have been multiple rumors about Wagner a (aslong term cross dresser and bisexual) and Walken, too.

      An alternate account is that Natalie Wood walked in on Wagner being serviced by Walken and getting so upset (in her drugged state) that she tried to leave the boat and drowned.

      I doubt if We’ll ever know for sure – even with the new forensics.

      I love the old movies with Natalie Wood even though they’re before my generation. I just think she was a wonderful actress from old Hollywood.

      If you have a rainy weekend – watch “Inside Daisy Clover” that’s my personal favorite.

  4. Riverneygpt

    She looks good for a dead woman…………..

  5. Toolbox

    This is why you suck. She died in 1981, not 1983. Every time you write you suck at it. How fucking hard was it check when she died? Every fucking wire story has it right, but you fucked it up. Post pics of D-list celebrities’ asses, and STFU.

  6. yeahright

    Solved: Christopher Walken on a boat with too much cowbell.

    • Carla

      ha! A+

      • catapostrophe

        That’s funny because you considered that Christopher Walken was in that widely appreciated SNL sketch about the cowbell, and you referenced both that sketch and the above story in your mind-blowingly complex comment. A+, indeed!

      • TomFrank

        I agree with cat. You know what would have been funny? If he said that Christopher Walken gave Natalie Wood too much “cham-PAGN-a” that night. Because then he would have worked in an SNL sketch actually semi-relevant to the incident, ’cause she was reportedly drunk.

        Also, I always thought The Continental was funnier than that Cowbell sketch, anyway.

      • kimmykimkim

        True, TomFrank. The Continental was awesome! And besides there was never enough cowbell in the Cowbell sketch. I got a fevah and the only prescription is more cowbell. See? But if I had to pick my favorite Walken tid-bit, it’d have to be the watch scene from pulp fiction. Something about the way he says “in his ass!”

  7. DeucePickle

    So the boat captain vowed to never shower again until this murder was solved ?

  8. TomFrank

    I think the kids know the Natalie Wood drowning thing because Family Guy did a joke about it once. And as you know, the kids today treat Family Guy as the source for all pop culture that predates their birth.

    • Drew

      So what does that say about you, the person pointing out said reference?

      • TomFrank

        Just because I watch Family Guy doesn’t mean it’s my pop cultural touchstone. I was 10 when Natalie Wood died, and yeah, we all told each other that “what kind of wood doesn’t float” joke in school that week.

    • anon

      I hate that, too! I’m 19 and grew up on outdated culture that kids used to make fun of me for liking. Now they all think they’re hilarious when they sing Surfin’ Bird or Shi-Poopi form the Music Man… Makes me so mad! I have a small chip on my shoulder about it, unfortunately.

      Re: Natalie Wood… I always loved her growing up. I used to want to be her character from West Side Story… Don’t know WHAT I was thinking.

  9. chev70

    I remember this story quite well. I whiffed quite a bit at the time.

    Margaret Rutherford would have been all over this, but she was dead by then.

  10. Cock Dr

    So why why why wasn’t this information given out when Ms Wood drowned? Was someone paid off?
    I think someone just wants to sell a crappy book.

  11. Jake Zero

    Well, I guess that’s one kind of wood that doesn’t float.

  12. We lived next door to Lana Wood when this happened. Everyone knew Robert did it. The first 2 rules of Fight Club were modified from the party on that boat. The first rule, you do not talk about throwing Natalie Wood off the boat.

  13. Waldo

    Guess the Sharks got her back in the end, eh?
    …F all you people who don’t get that reference.

  14. tonawanda

    Wait, so McQueary is a bad guy for not doing “enough” to report a crime, but this boat captain is a hero for coming forth NOW, over THIRTY YEARS LATER, about a potential MURDER?


    • derp

      Pretty sure no one’s calling him a hero.

      And yes, McQueary is a bad guy.

    • BE

      Dear God. How many times do we have to point it out. No one is even surprised that A. Pedophiles exist B. They gravitate to sports for victims C. Abuse happens.

      The big issue here is that McQueary took a promotion for allowing Sandusky to get away with AND CONTINUE to rape little boys.

      Plus, the boat captain has been trying to profit from this for the last 30 years – he lacks credibility, get it? But my guess is that modern forensics may produce something that conflicts with the original story. No statute of limitations on murder…

      • Schmidtler

        their lead suspect is now 80 years old. statute of limitations or not, it’s highly unlikely they’ll prosecute an 80 year old man for murdering his wife over 30 years ago on the say so of this numbskull boat captain.

    • gryphon50

      McQueary actually saw a crime perpetrated before his eyes. This boat captain just has a hunch.

  15. Gerttastic

    I say this with no snark, still think she is one of the prettiest actresses ever. These pics don’t do her justice.

    • anon

      I think a huge amount of her pictures don’t do her justice. She’s the kind of person who is just breathtaking on video (and probably in real life). It’s the kind of beauty that doesn’t capture as well from just one angle, and I’m sure that her presence has a huge effect as well.

  16. Deacon Jones

    (LAPD to group of detectives)

    Well, the crime occurred on the water, so at least we have an idea as to the ethnicity of the potential suspect(s).

  17. Minky Wail

    According to IMDB, in 1975 she appeared in an episode of Wagner’s TV show Switch entitled “The Cruise Ship Murders.” She was credited as “Flotsam”.

  18. Wasn’t she as well the one who proved why women can never, ever take a bath in a tub full of champagne?

  19. Artofwar

    …Wagner did the deed, and enjoyed it– but the deed in question is not necessarily actual murder of which he so enjoyed so much.

    Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, and Christopher Walken were the only guests on the yacht on that faithful night. And the old story goes that Robert caught Christopher in the act of attempted naughtiness aimed at Natalie.

    There is some truth to these rumors; however, it was not Robert catching Christopher attempting to explore the inner workings of Natalie’s pantsuit that sparked the drunken push and shove shenanigans.

    It was to be Natalie the one that found Robert and Christopher in the middle of the art of Man on Man exploratory probing that set the subsequent occurrences in to shall we say– Full Blow and Climatic not so happy endings.

    It was not the first time Natalie Wood had caught her husband fully engorged and engaged in Man on Man love—she once busted Robert wide open and bent in half, hands to ankles in the bedroom of their Beverly Hills home.

    Could MAN on MAN LOVE having sparked Natalie Wood’s watery grave ending???

    No one is sure, but one thing you can all be sure of— is that Rock Hudson was not on board that night—so the homo-cide detectives will definitely clear Rock of any Man on Man slash this b#tch must die suspicions—At least for that night anyway.

    Gee, I wonder if Robert Wagner and Rock Hard Hudson were ever pals—just another Hollywood investigation that needs to be deeply and gapingly probed into….Artofwar

  20. Leila

    i would be sad if Wagner was responsible, because he is a really really good parent to his kids, her kids, his stepkids, etc. I just can’t imagine that a man like that, who didn’t have epsiodes of violence at any other time in his life, would do this. People who do crazy shit can’t hide it forever. He’s pretty old to have no other record.

  21. bruisey

    This captain guy might be telling the truth, but he sucks. He doesn’t want to answer any questions because he wants everyone to read his book. What an annoying interview.

  22. it had to be said

    Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson did it!

    Robert Wagner would never get caught because he learned how they solve crime on Hart to Hart.

    Now who’s old, bitches?

  23. mhm

    What if the boat captain did it?

  24. Evil Dick Tater

    There were reports at the time that Wood and Wagner were arguing before the (ahem) accident. I’ve always suspected he gave her a push.

  25. cc

    How much is asking to catch and kill the shark that’s threatening the tourist trade?

  26. MJB

    It’s a sad reality that, when a woman is killed, it is most likely the significant other who’s responsible, not some intruder or stranger lurking about. Hopefully, this time justice delayed isn’t justice denied.

    • TomFrank

      Well, yeah, but that’s when it’s clearly a case of murder. The crux of the matter is whether Wood died accidentally or deliberately.

      • MJB

        Well, Robert Wagner & Natalie Wood were known to have a tempestuous relationship. They had gotten into a heated argument that night over RW’s jealousy over NW & Christopher Walken’s working “relationship.” Christopher Walken was even on the boat with them.
        She, a woman known to be phobic of the sea, (thalassophobic) ,supposedly went into a dinghy by herself in the dark wearing only a nightgown & socks. I’m no Sherlock but it looks like the husband did it.

      • TomFrank

        Well, eight glasses of wine can easily impair judgment and lessen phobias.

        I’m fighting the urge to make a cheap “you weren’t even alive when this happened” remark, because I still want this meet-up between you and me to happen. ;)

    • kimmykimkim

      Sounds like Robert Wagner has a tiny little pee pee. MJB! I came up with that name all by myself! And TomFrank, you can email me too, why not! I have nothing else to add to this story. Basically you guys are too cultured for my dumbass. Yeah, I know where the door is…

      • Agree with MJB.

        Think: The accidential drowning scenario was always implausible. Who had a motive to kill her? Wagner admits in his autobiography that because his first marriage to Natalie ended due to an affair with a co-star (Warren Beatty), he was nervous about Walken, who was at that time co-starring with her in Brainstorm.

        It’s much more likely that the cuckolded and infuriated husband struck her during an argument (causing the unexplained facial injuries) than that she put on a down jacket and attempted to either secure or board the dinghy. (When had she ever done that before? Or was she drunk/strung out enough to no longer fear water? Duh, don’t think so….)

      • BE

        Enjoy the spam slam-and be careful…
        (No offense to TomFrank)

  27. Bane

    I guess they never had a Hart to Hart.

    • it had to be said

      Beat you to it.

      Man, that was a great show. Mt pre-teen crush on Stephanie Powers probably explains a lot, but still.

    • jenyjenjen

      I always thought iot was annoying there was no way to connect with people privately on the superficial. As fish has said we have such a weird little community going on here. Could be nice to have some sort of messaging..

  28. Q. Why didn’t Natlie Wood like to take showers?
    A. She’s rather wash ashore.
    Q. What did Robert Wagner say when Natalie asked for another cocktail?
    A. “Okay, just don’t go overboard.”

  29. I had a strong feeling Chris Walken had a hand in this the moment I saw “Annie Hall.” So, Robert Wagner could be spending the last couple years of his life in prison for murder?! Ouch!

  30. Natalie Wood Robert Wagner
    Commented on this photo:

    Natalie’s mother warned her not to marry Wagner the first time. He was one of agent Henry Wilson’s “boys,” the gay agent who created Rick Hudson, Tab Hunter, and Lee Majors. Susan Finstad wrote a great biography about Natialie. She interviewed people who were on boats near the Splendor the night Natalie drowned. The statements of witnesses (who spoke to the police and had no profit motive) paint a compelling story that Wagner’s irresponsible, drunken actions led to Natalie’s death. I hope the truth finally comes out.

  31. rough, rough, notoriouss

    Wow! This is BIG. I know TMZ going to be all over this.

  32. rough, rough, notoriouss

    Yep spoke too soon.

  33. Taco McSmacko

    She was hot. Although if she were around now she’d be old enough to be my mom! Beautiful as well as hot, classy.

  34. Joe

    Boat captain changes his story 30 years later. At the same time he just happens to be selling a book that no one would ever have known about otherwise. hmmmm…

    • Archies_Leach

      Uh yeah, cosidering the book CAME OUT 2 YEARS AGO.

      The book wasn’t selling so he did this right?

  35. Natalie Wood Robert Wagner
    Commented on this photo:

    Holy crap! It’s PAT! See IT smiling there??

  36. ksmack

    wow, that captain is one uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugly dude–gotta at LEAST shave your cheeks man.

  37. Natalie Wood Robert Wagner
    Commented on this photo:

    Know what kind of wood doesn’t float?

  38. browny

    It was a different time then. Abusive men got away with murder/rape/assault. See Roman Polanski’s excuse for the rape of a 13year old. Things are different now; Chris Brown would have got away with it way back then.

    • blah

      As opposed to all of the “harsh punishments” Chris Brown got? Abusive men still get away with murder/rape/assault. Not that much has changed Mr. Browny…

  39. me

    Is that why the boat captain didn’t even bother to say anything back then?

    • Running Brave

      He did recant his story a few years after she died. No one would listen. His book is out of print so no motive to profit off of that. The police didn’t listen to the witness in the boat docked next to them who reported hearing a woman screaming in the water for help. She also reported hearing a man reply, with slurred speech, that they were coming to help her (not verbatim). After a few more minutes of screaming there was silence. No one ever came to help her. Wagner refused to call for help until 4 hours after she disappeared. Seems clear to me this was deliberate. After learning about Wagner, his first agent, etc. there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest Natalie caught or accused Wagner of man-on-man action w/Walken & threatened to expose him. She caught him once before and that’s why their first marriage ended, along with his career, until he got into a quickie new marriage in Europe & returned to U.S. a believable hetero man. Hollywood was extremely homophobic then – careers ruined if caught. If Natalie told on Wagner & Walken (who just won an Academy award) both of their careers would have been destroyed. Seems like enough of a motive to kill her, at the very least refuse to save her. Walken sure lawyer-ed up quick. Captain won’t discuss the gay-angle because he can’t prove it and Wagner & Walken would sue him for defamation and he’d go broke defending himself. This case was re-opened because it’s clear to those with knowledge that the original stories were b.s. A woman’s life was taken – from her family, her children – with b.s. explanations and a b.s. investigation. Reason enough to re-open, don’t you think?

  40. He thought she was doing the laundry, because he saw her go out with the Tide.

    • Running Brave

      Your comment portrays you as an insensitive, immature and simple-mindned individual with a demented sense of humor.

      • Schmidtler

        were you really on this site expecting mature people expressing a sensitive and sophisticated sense of humor? really?

  41. Rob

    RIP Old Hot Woman, or is it dead hot woman…too soon?

  42. kara

    now i FINALLY get joe’s impression when he falls off a yacht on family guy. geez, that took forever!

  43. Turd Furgeson

    I think the question we all need to be asking is… “Who was Number Two working for??”

  44. Terry

    Please put this shit too rest! Woods was fucking Chris. Robert, Chris and Woods were on that boat probably doing crazy shit.,like a 3 way , doing drugs and getting drunk.
    RJ could have gotten mad that Natalie was more physically attracted to Chris, Natalie put on her mink, grabbed a magnum of Absolut, went up onto the deck, cried her drunk ass off then stumbled overboard and drowned.
    Case closed.

  45. LAURA

    Watch R.J. in “A KISS BEFORE DYING”…Quite capable of incapacitating & throwing Natalie overboard The Splendor I’d say. Yes the ascot wearing Wagner never made it as big in Hollywood as his beautiful doe eyed wife. He also had Jill St John & who knows who else waiting in the wings. Why has it taken so long?

  46. alright I’ll admit I’m young and stupid…but i have boobs so its ok. anyways…really? Walken and the gay stuff? really did I read that right? maybe I’m too hungover, maybe its the strong to cry for no reason, but Really? Walken?

  47. Aussie Mama

    My Mum was a huge fan of Natalies, and said from day 1, Wagner killed her. He was rumored to be having a fling with Jill St.John and married her very quickly after the death anyway…

  48. Rosie selavy

    Everyone knows he did it & always have known

  49. Marta Julie

    Yes Robert Wagner is suspect He already had fling with Jill St. John and very quickly in 1982 ) after Natalie death he got
    to Jill St. John. And on the boat was only R.Wagner & N/ ,Wood and ” Christofer Walken ” who suposed to have relationship with Natalie.
    M. J.

  50. Wow, could the captain have been more poorly prepared and coached for the TV spot? He is horrible. I know it shouldn’t matter, but any cheap lawyer, PR firm, spokespeople… could rip this guy to shreds.

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