There is an extra twinge of sadness when the anniversary of Natalie Wood’s death falls on the same day of the week that the tumultuous events occurred. Thirty-four years ago today, on Sunday Nov. 29, 1981, an airborne search party located Wood’s body in the waters off Santa Catalina Island.
The last time the anniversary of Wood’s death overlapped with a Sunday was 2009. That same fall, Marti Rulli and Dennis Davern’s book Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, which questions the circumstances and original investigation of Wood’s death, had arrived in bookstores via Medallion Press.
Although Robert Wagner has repeatedly dismissed the credibility of former Splendour skipper Davern and the motives of veteran journalist Rulli, the pair’s book led the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in November of 2011 to re-open the investigation into Wood’s death. And Wagner should prepare himself for more such scrutiny, as Rulli tells FishbowlNY that her follow-up book, tentatively titled Natalie Wood’s Justice, will be ready for submission to publishers next March.
Since the re-opening of the investigation into Wood’s death, Wagner has neither submitted to a polygraph test (like Davern, who passed) or actively cooperated with authorities. During that time, Rulli believes the actor has made a number of telling interview comments. In 2014, to promote the publication of You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Wagner sat down with Charlie Rose.
“Wagner speculated that Natalie “rolled off the boat,”” says Rulli. “The LASD detectives were very interested in that particular wordage, as sociopathic liars often tell bits of truth within their lies without even realizing they are doing so.”
“It would be impossible to “roll off” the Splendour at the swim step entrance. One would have to actually be on the swim-step, in a prone position, for “rolling” to occur,” the author notes. “The “rolling” is most likely what Wagner saw up close, and most likely participated with. Wagner’s mental vision was exposed, and more truth was told than he intended.”
“I believe Wagner saw Natalie “roll into the water,” because other medical evidence indicates she was not conscious before entering the water.”