Four years ago today, the following statement was being circulated in the media:
Robert Wagner’s publicist issued a statement saying his family supported the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department “and 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.”
The “profit” dig was a veiled reference to Marti Rulli and former Splendour captain Dennis Davern, co-authors of the 2009 book that led to the re-opening of the Wood LASD investigation. As another anniversary of Wood’s Nov. 29, 1981 death looms, it is the Wagner family who some feel are now trying to inappropriately profit.
On Monday at Bonhams on Madison Ave., as part of the latest TCM-sponsored offering of movie memorabilia, a wide variety of items owned by Wood will be auctioned. Given all the theorizing about Wood’s terrifying final hours, some of the artifacts are downright eerie.
Three of four signed documents in Lot #50, for example, relate to Wood’s WGA registration of Motherlove Company, a project-specific entity, a few months before she died. Lot #53 meanwhile features Wood’s bound screenplay and related archive for Brainstorm, the posthumously released film that co-starred the Wagners’ special guest aboard the Splendour that 1981 Thanksgiving weekend, Christopher Walken.
Frontiers Media columnist Mike McCrann, who worked on an unpublished biography of Wood in the late 1970s and spoke with the actress at the time about the project, is horrified by her inclusion in the Bonhams auction. He argues that the items should have been donated to a museum or non-profit, concluding his op-ed with:
Shame on Robert Wagner and his family for allowing this to happen. Natalie Wood deserved better!
In the Bonhams auction notes, stepdaughter Natasha Gregson Wagner explains that “So much of this memorabilia has just been sitting around in a storage room since 1982 and I thought it would be nice for it to be seen, for the public to have some of it.” She has also unveiled Natalie, an $85 fragrance created in honor of Wood, which is available now via the Web and will be marketed into stores over the coming months.