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Natalie Wood: Murder squad re-opens probe into 30-year mystery that's haunted Hollywood

A MURDER squad has re-opened their investigation of actress Natalie Wood's death -- 30 years after she drowned in one of Hollywood's most enduring mysteries.

The cold case review of Wood's death on November 29, 1981 was prompted by new information detectives received about the case, Los Angeles county sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

No additional details were provided, but a detective planned to hold a news conference later today, and anyone with information about the case was being asked to contact sheriff officials.


The three-time Oscar nominee, famous for roles in West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause, was 43 when she died.

A spokesman for Wood's husband at the time of her death, Robert Wagner, said the family trusted the sheriff's department will take appropriate action but had not been contacted about the case being re-opened.

Wood's drowning sparked tabloid speculation that foul play was involved, but Wagner and Wood's sister have dismissed the rumours.

Wood drowned after a night of partying with husband Wagner and Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken on the couple's yacht anchored off Santa Catalina Island, off California. Her death was ruled an accident and she had been drinking.

It was ruled that Wood was "possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face".

A dinghy that had been attached to the yacht Splendor was found in a Catalina cove.

It has been reported that detectives were prompted to look at the case again after comments by the ship's captain Dennis Davern. He was recently interviewed for a collaboration between Vanity Fair and TV series 48 Hours Mystery that focuses on Wood's death.

"No-one in the Wagner family has heard from the LA County Sheriff's Department, but they fully support the efforts of the 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," Wagner spokesman Alan Nierob said.

Wood and Wagner, star of the TV series Hart To Hart, were married twice, first in 1957 before divorcing six years later. They remarried in 1972.

Lana Wood wrote in a biography on her sister, "What happened is that Natalie drank too much that night".

Wagner wrote in a 2008 autobiography that he blamed himself for his wife's death.


He recounted the night of Wood's disappearance, during which the couple and Walken drank at a restaurant and on the boat.

Wood went to the master cabin during an argument between her husband and Walken. The last time Wagner saw his wife, she was doing her hair in the bathroom and she closed the door behind her.

He wrote: "There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened."

He wrote that he has never returned to Catalina Island.