With homicide detectives in Los Angeles reopening the investigation into the death 30 years ago of actress Natalie Wood (West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause), The Palm Beach Post‘s Scott Eyman is busier than usual today.
The reporter/book reviewer has been fielding calls in advance to this afternoon’s press conference in Los Angeles that’s expected to cast new doubts about the mysterious death of the then-wife of Austin Powers and TV’s Hart to Hart star Robert Wagner.
A specialist of old Hollywood, Eyman co-wrote with Wagner the actor’s auto-biography, the 2008 tome Pieces of My Heart.
In it, he and Wagner spend a full chapter on the events that led to the 43-year-old Wood’s drowning, when somehow she fell from Wagner’s yacht into the cold waters of the Pacific off L.A.
Eyman declined comment about today development, including a TV interview in which the yacht’s captain, Dennis Davern, admits not telling investigators the truth in the wake of the drowning!
Eyman said he couldn’t discuss Davern’s shocker because he’s writing another book with Wagner, who’s scheduled to talk about his life before a live audience Dec. 13-15 at the Lyric Theatre in Stuart.
But according to Wagner’s own recollections of Nov. 29, 1981, that made the book, the most likely explanation is that Wood tried to tie up a dinghy more tightly because it was knocking against the boat.
Wood, Wagner and their friend, actor Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Catch Me If You Can) had been drinking heavily with dinner, Wagner admits in the book. Wood may have slipped and probably hit her head and lost consciousness.
“I have gone over it so many millions of times with people. Nobody on-board heard anything,” Wagner once told an interviewer. “It’s in the book . . . but she had marks on her. All of those things lead to the belief that she had slipped and rolled into the water, which makes a lot of sense because the boat — when they found it, it hadn’t been started and the oars were all in the same position. There was no evidence that she tried to get in it.”
Davern, the captain now says he hold Wagner responsible for Wood’s death.
“We didn’t take any steps to see if we could locate her,” Davern said.