Natalie Wood’s two marriages to actor Robert Wagner were publicized and stormy, but they were reconciled at the time of her death. In 1981, at the age of forty-three, Wood drowned while their yacht The Splendor was anchored at Catalina Island. An investigation by the Los Angeles coroner resulted in an official verdict of accidental drowning, although speculation about the circumstances continued.
Wood was on board the yacht with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, with whom Natalie had currently finished filming her last movie with. There were reports Wagner and Walken had a loud argument and Wood apparently tried to either leave the yacht or to secure a dinghy that was banging against the hull when she accidentally slipped and fell overboard. A woman on shore said she heard cries for help from the water that night, along with voices replying “we’re coming.” Wagner, Walken, and the pilot of the Splendor said they heard nothing. The coroner revealed that Wood was legally intoxicated when she died and there were marks and bruises on her body, which could have been received as a result of her fall.
To this day, mystery and speculation continue to surround her death.
At the time of her death Wood was filming Brainstorm and preparing to make her stage debut in a LA production of Anastasia, opposite Dame Wendy Hiller.