Actress Natalie Wood’s daughter explained how her mother’s mysterious death from drowning left her with emotional scars that formed the emotional relationships she formed in adulthood.
Natasha Gregson Wagner, 49, was just 11 years old when Wood, the Oscar-nominated star of West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause, was found floating off the coast of Catalina Island in the Pacific in November 1982.
Wood had been on a boat trip with her husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken over the weekend in what remains one of Hollywood’s most enduring mysteries, nearly 40 years later.
This year, Natasha first spoke about her mother’s life and death in a memoir, More Than Love, An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood, in which she vigorously defends Wagner, her beloved stepfather, against persistent allegations of foul play and involvement in Wood’s death.
Speaking of the book Irish Independent, Natasha related how her mother’s death led her to seek out men who were “maternal” in her early relationships.
Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of actress Natalie Wood, explained how her mother’s mysterious death from drowning left her with emotional scars that formed the emotional relationships she formed in adulthood. Pictured, Natasha as a child (center) with her mother, stepfather and sisters Katie Wagner (left) and Courtney Wagner (right)
Natasha told the Irish Independent about the book and told how her mother’s death led her to seek out men who were “maternal” in her early relationships. Pictured, Natasha with then-boyfriend Josh Evans in 1991 (left) and with daughter Clover at an event in 2016
This year, Natasha first spoke about her mother’s life and death in a memoir, More Than Love, An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood, in which she vigorously defends Wagner, her beloved stepfather, against persistent allegations of foul play and involvement in Wood’s death. Pictured, Wagner and Wood circa 1970
“I think I was always looking for a mother in my adult life,” she said. “Often I chose very maternal men who would give birth to me, but it would get confusing because after some time I would like to grow up in the relationship, as it were.
“By the time that happened, the dynamics would have been established where I was the child and they were the parent and it would cause a lot of trouble and trouble.”
Natalie, who had her own acting career, dated most of the 1990s with Josh Evans, son of Ali McGraw and Hollywood producer Robert Evans, and was married to High Fidelity screenwriter DV DeVincentis, before meeting husband Barry Watson, with who she shares daughter Clover, now eight.
Natalie, whose biological father is late British agent and film producer Richard Gregson, explained that she decided it was the right time to write the book because she was ‘ready’ to share her grief and didn’t feel the need to “protect” as she had years earlier.
The mother of one also did not want the mysterious death to become a ‘burden’ for Clover, Wood’s only grandchild.
This year Wagner and Natasha also appeared side by side in HBO documentary Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind, on which Natasha served as a producer.
Robert Wagner’s boat Splendor docked on Catalina Island the day after Natalie Wood drowned on Catalina Island on November 29, 1981
At the time of Wood’s death, Wagner, affectionately known as RJ, was the subject of false accusations that he had beaten her, punched her in the water, and drowned her heartlessly – although the coroner closed the case surrounding Natalie’s death. without evidence of foul play.
In 2009, Dennis Davern, a former sailor who was the only other person on board with RJ, Walken and Natalie at the time of the actress’ death, wrote a book speculating that Wagner had thrown Wood overboard. He claimed that Wagner became furious after seeing Walken flirting with his wife.
Natasha opened for the first time since her mother’s death in 1981 in her new book More Than Love, An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood
The case was reopened two years later, and the following year Wood’s death cause was officially changed from “accidental drowning” to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
In 2013, the Los Angeles County coroner updated Wood’s autopsy report to state that Wood, who was found with bruises on her body, may have been injured before entering the water, but this could not be determined.
Two years ago, Wagner, now 90, was declared a ‘person of interest’ and has remained so to this day.
Natalie writes in defense of her stepfather, whom she calls Daddy Wagner, saying, “For years, his life” had been marred by made-up scandals and accusations. My mom no longer has her own voice, but I do and this is what I know – RJ loved Natalie “more than love”. ‘
She continues, “We can never know for sure how my mother got into the water.
“I focus on the things I do know – my father would never have hurt my mother or saved her if he knew she was in danger,” writes Natasha, who was only 11 when her mother died.
Natasha Gregson Wagner, was just 11 years old when Wood, the Oscar-nominated star of West Side Story (pictured) and Rebel Without A Cause, was found dead in mysterious circumstances
Wood with daughter Natasha in September 1971. Natasha shared how her mother’s death was her partner’s choice of adulthood
And I focus on my love for my mom, my dad, my family, ”Natasha writes, the first time she publicly expressed her feelings.
“My mother was not a tragic, doomed person. Her life was dominated by her art, her children, her husband and her heart.
“This is how she would like to be remembered, not as someone defined by her death, but by her life.”
Natasha stays close to Wagner and defends him in her memoir about her mother’s death. Pictured, Natasha (left) with Wagner and sister Courtney in 1985