Thanksgiving, 1981. Natalie Wood spends the weekend on Splendour, the yacht she shared with husband Robert Wagner, docked at Catalina Island. With the couple is Christopher Walken, with whom she was shooting Brainstorm, a sci-fi film which would be her last.
It was an evening of heavy drinking, and at one point a heated argument broke out between the two men. Some time after that, Wood drowned. The official ruling was that it was an accident, with Wood falling into the water trying to secure a dinghy that was banging against the hull. But a witness on a nearby boat recalled hearing a woman's cries for help around midnight that lasted for 15 minutes. "Someone else said, 'Take it easy. We'll be over to get you,'" she said. "It was laid back...There was no urgency or immediacy in their shouts."
Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has announced the case has been reopened:
"Recently sheriff's homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning. Due to the additional information, Sheriff's homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case," the department said in a statement.
Wagner, who said the argument with Walken was about "how much of one's personal life should be sacrificed in pursuit of one's career," has insisted over and over again that no one heard anything that night.
UPDATE: TMZ reports this development comes, in true L.A. fashion, on the heels of a new book on the case. Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour is an account of the fateful evening from the captain of the yacht, Dennis Davern.
They say before Natalie disappeared from the boat, she was drinking and taking Quaaludes with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.
According to the book, Wagner became enraged when he saw Wood and Walken speaking, and smashed a wine bottle, yelling at Walken, "What do you want to do, f**k my wife? Is that what you want?"
At that point, Walken returned to his cabin and Natalie and Robert went to their state room. According to the Captain, he heard a loud argument between the couple and thumping sounds, and eventually silence.
A short time later, the Captain went to the deck and was told by Wagner, "Natalie is missing."
The book claims Wagner refused to let the Captain call the Coast Guard.
Wagner told the Capt. the dinghy was gone, along with Natalie, but some doubted that because she was deathly afraid of dark water.
So, doesn't look too good for Number Two — but then there's the little credibility issue of why it took this captain 30 years to offer this kind-of-important evidence, and that he chose to do it in the form of a true-crime memoir.