Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
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Bronx, New York, United States of America
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December 13
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Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact nickleshi@aol.com for more info.

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JANUARY 18, 2013 3:29PM

The Ongoing Natalie Wood Mystery

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Thirty years after the tragic death of beloved actress Natalie Wood at the young age of 43, more questions surrounding the mysterious circumstances of that fateful night continue to emerge. Will we ever know the truth of what really happened? According to the Los Angeles Times, "Wood's death was originally listed as an accident. But earlier this week, the L.A. County coroner's office announced that it had changed the cause of death to 'undetermined.' A coroner's report released Monday cited unexplained fresh bruising on the actress' right forearm, left wrist and right knee, along with a scratch on her neck and a superficial scrape on her forehead." Now actor Robert Wagner is allegedly refusing to answer further questioning about the incident, saying he had already been interviewed three times by investigators when the tragedy happened.

Wagner was married to Wood and was on a boat near California's Santa Catalina Island with her and fellow actor and friend Christopher Walken, who at the time was working on the movie Brainstorm with Wood. The captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, has claimed that he heard a loud argument that evening, according to him between Wagner and Wood.  Wagner has admitted that the actors were all drinking heavily that night, but originally said that the heated argument was only between him and Walken. Years later, in his book Pieces of My Heart, he admitted that he also had an argument that night with his wife, and only discovered her missing from the boat along with the boat's small dinghy.

Here's what we know.  They were drinking a lot of alcohol.  The autopsy results also found that Wood had taken a motion sickness pill and a painkiller that evening.  There was some big argument that night, either between Wagner and Walken or Wagner and Wood (possibly a fight in which all three were involved, but that's not clear). Natalie Wood was later found drowned, with bruises on her body. At some time, the dinghy was detached from the boat.

Did Wood accidentally fall overboard?  Did she try to leave the boat after a fight, but slip into the ocean in an intoxicated state while detaching or re-attaching the dinghy? Was she murdered?

Is the recent re-opening of the case a result of legitimate new questions arising, or the fallout from people trying to take advantage of the 30th anniversary of her untimely passing?

Christopher Walken apparently continues to cooperate with the police. The yacht captain Dennis Davern has made some inconsistent statements about what he saw and heard that night, going so far as to blame Robert Wagner for the death of Woods. Some have accused Davern of trying to capitalize on the incident for his own financial gain.

I've loved Natalie Wood's performances, from her appearance as the child star in Miracle on 34th Street to her later roles in Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, and West Side Story.  I pray that if the mystery of her death is never fully solved, at least her memory will continue to live on. I hope Wagner does cooperate with authorities and that investigators obtain everything they need to put the pieces together on what happened that night. 

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I always thought he killed her!
By the way, I had the privilege of meeting Natalie while she was filming the bomb " Penelope ". It struck me at the time what a tiny person she was. I'm 5'6" and she seemed short to me. I do believe Wagner is a tall man. I may be wrong.
its likely never gonna be solved. its whats called a "cold case" and they are very numerous in criminal records. hollywood gives a mistaken perception of the likelihood of solving crimes. it reminds me of the recent mcafee/belize incident, which I am betting might never be solved either.
I don't think we'll ever know the truth either, but we can hope.