Thirty-seven years ago today on Nov. 29, 1981, beloved Hollywood film icon Natalie Wood tragically died at the young age of 43 from what was initially determined to be an accidental drowning after she fell overboard off her husband Robert Wagner’s yacht, Splendour. But the acclaimed 12-part podcast Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood — downloadable on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and wherever podcasts are available! — recently looked deeper into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Natalie’s death and uncovered shocking new details about what happened that fateful night. On the anniversary of Natalie’s passing, scroll down to read seven of the biggest revelations we learned from Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood.
1. Cop claimed for the first time that Natalie could have been a “victim of assault” before her death
In the revealing podcast’s first episode, Ralph Hernandez, a homicide detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, claimed that bruises found on Natalie’s body were consistent with her being the “victim of assault.” The original 1981 report filed after Natalie’s death conversely stated that the markings were caused by her struggling to climb back aboard the yacht after falling over the side.
“The bottom line is, we have someone who died under very suspicious circumstances, and it’s just as important of a case as a murder, but our job is to get to the truth and to hopefully come up with enough evidence to prove that truth,” Hernandez revealed to host Dylan Howard, a renowned investigative journalist. “The fact is that we have a lot of information as to the events of what occurred that evening. We have a lot of evidence that tends to point to a very suspicious death and would certainly indicate the possibility of foul play.”
2. Robert’s failure to cooperate with investigators has added to “suspicion”
Following Natalie’s death, her husband, Robert — who was eventually named a “person of interest” in the case in February of this year — continually declined to work with the law enforcement teams investigating the West Side Story star’s mysterious passing. And, in Chapter 1 of the Fatal Voyage podcast, Detective Hernandez revealed Robert’s “changing of the story” and reluctance to provide police with information has allegedly led to “suspicions” that Natalie’s death may have been caused by “the possibility of foul play.”
“The fact is that we have a lot of information as to the events of what occurred that evening. We have a lot of evidence that tends to point to a very suspicious death and would certainly indicate the possibility of foul play,” Hernandez declared. “R.J.’s lack of participation in our reopening [the case], his changing of the story certainly adds to our suspicions about the case. The bottom line is, we have someone who died under very suspicious circumstances, and it’s just as important of a case as a murder, but our job is to get to the truth and to hopefully come up with enough evidence to prove that truth.”
“We’d love to solve this case. We’d love to come to the truth, whatever that truth might be. We would love to at least bring closure to the people that deserve to know the truth,” Hernandez added.
3. Natalie confessed she felt completely “alone” in her unpublished tell-all memoir
In Chapter 2, the journalists behind Fatal Voyage obtained Natalie’s unpublished memoir with passages that had never before been seen or heard by the public. In one passage, the young star apparently admitted she felt “totally alone” in Hollywood. “I was surrounded by people, but I felt totally alone. Outwardly, I kept smiling. Inwardly, I wanted to run from the mechanical make-believe world where people seemed like mannequins going through the motions on smoothly oiled parts, but never fully living,” Natalie wrote in the book.
“When I think my early years, it seems as if I spent most of my time auditioning. I was terribly insulated from the world outside the studio,” Natalie reportedly shared. “The most important thing in my early years was to win the respect and approval of others. It was only later that I learned that it was equally vital for me to develop self-esteem.”
4. Natalie once caught Robert cheating — with another man, sister Lana claimed
Chapter 3 of the podcast included a world exclusive interview with Natalie’s sister, Lana Wood, and during her chat with host Howard, Lana, 72, shockingly alleged that Natalie once caught her husband Robert cheating on her with another man. “She walked in, holding her hand, having some kind of cloth. I don’t know if it was a napkin from a restaurant or what it was, bleeding and absolutely hysterically crying. A mess! A complete mess that I had not seen,” Lana recalled.
“I had never seen her that bad. I was asked to leave the room and that something bad happened and that Natalie was leaving R.J.,” she continued. “It wasn’t until later, because I didn’t put all the clues and the hysterics together. It was actually extremely upsetting to me as a kid to see someone who I thought was, you know, close to not being real.”
“She was so close to being perfect with everything and to see her that distraught and to see things like that was very difficult for me,” Lana said. “So I just kind of… when they said go to your room, I went and tuned it out completely. But it wasn’t until later that she said she caught him with someone. And that someone was another man,” Lana claimed.
5. Robert wanted to kill Natalie’s co-star Warren Beatty
Chapter 3 also revealed that Natalie’s husband, Robert, once wanted to kill the actress’ Splendour in the Grass co-star Warren Beatty. After reportedly hitting a rough patch in his own acting career and seeing his wife’s on-screen chemistry with Warren, Robert followed the actor to his home. “The kissing scenes [in Splendor in the Grass] became more passionate and more realistic and the next thing you knew they were showing up on set and Warren would have his arm around Natalie’s waist and it seemed like something had changed,” Hollywood historian and entertainment journalist Scott Huver claimed in an interview with Fatal Voyage.
“It was really driving him to a very dark place. He was prepared to kill Warren. He didn’t go through with that. He didn’t even confront him. He was parked outside. That shows you just how much he was falling apart because of the relationship was falling apart,” Huver added.
6. Earwitness claimed a woman screamed for help on night of Natalie’s death
In the podcast’s sixth chapter, a woman named Marilyn Wayne — who was an occupant of a boat moored next to the Splendour — spoke out about the anguished sobs she allegedly heard the fateful night Natalie disappeared. “We heard screams from a woman yelling for help. Well, my son had a digital watch, that we had just given him so that’s how we kept the time, minute by minute. And I was up on the deck and heard a woman yelling, ‘Help me, somebody please help me, I’m drowning!’” Wayne told host Howard. “And I would yell down to [my husband] John, who was on the phone to Harbor Patrol, or trying to reach Harbor Patrol, he never did, that what I was hearing. And meanwhile, we would continue to ask my son, ‘What time is it?’ So we had a minute-by-minute history of the time frame and the yelling went on from five after 11 until 11:25 and then it stopped.”
“Three days later on Wednesday,” Wayne allegedly claimed, “I received a note something to the effect of, ‘If you want to stay healthy, keep your mouth shut!’”
7. Natalie’s sister Lana confronted Robert about the star’s death
Fatal Voyage‘s final episode included a bombshell encounter between Robert and Natalie’s sister Lana when the former Bond Girl pleaded with the actor to talk to homicide investigators about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Natalie’s death. “Why won’t you speak to the detectives?” Lana charged. “Clear yourself if you can!” Robert then replied, “Why would you even bring up anything like that? I have talked to everybody… I just can’t believe it.”
In that same episode, Detective Hernandez explained that without Robert’s cooperation, police may never reveal the truth behind Natalie’s disappearance and death. “We have a lot of evidence that tends to point to a very suspicious death and would certainly indicate the possibility of foul play. The problem is, while we can prove the events that led up to the argument at the back of the boat, ultimately, we can’t prove how she ended up in the water,” he said. “Without [Robert’s] interview, without his cooperation, we may never get to that truth.”
Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death Of Natalie Wood is available now on Apple Podcasts.