Natalie Wood was an iconic American actress with a storied career spanning from 1943 to 1981, starring in films such as West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause.

She was met with an unfortunate demise in 1981 when she drowned while with her husband, Robert Wagner, on his yacht on a weekend boat trip to Catalina Island.

Her death was ruled an accident, but many people believe that something more sinister took place. 

Conspiracies of foul play began with a series of conflicting witness statements that make it seem like Wood was killed deliberately by her husband or the other passengers on his yacht.

There is even an investigation going on to this day that names Wagner as a person of interest.

Keep reading on to learn ten bizarre conspiracies and facts about the mysterious death of Natalie Wood!

10 Wood Was Heavily Intoxicated

The story of Wood’s death began as many accidents do — with alcohol. Wood and her friends aboard the yacht stopped for a late-evening dinner complete with champagne on Catalina Island.

When leaving the restaurant, the restaurant owner said that he didn’t feel comfortable allowing the group to go, fearing that they might not safely make it back to their boat.

Nonetheless, the group drunkenly returned to their boat shortly before Wood’s subsequent death and disappearance.

MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo

9 She Went Missing Late At Night

None of the other passengers noticed Wood had disappeared until after 11:00 pm, more than half an hour after returning together from the restaurant.

Her husband Robert was the first to discover that she went missing and quickly found that she was no longer on the yacht. The group began to search for her and called the coast guard at 3:30 am. 

The timeline of the events creates a lot of room for conspiracies. For example, why did they wait four hours to call the Coast Guard?



8 Witnesses Heard Screams For Help

On the night of Wood’s death, two witnesses reported that they heard a woman screaming for help in the water.

This could mean that Wood was screaming for help after voluntarily taking the yacht’s dingy onto the water, or it could tell that the witnesses heard her screaming at the time of her potential assault.

7 Coroners Found Medication In Her System

In the initial toxicology report on Wood, doctors found that Wood had a BAC level of 0.14 at the time of her death. She had also taken painkillers that increase the effect of alcohol and make her more susceptible to bruising.

The presence of these medications could explain why Wood had so many injuries when the police found her, but it could also suggest that something more sinister had happened.

Is it possible that Wood took the pills, not knowing that they would make her more susceptible to the effects of alcohol? Or, did she take the pills knowingly, meaning that her death really could have been just an accident?

Allstar Picture Library Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

6 Recent Reports Contradict The Initial Story

In recent years, evidence has come to light that contradicts the initial timeline of events. The ship’s captain, Dennis Davern, has been releasing his version of the events leading up to her death.

He told the media that Wood and Wagner were arguing and that Wagner stopped him from using the ship’s searchlights to find Wood.

Davern’s story seems to point to Wagner as the cause of Wood’s death. However, with Wagner unwilling to shift from his version of the story, her death’s actual cause may never be known.

5 Coroners Omitted Details From Their Report

One of the most mysterious details in the entire case of Wood’s death is that coroners left out details of her injuries from their initial report.

The coroners decided to leave significant bruising and scratching entirely unexplained, casting further doubt on the death being a simple accident.

Wood’s injuries suggest that she possibly was assaulted before entering the water, lending credibility to the theory that she was thrown overboard.

4 Her Death Certificate Was Changed

In 2012, another coroner changed Wood’s death certificate to acknowledge that foul play could have been a factor. Her death, previously cited as an “accidental drowning,” is now ruled as a “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

Her death is still ruled primarily as an accident, but this change reflects that the conspiracy theories could be credible.

There is a significant enough amount of doubt for coroners and investigators alike to believe that she could have been murdered.

AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

3 A Report Found She Could Have Been Thrown Overboard

In a very recent report from 2020, it was revealed that the bruises on Wood’s body are consistent with the bruising of someone thrown from a yacht into the water.

The report concludes that she did not fall from the dingy or trip over the edge of the ship — she was deliberately thrown by her husband or another guest on the yacht.

This idea comes from a former intern of the first coroner to examine Wood. This intern said that he told the coroner about Wood’s injuries, who acted as though he participated in a cover-up.

2 The Yacht Was Dismantled In January 2020

The yacht where Wood’s mysterious death took place, the Splendour, was dismantled earlier this year after JS International Inc. removed it from the water on January 27, 2020.

The company salvaged anything they could before taking it apart. The yacht may no longer exist, but the desire to uncover the truth about Natalie Wood’s death burns on.

There are still active investigations attempting to determine whether her death was just an unfortunate accident or if something more nefarious took place.

Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

1 Wood Didn't Even Like Water

One final detail that contradicts the theory that Wood took the dingy out into the water herself is that she didn’t even like water! Wood’s sister told investigators that Wood couldn’t swim and that she was terrified of the water. 

She thought it was unlikely that she would take the dingy out independently, especially after heavily drinking alcohol.

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