Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Star of the Month-July


BORN- July 20. 1938

DIED- November 29, 1981

AGED-43 years old

DIED FROM- I'm saying it-Murdered

REAL NAME-Natasha Zacharenko-Russian/Ukrainian Parents

MARRIED-3 times, twice to Robert Wagner

CHILDREN- 2 girls. The Oldest has been dealing with mental health issues and addictions

FAMOUS SIBLING- Lana Wood- actress known best as Plenty O' Toole from James Bond film. 

AFFAIRS- Numerous-Warren Beatty, Michael Caine, Elvis, Jerry Brown, David Niven Jnr. etc..


KNOWN FOR- Speaking  fluent Russian and knowing her lines almost right away. Her phobic fear of water.

NICKNAME- One Take Natalie 

I still remember when I heard the news of her death and all the reports that more than one person heard her screams for help in the middle of the night. I wondered why no one took a boat out to see what was going on but I don't know their reasons. I do recall one elderly lady saying she called the police because she could hear the woman's cries for help, but nothing was done. I also found it somewhat strange that Stephanie Power's boyfriend (estranged by then), the famous star William Holden, was found dead on Nov. 12th, after hitting his head on a dresser while drunk and bleeding to death. Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers were playing husband and wife in the hit TV Show, Hart to Hart. I always wondered if they were somehow an item but I did read a lot of Agatha Christie back then. I always thought it weird that the 2 stars from a hit TV series lost their spouses almost within a week of one another and no one ever mentioned the strangeness of it. 

Natalie was a successful child actress who made a success as an adult as well. She transitioned through all the stages: child, teen and adult. Her mom was the epitome of a stage mom even tearing up a live butterfly in front of her daughter so her daughter would cry. 

Natalie had almost died in water when filming plus, freakily, she was told by a soothsayer,  that she would die by drowning. When she was 15, she was told by a famous actor that he could further help her career and to meet him at a hotel. Yup, apparently, she was viciously raped but never talked about it. Her sister, Lana Wood, has recently stated that it was Kirk Douglas but I don't know if there is any more evidence to confirm this so we must tread lightly on this story.

She married Robery Wagner the first time, when she was just 19. When she was in a film with Warren Beatty, they started having an affair and Robert Wagner became so angry and jealous that he got a gun and was following them. Needless to say, the marriage split and Natalie ended up marrying again. During the 60s, after her 3rd suicide attempt, she decided to get help..thankfully. she divorced but remarried Robert Wagner, this time, she seemed happy and was in a semi retirement although she was on TV including Hart To Hart and the miniseries, From Hell To Eternity. 

She was making a "comeback" film called " Brainstorm" co-starring Christopher Walken. The rumour was that those 2 were having an affair but..who knows. One fateful weekend, Wagner and Wood invited Walken on their yacht and the 3 proceeded to start drinking. They went to some restaurant, drank some more, where others noticed how angry Wagner was. The 3 came back to the yacht, drinking more when there was a heated argument because Wagner was jealous of Walken and Wood. Walken went to bed and probably passed out. Wagner and Wood argued some more. The next morning, the police were called and they found Wood's body in the water. Wagner has changed his story more than once and the Captain, running the yacht, wrote a book ( of course), many years later that he was told by Wagner that she fell overboard but to not turn on the searchlights nor call the police. 

I believe Wagner is guilty, not premeditated, but his anger got the better of him. There were many bruises all over her body plus, her sister said it was tough enough for her to be on a yacht, she would never get in a dinghy, no matter how drunk she was. I believe that, but Wagner will never be brought up on charges. Just recently, he was, again, not being charged  but was a person of interest. 

Natalie had so much going for her but her life was not easy and her death is now infamous. I prefer to think of her as that little girl pulling Edmund Gwenn's beard or that beautiful woman on the big screen.


As a Child:

The Ghost & Mrs. Muir-1947

Miracle on 34th Street-1947

The Green Promise-1949- note: She was to cross a bridge that was to break after she crossed the it, but  it broke while she was crossing it. Naturally, the director kept filming while she was being swept under the water and was hurt. She suffered an injury to her left wrist which never properly healed so she always wore a bracelet to hide it. This is the reason she had a life-long fear of water.

As a Teen...

Rebel Without A Cause-1955

The Searchers-1956

Marjorie Morningstar-1958

As an Adult...

Splendor in The Grass-1961

West Side Story-1961

Gypsy- 1962

Love With The Proper Stranger- 1963

Sex & The Single Girl- 1964

The Great Race- 1965

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice- 1969

Brainstorm- 1983


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    I'm late this morning because I awoke to another annoying internet outage. They are becoming commonplace down here. Service was restored just a short time ago.

    Thanks for shining the spotlight on Natalie Wood. I first saw Natalie on the small screen in a holiday broadcast of Miracle on 34th Street. In my youth, I watched her in Rebel Without A Cause followed by Splendor In The Grass, Love With The Proper Stranger, Sex And The Single Girl, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and The Candidate. I know her sister Lana from Diamonds Are Forever and for her "pictorial essays" (nudie pix) in Playboy Magazine. I read with interest Lana's recent statements regarding her sister's mysterious death.

    I vividly remember the day that dreadful event hit the news. On Sunday, November 29, 1981, I was working as a TV news producer. When the bulletin crossed the wires, I decided to create a showender video for the 6pm newscast showing a series of film clips and photos of Natalie over a music bed. Thanks for filling in many of the details surrounding her death, as well as the rumors, theories and your own gut feeling about what happened. If Wagner had chronic anger issues and flew into jealous rages, it would explain a lot. Thank you also for explaining why Natalie always wore a bracelet on her left wrist and had an extreme fear of the water after being injured and nearly drowning in the making of The Green Promise. Thank you also for sharing the unsavory tale about her alleged rape by Kirk Douglas. As you well know, powerful men in Hollywood routinely put the good old casting couch to use.

    Thanks again for remembering Natalie Wood, a fine child actress who made a successful transition to adult roles and surely had many more great performances to give when her life was cut short under suspicious circumstances.

    Have a wonderful week, dear friend BB!

    1. It’s hearsay regarding Kirk Douglas so one has to tread carefully there. All that is known is that she was assaulted but never talked about it, she used to love Kirk Douglas but, when she had the ability to work with him she refused and wanted no dealings with him. I don’t know....I have not heard of other women blaming Kirk Douglas. He was known to dip his stick into many women but they were all willing. I believe that Wagner May have pushed her and she lost her footing and fell over. When people drink heavily, so much can happen, if he came forward from the start, I bet he would have been charged with something but may not have even served. His career would have been over though as well as his image.

  2. I always enjoyed her movies. I guess we will never know what really happened.

    1. No, we won’t...it will be like the grassy knoll. The best is to enjoy her movies.

  3. Her death was so suspicious. It was weird watching Brainstorm knowing she was gone.

    1. It is very suspicious and, you are right, watching that movie felt eerie.

  4. Great choice for Star of the Month!

    LOVE Natalie!! She could be inconsistent at times but if she connected to the character there were few better than she. As fond as I am of Sophia Loren and as good as her performance was in Two Women Natalie should have won Best Actress in 1961 for Splendor in the Grass.

    She is one of the stars whose filmography I've managed to complete, most of it readily available but I had the very devil of a time finding The Last Married Couple in America (not great but not terrible-very much of its time) and No Sad Songs for Me (which was also the last Margaret Sullavan movie I had to find to finish off her body of work, it was also her final film. That one was heavy melodrama but worth it for the cast and performances. But I did finally manage to track them down.

    My top 10 of her films:

    Splendor in the Grass
    Love With the Proper Stranger
    The Great Race
    Miracle on 34th Street
    The Cracker Factory (this was one of her final TV films.)
    Marjorie Morningstar
    West Side Story
    Rebel Without a Cause
    Tomorrow is Forever

    1. I knew you would avoid her suspicious death because you are giving honour to her body of work and that is nice even though I’d love to know your take but I so respect that you have not touched on it. You are so lucky to have finished her filmography. How do you find all these films? You have watched hers and Linda Darnell’s; I’m in awe. I just watched Marjorie Morningstar the other evening and have not seen it in years. Why do I feel that Gene Kelly suits that slimy role?? :). I think he wasn’t a mr. Nice guy and could be very exacting. I wonder what he thought when kissing her knowing he may have seen her around when she was a little girl. I still have to see Spendour and Love is plus your last one and the The Cracker Factory. I really liked her in Gypsy and in West Side Story.

  5. I loved Natalie Wood and was saddened at her death. I hate to admit that I also really liked Robert Wagner and abhorred the idea that he could have murdered her and gone merrily about his life. I can't watch him anymore.

    1. It’s hard to see him in Hart to Hart and, if he was not famous, he would have been arrested since he was inconsistent in his stories. I also condemn the capt. Who knew what happened and decided to listen to Robert Wagner and not search for Wood. I feel bad that her biggest fear came true which must have been beyond frightening. I love to remember her great movie roles and her beauty.

  6. Did you see the doc about her? After seeing that, I wonder if her death wasn't just a tragic accident. Who knows? I remember when it happened, but I was a child, so I didn't really *get* what the big deal was then.

    1. No, I have not seen that documentary but will look for it. I just want to look at the facts and Wagner was inconsistent with his story and, if he was anyone else non-famous, he would have been arrested and charged.

    2. Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. It looks like it was on HBO Max and Hulu (with a premium subscription). I saw it on HBO, I'm pretty sure. 2020 doc. They talked to Robert Wagner at length.

  7. A familiar story but, I’m guessing one that will ever never be resolved.

  8. I saw a documentary about Natalie Wood that is also about Natasha Gregson Wagner trying to understand her mother and what happened. I don't think Robert Wagner did anything. I think what happened was that he and Natalie had an argument and she took a small boat and then freaked over black water and died.

    Plus, I don't believe a fucking word her sister said. Especially as Natasha and her sisters admit to never having a relationship with Lana because Lana never gave a shit about them and only cared about seeing Natalie. Probably because of money.

    1. Lana does not seem credible from some interviews I have seen. I don’t take her to heart. I have not seen this documentary but I want to. I just believe that there is more to the story. When drink is involved and arguments happen, given that they could get into each other’s face.mi could see him push her hard and she lost her footing and fell into the water. He may have, in his anger, decided not to do anything because he was not thinking with a sober mind.

  9. I loved Natalie Wood and agree that her death was suspicious. We'll never know the truth, though Robert Wagner likely played a part in some way.

    1. Like the grassy knoll, we will never truly know but there is more to that story.shame on the Capt for not doing something as he knew more too.