Welcome To My Book Blog

A place to update and discuss facts surrounding the controversial, tragic death of legendary Hollywood film actress, wife and mother, Natalie Wood who drowned mysteriously Nov. 29, 1981 off Catalina Island. Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A reader who gets Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour

There were no hidden motives, no agendas, nothing but an honest account offered when writing Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour, and it is so refreshing and appreciated to hear from readers who aren't looking for ulterior purposes when they read...they are reading the story knowing why it was written. It was written for Natalie. I hope it's not the only justice she will ever receive, but for now, I remain proud of giving her this much.
A reader, Marianne, recently emailed me and I asked if I might post her mail, and she responded:

I remain so haunted and saddened by Natalie's fate that I've had a nervous feeling and a stomachache at times when I think about it all...I've talked about it with my sisters and some friends that I recommended your book to. I have been looking regularly at your blog and the "death forum" that was mentioned in your book. There is this need to learn more and to hear from people who are also touched by Natalie's story and haven't forgotten her.
I just CAN'T get this out of my head! It's there every day, and I hope that more and more people care.


Hello, Marti:

I have felt compelled to write to you after reading GNGS. I received it as an unexpected Christmas gift from my sister, who knows I am a big fan of Natalie. I had NO idea the book was coming out, and I was stunned to get it. Then I was stunned again to realize that I hadn't seen or heard of any reviews, interviews, or references to it at all. WHY is that? It's disturbing to me. I always read book reviews in the Los Angeles Times--why has this story gone untouched?

Please forgive me for this long e-mail. But this book has haunted me in ways that I almost can't even describe, and I needed to contact you. I read it in less than two days, and it has kept me up at nights. It filled me with fascination, admiration, outrage, horror, and an achingly deep sadness that I simply cannot shake.

I've read other books on Natalie, but GNGS gave such a moving personal view of her and who she was--caring, loving, genuine, beautiful inside and out. She really deserved that, and you should be proud of having given it to her.

I was only 13 when Natalie died, and I vividly recall that Sunday morning when I heard the news. I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and I overheard my parents talking about the local news report of it when I was waking up in my bedroom. Even at that age, the circumstances didn't add up, and I NEVER heard an account that made any sense, including the different versions offered by Wagner and Walken. Your account is the only one that makes sense.

It continually struck me at how many points in that weekend was there an opportunity to avert what happened to her, by a number of people involved. Of course, in the first place, they shouldn't have gone on that trip, and the amount of alcohol consumed made me sick just to read about! There are so many "if onlys."

If only Marilyn Wayne and John Payne had had their dinghy inflated to go and get her. Their boats were so close! And what if they had called out to Natalie to acknowledge hearing her cries? Wagner would have then known that someone was listening, and he couldn't get away with what he was about to do--let her die.

If only the other invited guests had made it on the trip, that trip wouldn't have played out like that.
If only Natalie had managed to reach someone on the mainland to pick her up that Saturday...
If only she had been able to realize his wrath and scale back her defiance. Their emotions were so intense.
If only they were moored in Avalon--if he was going to pick a fight with her, he couldn't have gotten away with it in Avalon. Two Harbors is just too secluded.

There are many more, too. I wish Natalie had locked her stateroom doors to keep him out when she went to get ready for bed. They could've slept it off and headed home the next day. Also, I wish Dennis hadn't turned on that music. If he hadn't, he would've heard her in the water. I understand why he did, but he knew that Wagner had become maniacal. I am sure that really haunts him.

I posted on your blog this a.m. about Wagner's demand to her to get off "his" boat. I have been thinking about that myself. Combine that with his claim to Dennis that Natalie was going to get more than what she came for on the trip--WHAT did he mean by that? Was he actually planning something all along?

It seems that Natalie was destined for a huge comeback, and I think that is part of what set off Wagner. In your book and in his own, he really comes off as insecure, especially re: their respective careers. I recall someone in Hollywood speculating years ago that Natalie was going to enjoy a big comeback in the 1980s because that was the decade that many actresses in their 30s, 40s, and 50s did so in film and on t.v.--Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Linda Gray, etc. None of them had a fraction of the talent that Natalie did, so it is easy to think she would've triumphed. And that scared Wagner.

I was also struck, like you, by his bragging about "taking care of" the photographer who took pictures of an ailing David Niven. That comment was completely in line with the threats made to Dennis, Lana, and Marilyn. He made other callous, arrogant comments in his book, and they were extremely off-putting. He's almost admitting to some of the other stuff he's done!

It is telling that he did not mention Natalie in his book dedication. He dedicated it to their three daughters, his mother and sister, and Jill St. John-- to all "the wonderful women who have been the meaning of my life." What, no Natalie?

Then he has a two-page list of acknowledgements at the end (in very small print). He even manages to mention friends of his children (Jason Bateman and his wife, who I know is Courtney's best friend). But he doesn't mention Natalie. And he didn't pursue a supposed snafu by Westwood Cemetery. He said he bought two plots prior to Natalie's death, one for him and one for Natalie. But the cemetery "messed up," and he didn't pursue it--just gave up. Now he will be buried in Aspen with St. John. Guilt, perhaps?

My parents' new home is about 25 miles inland in Los Angeles County, but it is in some hills, and on clearer days, the entirety of Catalina, about 50 miles away, is starkly visible from their house. We spent New Year's Day there, and I sat there continually staring at the Isthmus, thinking, "That is where Natalie died." It haunted me.

Natalie's beauty was heartbreaking, and so was her death. She did not deserve to die that way. I keep imagining her in the water, thinking, "Why is RJ doing this to me?" and being terrified and dumbfounded over the whole scene.

I have been looking at various photos of her on the Internet, particuarly tributes on YouTube. I think she was the most stunning in the mid-70s, right up until her death. She actually grew more beautiful as she got older! Looking at those photos brings me to tears, realizing what was going to happen to her in just a few years and how unfair it was to take her away from us.

Marti, thank you for writing this book and wanting justice for dear Natalie. I don't think another book has ever affected me so! I signed the petition, and I hope others do, too.

I read something on YouTube last night that touched me. A commenter wrote that "Natalie had power over sensitive souls like us." She was terribly wronged, and we were robbed of her.

Thank you for letting me express my feelings and thoughts to you. They have been eating away at me.



  1. What an awesome response to your book! A beautifully written letter full of heart.

  2. Thanks--it IS from my heart, and that is because Marti's book has affected me so profoundly. As I wrote, I had no clue the book was out, and since I read it, I haven't been the same. I will never get this out of my head--I've been heartbroken since reading it and realizing that an actor I had a crush on in "Hart to Hart" helped cause the death of my favorite actress. There will never be anyone else like Natalie Wood. She was so dear.

    I remember when they were publicized as THE Hollywood couple, and it seemed real. I remember seeing them and their kids on t.v. in the Hollywood Christmas parade--that memory is so vivid to me! All those loving interviews and accounts of their marriage--how could it end this way? And he took up with Jill St. John so fast? Oh, such a loving, devoted husband!

    I wish to God that I could turn back the clock and warn Natalie or that just ONE thing could've been different about that weekend to avoid this. It is tormenting me.