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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Petition to Re-Open Natalie Wood Case - Comment #287


I just looked at the petition to reopen the Natalie Wood case and read the comment by signer #287. I would like to address this comment.
Anonymous said in comment #287:
I just finished reading the book by Marti Rulli and am appalled at the way the investigation into her death was handled. I will never watch anything Robert Wagner is in EVER! He is cold, calculating & self-serving. However, I am troubled why Dennis Davern as the captain, did not INSIST on the searchlight, calling coastguard etc. inspite of RJ's orders. He had to know it was the right thing to do. She was missing!! The hell with what RJ dictated.

This is a valid point and one I've always agreed with. When Dennis Davern finally told me what really happened that night, the first thing I said to him was, "Why on earth didn't you do something--anything--anyway?"  Dennis just shook his head. And he explained in a way that I understood.

I want to explain something here about Dennis and his relationship with the Wagner family. It might help to answer why Dennis did as Wagner asked the night Natalie died.

After Robert Wagner sent Dennis off to look for Natalie on the boat, Dennis was totally confused. He knew that RJ and Natalie had just been arguing, but the dire situation that Natalie was actually experiencing was the LAST thing Dennis considered. In fact, he didn't consider it AT ALL until word came that Natalie's body was discovered. Only at that moment did Dennis comprehend the reality of this living nightmare.

He drank with RJ while Natalie had been missing because he believed it was RJ's way of wanting to pass time until Natalie would return. Dennis believed, against everything that made sense, that Natalie had taken the dinghy.  RJ had him convinced that Natalie would pull up or that the phone would soon ring. Every time Dennis asked to put on the searchlight RJ flatly refused. RJ insisted that they couldn't and WOULDN'T draw attention to the situation. He mentioned his "image" over and over. RJ was Dennis's boss, a high-profile boss. During these crucial hours, Dennis suggested several times to turn on the lights, start up the engine and move the Splendour to look for Natalie, and to make a call.  RJ became more adamant that that's what they "would NOT do" -- Those were RJ's words, "No, we're NOT going to do that," and he said those words in a clear "boss tone" and Dennis figured he had no right to override RJ and was afraid if he did, not only would he be fired but that he would cause a lot of unnecessary attention to RJ's and Natalie's very private celebrity life.

Dennis had turned the music on while they had fought on the back deck to protect them. There is NO OTHER REASON Dennis would play loud music on the bridge at 11 PM at night. He CARED for them. RJ knew that and took advantage of it. Dennis didn't want to be blamed for what might turn into a media frenzy because he hadn't obeyed RJ.  While Natalie was missing, the LAST THING on Dennis's mind was that RJ would allow any harm to come to Natalie. He thought RJ knew more about her whereabouts than he was letting on, and Dennis believed RJ's refusal to call for help meant that he knew Natalie was okay. What else could it mean?

These were his employers he had come to know and love. Nothing was right about this night, but at the time, Dennis had no clue how horrid a night it truly was. In hindsight, it's that exact faith Dennis put into his boss that casued Dennis to later be so guiltridden. He felt terrible that he hadn't put his faith into Natalie instead: that she would NEVER have taken that dinghy. He knew that, but he also thought he "knew" RJ.

While they waited for Natalie (which is what Dennis really thought they were doing), RJ talked about the shatterred glass all over the main salon from the bottle he had smashed in anger. RJ told Dennis what to say and what not to say about the bottle smashing, and that's when Dennis started to get suspicious, and that's when RJ finally made the feeble radio call to the island workers, saying "someone is missing from our boat." RJ made sure that call was sent only over a frequency that the island people and nearby boaters could pick up on. He was NOT willing to call the Coast Guard. After the call was made, RJ started crying, "She's gone, she's gone." All of this confused Dennis even more, but at least a call had been made. This was over two hours after Natalie was "missing" ... the call to the Coast Guard was not made until after another two hours. It was placed by the Harbormaster (who had also waited for "Mr. Wagner's" permission to make the call!).

By the time Dennis was questioned by Detective Rasure in the morning, Dennis was so nervous and feeling so guilty, he didn't know what to do or say. He was hungover, he was scared, he was sleepless for over 24 hours, he was in shock--overwhelming SHOCK! He had been ordered to speak only through an attorney, but answered a few questions for Rasure, immediately withdrew his words, and then said he would say no more until he talked with RJ or an attorney.
Dennis was 33 years old that long ago weekend, but Dennis was a "young" 33 year-old. He was a cavalier guy who was caught up in a living nightmare. He didn't handle it well, but he was only a bystander, as that's what RJ reduced him to. Dennis had known the right thing to do, but RJ had become Mr. Wagner, the boss who refused to let him do it.

After getting to RJ's home and being taken under RJ's wing immediately (which lasted for over a year) Dennis just stayed quiet. He NEVER spoke of the weekend Natalie died. But he covered his anguish with liquor. He realized his own stupidity and that's where the guilt stemmed from. He had allowed RJ to reduce him to puppet. He failed Natalie. In his wildest dreams, until he heard that she was actually gone, did he believe what really happened could ever have happened. He went into denial. He suffered post-traumatic stress. You would think this is what RJ would have experienced long-term, but ironically, it was Dennis who carried the burden of Natalie's death and he had done nothing wrong that weekend. He was the one--the ONLY one--who kept trying to end the weekend.

Dennis's comprehension of Natalie's death didn't come the night she died or the day after. It came in bouts of guilt and stress, in nightmares, in reliving the ordeal, and in rehashing what he should have done but did not do. Natalie's death was killing him--literally. His need to tell his story grew every time he relived every morsel of that weekend, while realizing what a fool he had been on top of it all. But what would his words accomplish? Natalie could never be returned. That was Lana Wood's way of handling this great loss, too. Both of them were immobilized by Natalie's death. And RJ saw this, and he took advantage of it. Slowly and surely, an image was molded for these two people who truly mourned losing Natalie. These were two people who could easily be portrayed as opportunists, two people RJ obviously didn't want in his life.

No, it is not Dennis who was capable of burying the truth with Natalie. He tried to, for all the wrong reasons, but it was at the expense of his own quality of life.

I saw firsthand how Dennis almost destroyed himself over Natalie's death. There is not one close friend or family member among us who know Dennis who ever thought he would survive Natalie's death. It took over two years before Dennis started to realize his own hell he wallowed in. Before Dennis had ever said one word to me about Natalie's death, I never doubted that something peculiar had transpired the night Natalie Wood died. When Dennis finally said the words to me--and I did NOT coerce those words, I knew it would be one of the hardest, most unbelievable stories to ever be able to tell.  I was right, but there certainly is no comfort in that.

Please sign the petition for Natalie.

No comments:

Post a Comment