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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hypothetically Speaking

Although I strive to deal with facts at this blog, I'd like feedback on this hypothetical scenario:

Natalie is drifting and it's 4:15 in the morning and she feels she can no longer hang on to hopes of survival, but she hears a motor boat closing in on her, and then a light shines in her face. She knows she "reached" the water at about 11 PM and she knows HOW she reached the water, but she has no real idea of what time it is now, but she is feeling the elation of rescue, she will see her daughters this Sunday! The motor boat approaches her and pulls her onto their deck to safety. She is immediately taken to the cabin to be warmed as she is crying tears of relief. She sees on a radio clock that it is after 4 AM and realizes she had been in the water she feared her entire life for approximately 5 hours. She shudders, but is beyond grateful to be safe. She is told that no one looked for her until after a call came over the general island frequency at 1:30 AM mentioning that someone was missing from her boat. She's told that at approximately 3:30 AM, a call finally went out to the Coast Guard after the harbormaster encouraged her husband to make the call.

Hypothetically, knowing what we know, how do you think a rescue would have affected Natalie's choices for the rest of her life? This is not a poll...it is an inquiry to try to understand things from what might have been Natalie's possible reaction and perspective to what transpired while she was IN the water.

She struggled to stay alive that night, there's evidence of it. She did not want to perish. She called for help, she took advantage of her down jacket, she tried to survive. Anger must have enhanced her fear and vice versa for the hours she remained coherent.
I doubt she would've revealed details to the public, but privately, I believe she would have made intense life choices based on her experience. I also believe she might have understood Dennis's position, but that she would have fired him, and rightfully so. This hypothetical situation has actually helped ME to realize why some people can't get past Dennis's deference to Wagner. It may have been just as difficult for Natalie to believe that Dennis listened to his boss only because he thought she had to be in the dinghy, that he did not realize how grave the situation was. If Wagner didn't feel it necessary to make a call, Dennis hoped for the best. Maybe that's what bothers Dennis so deeply to this day, knowing Natalie probably never would have understood his postiion.
Yes, if Natalie had been saved, it still might have been Splendour's final social cruise.

It's hypothetical but an interesting perspective. Natalie would not have tolerated what happened to her, so why should anyone allow her death to go unjustified, knowing what we know? Why does the law tolerate it?
And, don't forget: in REALITY, Natalie probably did realize all of the above. The only difference in reality is that there was no motor boat or light shining in her face for a rescue. We never got to hear her voice in this tragedy. She floated for hours, frightened, confused, desperate, and utterly alone.

Hypothetically speaking, could she--would she-- have ever forgiven the three men aboard the Splendour who did not help her?


  1. Wow, that's such a perplexing scenario to consider. I suspect that Wagner was haunted by that very set of thoughts. It explains why he took such great pains to insure that there would be no motor boats, no lights and no salvation for Natalie. I can't surmise what might have been but Wagner understood the ramifications of it all too well and did everything a person could do to end any and all speculation of what the outcome could have been.

  2. This is something that makes me feel so strongly that the long wait to call the Coast Guard was done to ensure that she would never be found alive. Wagner knew all of safety procedures and followed not one of them. He would not allow Dennis to do the first thing anyone would do, instinctively, under such circumstance. That would be turning on the lights. Wagner said no. I wonder how he would have explained that to her, had she survived. Would he tell her that he thought she went for a ride in the dinghy in her nightgown or that he thought she re-tied the lines in the pitch black of the night? She knew that she had never done such things in her life because of her fear of deep, dark water and she knew that HE KNEW that she would never have done such things. How would he have explained to her why he waited and waited and waited?

  3. I thought I couldn't be more depressed about this case, but your scenario of what could have happened really did me in. Natalie was a survivor who had worked very hard on herself to get to a healthy place. That part of her would never have forgiven the betrayal that went on that night. Nor would I. Dennis would have been fired, Walken exiled from her friend circle and Wagner certainly divorced. She wouldn't have told the press, but their social circle would have known and Wagner's exile would have been complete.

  4. Natalie was a strong woman. She had to be. None of us can even imagine the terror she must have experienced. Not to mention the pain of realizing what Wagner was capable of. A man who "loved" her so much that he would let her die rather than blemish his image and social standing. Even Mother Teresa would have had a go at him.

  5. If Natalie had been found, she would've realized that her husband had tried to kill her. You have only one thing wrong in your post, Marti. Natalie DOES have a voice. YOU gave it to her.

  6. Personally, I'd rather die than to be faced with the knowledge my husband tried but failed to kill me. How could anyone ever pick up the pieces after that? What do you tell people? What do you tell your kids? What do you tell your rescuers? The trauma of something like would induce a depression so deep that recovery would seem insurmountable.

    Coming out of something like that and being able to re-assemble anything like a normal life just doesn't even seem possible to me.

    It nauseated me to ponder this question. I don't feel good anymore today.

  7. I had the same feeling. It's painful to think about the what if of this scenario. There was so much time to rescue her. It only brings more sadness that it didn't happen. One of the things I just can't shake, is the fact of her pliable fingers when she was found. The thought that she died so close to the rescuers finding her, makes me cry. Imagine if it happened just one minute before they got there. It's too painful to contemplate yet to disturbing for my mind to let go.

  8. Natalie was a survivor, and she didn't air her dirty laundry. I believe she would have divorced Wagner, but she would never let it be known what he did to her that night. Pardon the pun, but it must have killed her knowing Wagner was killing her.
    I think it would have taken her a long time to come to terms with Dennis' inaction that night.

  9. This was very difficult for me to think about, too, as I not only considered this scenario from Natalie's POV, but also from Dennis's. I had never really thought about how close Natalie came to being rescued until I spoke with Roger Smith last November. I always believed she lived longer than anyone else had quessed (even Dennis) because of everything I delved into about the case, but to have Roger's account verify my beliefs brought a reality to it I hadn't experienced before.

    I drafted the post a few nights ago but saved it instead of publishing it because it was so disturbing to think about. I thought long and hard about it, and decided to post it because I felt too alone with it.

    I agree with you, Kevin: I don't think Natalie would've forgiven Dennis, and that made me think about many things. I even took the scenario as far as still receiving a call from Dennis even if Natalie had lived and never spoke of the terrible ordeal. Would Dennis still have needed to release his pent-up emotions over the ordeal of the night? Would I still have dedicated myself to writing a book about it? Would it still have been something the public deserved to know, even if Natalie wouldn't have wanted it public knowledge? I have no idea how I would've felt or reacted, and that carries over to asking myself if it still was the right thing even though she did not survive that night. I still keep coming up with the answer YES because I strongly believe that no one has the right to harm another person without paying a lawful price.

    This entire scenario saddens me even more for Dennis because this must eat away at him. I know he didn't want the kind of night that transpired that long ago night. I know with no doubt that he never wanted any harm to come to Natalie. And I know that, given his type personality, he didn't know how far to go and that his confusion factored highly into the results of the fateful night. But, now I think I have a better understanding of his remorse and guilt factor.
    Yet, sad as it is, I believe there is still only one person to blame. So many lives were irreversably affected because of one person's selfishness and choices that night, and a mother of two never came home. I don't feel good about this post subject, either, but it is a part of this story that I needed to reconcile with. We'll move on.

    The petition has over 500 signatures now, and one of the recent signers is a retired federal agent. I'm confident we'll succeed with the LA County Sheriff's Department! The petition is important but will accompany a broader effort, too.

  10. Please don't think anyone is criticizing the post. Everyone has such a strong emotional stake in this story, the post just became a catalyst for those feelings. Yes, you absolutely made the right decision by going forward with this case. Natalie carried herself with dignity in this life and she deserved to be remembered that way in death. Not the sloppy drunk story. Natalie was kind and cared about her friends and family. Do you really think she would have been at peace with the wreckage Wagner left behind? Her daughters, Dennis, Roger, Marilyn and you have had your lives altered because of this case. The truth would have been painful, but I believe years of therapy would have given her the courage to speak out no matter how private she was. Healing starts with the truth and you and Dennis have provided that.

  11. Natalie protected Wagner, publicly, in the first divorce, she took the rap and let him appear to be the poor victim going off to Europe to sooth his wounds. I don't know if she would do that a second time.

  12. Don't think so. Sexual indecretion and attempted murder are very different. She would have had to speak out. We all think she would have divorced him. What about child custody? Would she really have let him have unsupervised visits with their children? Natalie was very protective, she would have had to speak up to a judge to keep the kids safe from someone so unstable and dangerous.

  13. Natalie had worked so hard with therapy for so many years, and she was never embarrassed about trusting in professionals to her find the inner strength and true contentment that was so important to her. She trusted her doctors to help her reconcile with her past as she never wanted her sense of reality to become distorted.

    She had married the same man twice and felt she had a lot to live up to. Natalie was a lot of "old Hollywood" with the courage to embrace "new Hollywood" and although I have no doubt having survived her ordeal would've affected her terribly, I wonder if she ever would have talked about it publicly, possibly for the same reason so many of us kept quiet for so long: to spare her daughters.

    After recovering, she may have downplayed the incident, maybe even would've distorted it to enable herself to live more comfortably with it, but we'll never know, and I'm glad I brought this up because it was something I wanted to think through. I have no regrets in wanting the truth known.

    Last night, I watched an episode of "I shouldn't Be Alive" which is Dsicovery's Animal Planet series on cable TV. Last night's story dealt with a man who was stranded in the Pacific Ocean (near Costa Rica). It's an amazing reenactment of an ocean survival story, with so many elements resembling Natalie's ordeal. (He survived a small plane crash into the ocean.) He survived for over 24 hours wearing only a pair of shorts in water that became as cold as 45 degrees at night. I learned a lot from this particular show. He had nothing to help him float so tried to relax in the water. Natalie had her down coat. This man was stung by jellyfish in the water that caused welts, but none of Natalie's bruises resembled his type stings. Finally, what helped to save the man was a float away log that came his way that he clung to for rest and safety, but when he approached land at daybreak, he could not reach the land because of the log's buoyancy which helped the currents to keep him out at sea. The log saved him, yet prevented him from reaching safety -- the same thing I surmised about Natalie's down coat. He finallly tried to swim to shore but was too dehydrated and weak to accomplish the distance. At what surely would've been his final hour, along came a small fishing boat by chance that rescued him. The episode was fascinating. Here is the link to it. Look for the episode "Lost at Sea"


  14. and this infuriates me all that more, that Wagner sat there downing Scotch while his wife was struggling in the water, possibly being stung by jellyfish as this man experienced. Wagner knew what she could be enduring yet he waited close to 4 hours to call the Coast Guard. How does that make sense to anyone, how DID that make sense to anyone? Wagner knew the ocean, he knew all of the possibilities yet he sat and drank. But he did nothing wrong, he loved her so much, he was a wonderful husband.