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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, November 8, 2010

The Thanksgiving Natalie Wood "haunted" me.

After Suzanne Finstad’s “Natasha” was published in 2001, I got real busy on GNGS. I had met Dr. Lyndon Taylor and he helped me tremendously as he was a true turning point for GNGS. But after the 9/11 tragedy, coupled with a job change and some family things going on, I put GNGS on the back burner. I had hoped Suzanne’s accurate timeline in “Natasha” would surely serve Natalie’s case but the 9/11 tragedy superceded most everything in our lives then.

Time got away from me. In 2003, I realized that I was hardly thinking about GNGS so I gave it some effort. I wanted to finish for Natalie’s memory but I hadn’t been talking with Dennis much, and was busy with so many other things. By 2005, GNGS was about the last thing I was able to fit into my busy schedule. On Thanksgiving Evening 2005, I hadn’t realized it until something strange happened, but I hadn't even though about Natalie that day.

First, I want to clarify that I’m only relatively superstitious, meaning I’ll knock on wood occasionally, and I won’t open an umbrella in the house. It would take A LOT to have me believe something supernatural or eerie. But, there’s simply NO explanation for what happened on Thanksgiving Night 2005.

I had company for Thanksgiving that day, and my daughter and daughter-in-law decided to spend the night so we could go shopping early on Black Friday. It was a habit in my home to watch “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” on Thanksgiving evenings. (I’m a huge fan of both Steve Martin and the late John Candy and the movie always makes me laugh and choke-up.)

Before starting the movie, I went upstairs to get a few blankets. Normally, I would’ve fetched blankets from a closet. Instead, even after I had the closet door open, I went to the spare bedroom and flipped on the light switch. I had been in the attic a few days earlier and brought down four small boxes of various holiday items that hadn’t been touched since 1993 when I moved to my home here. I had stacked the boxes on a chair in the spare room, on top of blankets, and left them there. When I went to pick up the lightweight boxes to place on the dresser, I picked up all four of them at once, but somehow they separated and one box was left on the chair. Staring up at me, on top of the box left on the chair was this posted photograph here of Natalie! (Oddly, with a torn part of the photo on her cheek!)

I literally jumped back, because I knew instantly that the photo had NEVER been with these boxes, and there was absolutely no explanation for how the photo could’ve found its way between these very old boxes! I couldn't recall the last time I had seen it, but it was definitely downstairs, probably in my office years ago. The photo had been given to me by Carol Lallier after she visited California to visit Natalie’s grave many years AFTER these four boxes went into the attic and never came down. I never kept any of my book materials, photos, or items in the attic, or in the spare room.

As I was alone upstairs in the bedroom, seeing the photo of Natalie gave me chills. I felt as if Natalie had found a way of reminding me that it was Thanksgiving Day and I hadn’t even thought of her, as if she were sending me a message to not forget about her. I paid attention.
Because this peculiar, unexplainable incident happened on Thanksgiving evening, it was especially compelling. I felt guilty and I teared-up. And there hasn’t been a day since then that I haven’t dedicated a portion of my day, small or large in some form or another, to finishing GNGS for Natalie. I brought the photo downstairs with me that night, put it in front of my computer, and it has remained there to this very minute I removed it only to scan it in to present here.

For the life of me, I’ll never be able to figure out how that photo got where I found it. Along with the combination of events that took me to the photo that night, I’ll always wonder.
Sometimes wake-up calls come in strange ways.


  1. I love that story! The universe does indeed work in mysterious ways. I, too, have had synchronistic events that made no sense, yet led me to the direction I needed to go. It's been a year since I read GNGS, but haven't Dennis and Lana also had dreams of Natalie that made them feel it was a call to action? Don't be bothered if you get any static on this subject. You have to experience it to know something other than what we see is at work. I can't wait for Natalie to receive the justice she deserves. Thanks for heeding the call!

  2. I love this story too. I'm sure there are many things that happened through the years to inspire and keep you and Dennis moving forward. Everything from the slightest nuance to the day of Dennis' polygraph test must've worked on you both even when you didn't realize it. The way you came across this picture of Natalie in your spare room probably holds a logical explanation that you will never know, but it is still food for thought. Maybe there are logical realms our senses can't perceive. In any case, I really enjoyed reading this. I remember in your book when you mentioned something about a lamp blowing out that was once aboard the Splendour. That's much less eerie than this story. It's clear Dennis was haunted by Natalie in his dreams and in his thoughts, intensified by his guilt for withholding his story, but this story is really interesting, as if Natalie herself has been working for her own justice too.

  3. I'm sure there must be a logical explanation for how the photo got between those boxes, but the combination of having gone to THAT room, lifting the boxes, and one remaining on the chair (the one with her photo facing up), and that it was Thanksgiving night.... it blew me away and really had an impact. And having put the photo in front of my computer reminded daily of what I needed and WANTED to do.

    FUnny thing, I remember that I contacted my agent who had been in our corner since 1992 right after finding the photo and telling him about how I came across it. He made me laugh when he suggested that "maybe you shouldn't put this in the book" -- I told him that I had no intention on doing so, but that I wanted to let him know that I would seriously concentrate on Natalie over the next few years, and to expect a finished manuscript.

    If I had put this story in the book, I would have chanced ridicule and not have been taken seriously. But it really happened and really had an impact. I thought it okay to mention it at a blog. If anyone wants to ridicule it, I understand. It just still blows me away.

  4. Ridicule will only show how ignorant they are. You don't have to explain anything. You know what you know. Years ago, I was desperate to find a picture of my father and uncle together for my uncle's birthday. They were close before my father passed. I went through every photo we had and was about to give up three days before my uncle's birthday. The next day I got a pile of photos from Florida. A cousin had decided out of the blue to clean out some closets and thought I would enjoy some of the photos of my family. Of course, a photo of my father and uncle was in the package. (She had no idea we were looking for a photo) Let the cynics scoff, but I'm sure they have had similar experiences. No one should have to explain or feel silly about the mysteries of life. Just be glad you were open to receiving them.

  5. Marti,
    Did anything else ever happen that was strange?

  6. When I heard the news about Natalie's death, I was really shaken by it. I instinctively knew better than to try to get in touch with Dennis right away, although It took every drop of will power I could muster to not pick up the phone and try to reach him. I waited, and I figured it would be a while before he would call me... I decided to give it a month. I knew he would be bombarded. Phone calls were going back and forth between his friends and family in the meantime. His brother Paul called me and was frantic because NO ONE could get in touch with Dennis, not even their mother. That was MY first red flag.

    About a week before Christmas, I couldn't stand it any longer. I had the Wagner's home phone number, and Dennis's fiance's number, and the Splendour's number (which was technically his "home" phone number), but I doubted Dennis was on the boat. But, of the three numbers, I dialed the Splendour number first and Dennis picked up on the second ring.

    It was his FIRST NIGHT back on the boat since Nov. 29th. He was really tormented and said he wished he hadn't attempted to spend a night on the boat so soon, but that something had been drawing him to the boat that night. He was SO RELIEVED to receive my call. He would not let me off the phone, and I think it ended up being over a four hour phone call.

    We didn't talk about what happened the Thanksgiving weekend. I had started the conversation with condolences. I knew how much Dennis cared about Natalie. When I said, "I'm so sorry for what happened" there were a few moments of silence where I could tell Dennis didn't know how to respond: I could sense he wanted to say something that would address some details but he only said that it was a terrible thing to happen. Then quickly I started talking about something else.

    I do remember asking what might become of the boat and Dennis said he was going to start clearing it after the first of that new year. He said he was having troubles with his engagement and that he was really at a loss to think about the future at that point. He said he was bombarded with phone calls and letters and messages....he had answered none of them yet.

    What has always fascinated me about that first conversation I had with Dennis after Natalie's death is the timing of my phone call to him on the boat. It was simultaneous that I had finally given in to my urge to call him, and he had finally decided he could face spending a night on the boat. I have no doubt that in both our subconcious minds (if not a tad consciously) GNGS had started.

  7. Anonymous 10:44,

    That's quite a strange thing, too, that your cousin decided to send you photos at that particular time. I'm glad you got a picture of your father and uncle together.

  8. I wonder why no one, including his own mother, could get in touch with Dennis after Nat's death. If that doesn't come off as the most unnatural thing I don't know what does. It was all about Wagner from the get go, wasn't it? Obviously, Wagner's brigade was instantly established.

  9. I should have mentioned that when I asked Den during that first phone call why he hadn't been in touch with his mother yet, he went dead silent again for a few uncomfortable moments. He answered that because it was such big news and the media was all over it that he was ordered to contact NO ONE, family included, until given the okay.

    I told Dennis right then and there that I thought that was terrible, that his friends and family were really concerned about him, too, and that that's why I called instead of waiting to hear from him. Dennis said, "Yeah, that is pretty messed-up, isn't it?" Then, he seemed to take hold of his his own thoughts again and we talked for hours.

    I also recall one time how Dennis explained to me that he didn't see or view Natalie as a movie star. Dennis had never been into that scene: he rarely went to movies or watched TV, a real outdoorsman who never got lost in celebrity hype. To him, she was just Natalie, his employer, his friend, a wife and mother who he called the most professional woman he would ever cross paths with. He really admired her ambitions, but he never got lost in her status. That's not to say he wasn't aware of who he worked for. He knew how highly the Wagner family was regarded in Hollywood. His attitude toward them, however, is what I believe drew them to him, as well.

  10. I don't think you'll get any grief about this story. Every one has had similar experiences and just brushed it off to coincidence. Which is ridiculous if you think of all the factors that had to be in play and act in concert for the final result. Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity and it has been discussed from philosophers to Albert Einstein, so you are in exalted company. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy". - William Shakespeare

  11. When I was about five years old, my family moved into a house that included a combination playroom and storage area for me. Almost all my toys and dolls were there and I spent countless happy afternoons playing there. One afternoon, I noticed that at the top of the stairs, beside my retired fish tank, stood a woman I had never seen before. She had a slight smile but didn't say a word to me. I just thought it was a new neighbor come to call. Every afternoon she was there. Never speaking, just looking at me. I mentioned this to my parents, who thought I was 'just pretending.' One afternoon, the woman appeared and suddenly moved directly in front of me. Funny thing is, I didn't see her walk over, she was just there! Frightened, I ran past her, down the stairs, calling for my parents. They went upstairs, had a look around and said, "There's nobody up there." I refused to go up to the playroom for several weeks after that.
    When I finally did, she appeared once more, in her usual spot, not moving. I looked at her a couple of times, but she never came near me or looked directly at me again. And suddenly, she was gone. She never came back.
    About ten years later, looking through old family photographs with my mother, I came across a picture of the lady! I asked my mother if she remembered what had happened and she said, 'Yes, you were pretending.' I then showed her the picture of the woman, told my mother it was who I had seen and asked if she knew who it was. My mother gasped and tears came to her eyes. It was HER MOTHER, who had died years before I had been born. Because she and her mother had been so very close and every time I had asked about my grandmother my mother would start to cry, I stopped asking. There were no displayed pictures of my grandmother in our house because it pained my mother too much.
    Yes, truth is often stranger than fiction.

  12. Does anyone watch Animal Planet netwrok on TV? They have a series called 'The Haunted' (you can look this series up on their website) and although some of their episodes are scarier than all hell, I can't stop watching. I formally did not believe in ghosts, but this series has my head spinning. I now believe in a spiritual world. For the person who told the story about seeing your grandmother, it gave me chills all over!

  13. The photo of Natalie reminds me of how things turn up in odd and opportune places. I wore a ring I really loved to camp one year. Stupidly, I took it off to do something and never put it back on. When I got home and realized I didn't have it I was crushed. I called the campground and asked if anyone had turned it in but they hadn't. I was upset for the whole week and wished that someone would find it and call. At the end of the week, I looked under my bed for a shoe and the ring was there. Couldn't believe it! (yes, people saw me wearing it at camp) I have quite a few of these kind of stories and so do all of my friends. It's not as weird or uncommon as you think.

  14. Yes, the story about seeing your grandmother is incredible and really makes me wonder. I've never seen a ghost but my sister claims to have seen one decades ago when she lived in an apartment in a civil war building that was once used to house prisoners. I believe my sister because when the incident happened, her dog went crazy, too, and my sister wet her pants. I can see wetting your pants to enhance a story, but there was no way my sister could've made her dog act the way he acted in that house after the ghost spooked both of them when it was descending the stairs, as she tells it.

    I watch Animal Planet's "I Should't Be Alive" series. I recently mentioned here the story about the man who stayed alive for 20 hours in the Pacific Ocean because it related to how long Natalie could've stayed alive.

    I've seen commercials for the "Haunted" series but only saw one of those episodes about a haunted candle shop in the Pocono Mountains in Jim Thorpe, PA. (it's supposedly haunted by monkeys that were once experimented on in the building in the late 1800's.) Sounds crazy, but I was sure curious. We spent a weekend this past September at a friend's house in the Poconos and I kept saying I wanted to go to the candle shop, but we didn't make it there.

    Unexplainable things have always fascinated me.

  15. The ring story is amazing! It's also something you will never be able to explain or figure out. Question: do you specifically recall removing it AT the campground? Just curious.

  16. Yes, I absolutely remember it, because I was beating my self up for it and thinking how stupid I was to take it up there when it meant so much to me. Talk to your friends, I'll bet they all have a couldn't happen but it did story. Especially when something or someone important to them was involved.

  17. I don't believe our lives are planned or fated for us, but I do believe in destiny of sorts. I think you were destined to write Natalie's story, Marti. I love that you have your blog and I love the way you told your story in GNGS because it was the first time I ever read about Natalie and was able to relate to her and I think that's because you are (for lack of a better word) approachable, thus you helped to make Natalie approachable. By taking us through Dennis' years as their captain, then by explaining how you became involved captivated me. I suddenly felt justified in my anger over Natalie's death and all it entails. I suddenly didn't feel like a plebian with no right to question her death. I thank you for that. I've read all of your reviews and for those people not understanding why you approached the story the way you did, I believe their problem is that they feel so insignificant next to a famous subject that they resented your ability to present it with straightforwardness. They are the only ones who would make light of your anecdote here about the night Natalie surprised you in your spare bedroom. All I can say is that I hope you realize how significant you really are to all of us who care about what happened to Natalie.

  18. There always seems to be a high level of spirit activity or involvement when a death was sudden and traumatic. Natalie's horrifying death would certainly fit into that category. I don't think that kind of energy dissipates easily. I find it comforting to think that Natalie has an interest in the truth being revealed and is trying to move things in that direction.

  19. According to Lana and Dennis, Natalie visits them in dreams, right? Isn't it odd she visits the people who can/would help get her case reopened? Hasn't her daughters talked about her visiting them in dreams where's she 'just there'?

    It's been 29 years now. It's time for Natalie to rest in peace. I hope things move along at a faster pace soon.

  20. I am the person who wrote about my grandmother.
    I wanted to mention a few things I had left off in my previous post because I was concerned about being too long-winded!
    First, my grandmother was wearing exactly the same clothes, down to the pin/watch, that she had on in the photograph. Hair-style the same.
    I never saw her make an active movement. The slight smile was just 'there'. When she appeared in front of me, I never saw her actually move.
    The ceiling over where she always stood had a slight 'drop' and her upper body i.e. head, neck and shoulders always molded to fit that area.
    She never said a word. Perhaps she was going to say something when she stood in front of me, but her moving frightened me and I ran away from her.
    When I had first mentioned all this to my parents, they had gone to the playroom and pronounced it empty except for my toys. That time, I had immediately gone back up and walked right past my grandmother! Again, no movement.
    Needless to say, all this had my five year old mind confused! I think I had not been afraid before she moved because I had not been taught to fear such an experience. A great deal of fear is learned and this had never happened to me before. Seeing her across the room was 'normal' to me. Having her suddenly appear without walking in front of me made no known logical sense to me at the time. Hence, my fear of her.

    I do not find it strange in any way that Natalie has tried to make 'non-frightening' contact with Marti. I think that Natalie is, 'trying to speak' in the way now available to her.
    Please, I am no mystic! I work a 9-5 job in finance! But, I do believe that there is way more to life, yes, even after death, than can be seen with the naked eye.

  21. What an awesome experience! Thank you for explaining in more detail. I can understand you running from someone you did not know when she appeared right in front of you. I wonder if she would've (could've) spoken to you had you stayed which is something you most likely will never know. But through your experience you got to meet you grandmother. I believe your story without question, even if you weren't working a full time job :-)

  22. What a wonderful story.

  23. Hi, haven't posted before, but speaking of serendipity, there's currently a cruise ship off the coast of southern CA which is stranded due to a fire. The name of the ship....Splendor! Apparently this is the month we should all remember Natalie. Thanks for all you do Marti.

  24. Thank you zdisney9. I've seen the ship on the news and thought it ironic it's named Splendor.
    This truly is a month to remember Natalie.

  25. I have a story about that Carnival cruise ship, "Splendor." After I read "GNGS" last December, I was just heartbroken. (I still am.) For several months, I thought about it day and night--I really felt distressed. With every detail I learned, it got worse.

    My birthday came a short while after I read the book, and I was still in the throes of feeling despair over Natalie's story. That weekend, several members of my family and I traveled to Long Beach to spend some time together.

    We were a short distance across from the lovely Queen Mary, which is docked there. I thought of how Natalie filmed two movies aboard it, and I couldn't stop gazing at it, picturing her on that ship. I had visited it many times, but this time, I just kept thinking of Natalie on it.

    As I looked across the bay at the Queeny Mary, I saw a cruise ship docked nearby, which isn't unusual. Then I saw the name--it was "Splendor." I didn't think that was a coincidence.

  26. To the poster of Nov. 9th at 1:23 p.m.--what an excellent post! You have stated very eloquently and sincerely why Marti's work is so meaningful and why detractors of "GNGS" are so intimidated. You have really hit the nail on the head!

    The picture painted of Natalie in "GNGS" was of a thoroughly lovely, honest, decent, and caring woman that the average person could relate to and care about. She was a substantial woman, not a snob. It made me think that, surely, anyone who crossed her path in life must've felt like the luckiest person in the world to be around her.