An ID Book Club Selection
Natalie Wood has been hailed alongside Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor as one of the top three female movie stars in film history. We watched her mature on the movie screen before our eyes in classics such as Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, and West Side Story. But the story of what she endured, of what her life was like when the doors of the soundstages closed, had long been obscured.
Based on years of astonishing research, Natalie Wood (previously published as Natasha) raises the curtain on Wood's turbulent life. Award-winning author Suzanne Finstad conducted nearly four hundred interviews with Natalie Wood's family, close friends, legendary costars, lovers, film crews, and virtually everyone connected to her death. Through these firsthand accounts, Finstad reconstructs a life of emotional abuse and exploitation, of unimaginable fame, great loneliness, and loss. She reveals painful truths in Wood's complex relationships with James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Warren Beatty, and, of course, Robert Wagner.
Thirty years after Natalie Wood's death, the L.A. Sheriff's Department reopened the investigation into her drowning using Finstad's groundbreaking research and chilling, hour-by-hour timeline of that tumultuous weekend as evidence. Within a year, the L.A. Coroner changed Natalie Wood's death certificate from "Accidental Drowning" to "Drowning and Other Undetermined Factors." In 2018, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department officially named Wagner a "Person of Interest" in Wood's death.
In this updated edition, Finstad will share her explosive findings from the last two decades. With her unprecedented access to the LASD's "Murder Book," ignored by the original investigators, and new witnesses who have never spoken publicly, Finstad uncovers what really happened to Natalie Wood on that fateful boating trip in 1981 with Wagner and Christopher Walken. She expands on intimate details from Wood's unpublished memoir, which affirms her fear of drowning and the betrayal by Wagner that shattered their first marriage.
Finstad tells this heartbreaking story with sensitivity and grace, revealing a complex and conflicting mix of fragility and strength in a woman who was swept along by forces few could have resisted.