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Tragic actor Natalie Wood ‘would be at the forefront fighting for LGBT+ rights’ were it not for her mysterious death, says her daughter

Emma Powys Maurice May 5, 2020
Natalie Wood

US actress Natalie Wood, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1981 (Silver Screen Collection/Getty)

Natalie Wood would have been at the forefront of the battle for LGBT+ rights if she were alive today, her daughter has said.

The late Hollywood star, known for her iconic film roles such as Maria in West Side Story and Deanie in Splendor in the Grass, is the subject of a new HBO documentary released Tuesday (May 5).

Wood’s life was cut tragically short in 1981 when she died on a yacht trip aged 43.

She had been on the boat with her husband Robert Wagner, Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken and the boat’s captain Dennis Davern, but went missing and was found lifeless in the water. What happened to Natalie remains a mystery.

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind re-examines the circumstances that led to her passing, and sees Wood’s daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner reflect on her mother’s short but impactful life.

Natasha says watching it gave her “closure” on the traumatic period of her life.

“A lot of those home movies we hadn’t seen at all because they had just been in this box. Super 8s and 16 millimeter,” she said.

“The biggest thing for me is that it just reminded me that I didn’t dream the memories of my childhood. All that really happened.”

Speaking to Good Morning America ahead of the documentary’s release, Natasha said her mother was a woman ahead of her time.

“I think if she were alive today she’d be on the forefront of equal pay for women, she’d be on the forefront fighting for equal rights for the LGBTQ community,” she said.

“She was so ahead of her time in many ways.”

Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood pictured in 1961. (Ernst Haas/Getty)

What happened to Natalie Wood?

Wood’s body was found float­ing in the ocean off Santa Catalina a mile away from where she went missing. Details around her death, in particular how she ended up in the water, are still unclear.

According to the BBC, an autopsy report at the time revealed that she was found with bruises on her body and arms and a facial abrasion on her left cheek, bringing into question whether her death was the result of foul play.

A person on a nearby boat also told police that she had heard a woman screaming, suggesting there was some kind of dispute between her and Wagner.

Almost four decades later, in 2018, her then-husband, Robert Wagner, was named a “person of interest” in her death, but he has denied any involvement.

The cause of Wood’s death was initially ruled as accidental drowning and hypothermia, but the mystery has troubled law enforcement and fascinated the public for decades, giving rise to many conspiracy theories.

More: HBO, Hollywood, Natalie Wood, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind

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