Although the recently re-opened investigation into the tragic death of actress Natalie Wood is still ongoing, the author who sparked it all, Marti Rulli, says she has finally been able to get back to a normal day-to-day in New Jersey. She still thinks about the late actress every day and remains grateful that the shocking events that took place off Catalina Island on Thanksgiving weekend 1981 are finally getting their proper investigative due.
“From everything I know, the case is still alive and very much being investigated,” Rulli tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “It will take the time that the case deserves. I trust that they will not close up this case without interviewing the people who were on board.”
“I don’t know the exact status of the LA County Sheriff’s investigation, or when they’re interviewing the other people involved,” she continues. “What I do know is that they had said they intend to interview everyone who had information about the case.”
Looking back at the frenzy of media attention the re-opening of the case received, Rulli agreed that she was amazed how few people in the media who interviewed her took time beforehand to read the book she wrote with Splendour captain Dennis Davern. The producer of CBS news magazine 48 Hours was an exception to that rule.
Rulli says one of her best media experiences involved A.J. Hammer, host of CNN’s Showbiz Tonight. “I especially enjoyed A.J.’s interview because he approached it in the vein that I believe it should be approached. That Natalie deserves this. He asked pertinent questions and he asked things that some other interviewers did also, but did not air.”
“There are many fine details about this case and A.J., he seemed to catch on to that,” adds Rulli. “He realized the intricate details about the story and he asked about them, how and why this case got re-opened. Which is very important, because just to hear that it’s reopened, a lot of people might believe it doesn’t deserve to be re-opened.”
Another stand-out bit of coverage for Rulli was a report on Inside Edition. They were the only outlet to expand upon her down jacket theories about how the garment would have likely kept Wood afloat after the actress fell into the icy ocean waters.
“They did a test in the water with a model,” Rulli recalls. “It showed that the down jacket does float a person, something that I had in the book. It’s chilling that she possibly floated alive, terrorized, for several hours. I cannot see where, wearing a down jacket in water, how you could drown immediately. Hypothermia probably set in for Natalie first.”
“These are the tests that I hope will be recreated [by authorities] in a professional manner,” she adds. “Mine was an amateur test and the one that was shown on TV was also an amateur test. I’m hoping that professionally, these types of experiments and the meaning behind them will be conducted. It will take time. We just have to wait.”
As far as the less impressive flip side of the media coverage she received, two recurring themes for Rulli were frequently outlets bungled the fact that Goodby Natalie, Goodbye Splendour was not a new release (it was published in2009) and the lack of follow-up after initial coverage. “A lot of details were overlooked,” she says.
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Author Campaigns to Have Natalie Wood Death Investigation Re-Opened
Natalie Wood Drowning ‘Ear Witness’ Was Threatened Three Days Later
Splendour Captain Recalls Early National Enquirer Tactics
Author Chastises Access Hollywood for Natalie Wood Item