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Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Davern’

Ho Ho Huh? Reaction to Robert Wagner-Santa Claus Movie is Decidedly Mixed

Some Facebook users think the idea of a fall 2014 Hallmark Channel original movie starring Robert Wagner as St. Nick is foolish, nay offensive. A larger number, at press time, are applauding the prospect.

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The TV movie, one-word titled Northpole, is scheduled to premiere November 15, with Wagner’s wife Jill St. John co-starring as Mrs. Claus. To Hallmark’s credit, they have allowed negative Facebook comments to remain on the page alongside the positive ones. However, all indications are that this could quickly turn into a PR nightmare:

Lynn Moffett I will never watch Hallmark again because they are giving these two a CHRISTMAS movie!! Christmas IS Miracle on 34th Street!!!!!! This news is nauseating!!!!

Marianne Pesci Klee For the poster who asked how long they have been together: they went on their first date TEN WEEKS after Natalie Wood died. And they went on Valentine’s Day… to Natalie’s favorite restaurant. Some “grieving” husband! And for anyone who doubts this, St. John has verified this in an interview. She gushed about it. Wagner has tried to claim it was six months later. They should try to get their stories to match.

Susan Cook Love Hallmark but not him. Not after Natalie.

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Natalie Wood Author Comments on Bombshell Tabloid Report

This week’s sensational allegations about the circumstances surrounding the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood are not the first time the National Enquirer has trolled this territory. (And if you read the details carefully, the lifeguard log in question is far less shocking than the headlines suggest.)

In December 2011, the tabloid published the same basic “sex secret” allegations. And way back in 1983, a reporter working for the publication used dirty tricks to try and get something out of Splendour captain Dennis Davern.

What is new and credible is the revised Robert Wagner context. Thanks to the tireless efforts of New Jersey-based author Marti Rulli, there have been recently some other more authoritative revelations that have put the screws to the still-handsome actor. Rulli’s 2009 book Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour and related documents submitted to the LA County Sheriff’s Department in the fall of 2011 are directly responsible for all the news today that is fit (and not fit) to print.

FishbowlLA thought it was worth getting Rulli’s latest thoughts on the ongoing, re-opened LASD investigation. She was kind enough to give us the following exclusive statement via email:

“Innuendo that Robert Wagner and Chris Walken were caught in a sexual act by Natalie the night she died has resurfaced. Fact is, Wagner was jealous of Walken and accused him of wanting to bed his wife and that’s the factual account of what caused a huge argument between Wood and Wagner that led to her death.”

“The homicide detectives investigating Wood’s death have good reason to believe former captain Dennis Davern’s account: not only does Davern’s account make sense, Davern has cooperated fully with the department.”

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Author Marti Rulli Comments on Latest Natalie Wood News

Five pages into the autopsy report for Natalie Wood begins the reason for today’s chilling headlines: a re-evaluation begun May 12, 2012 and signed off by Coroner’s Office chief medical examiner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran on June 15. The information is what led the cause of death on Wood’s to be expanded to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

We decided to check in with author Marti Rulli to get her take on today’s developments. “The main point that needs to be made I think is that this is an independent report from the Coroner’s Office,” Rulli says. “It’s the forensics and science end of the investigation, and when it corresponds with the information gathered by the LA Sheriff’s Department and their ongoing investigation, then the department will be able to put together their most logical explanation regarding Natalie’s final night.”

“The important details include the 300 cc’s of urine in Natalie’s bladder,” she continues. “It’s likely she would have released her bladder if alive in the water for any length of time. There also exists no evidence that Natalie clung to a float-away dinghy and that is huge because it disposes of the long-time theory that that’s what happened the night she died. There’s also no evidence of Natalie having scratched the dinghy in an effort to climb aboard it.”

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One Year Later, Natalie Wood Author Points to the Bruises

On November 17, 2011, the LA County Sheriff’s Department announced that it was re-opening the investigation into the 1981 Thanksgiving weekend drowning death of actress Natalie Wood. The following day, a press conference was held.

Marti Rulli, author of the 2009 book Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendor, was instrumental in bringing about this new LASD investigation. This weekend on her blog, she recalls what it was like to be thrust into the resulting national media frenzy and – more importantly – shares images of two pages from the Wood autopsy report.

Rulli argues that the extensive bruises found on Wood’s body are the main reason why the LASD recently amended the cause of death on the actress’ death certificate to “drowning and other undetermined factors:”

After much research and studying Natalie’s autopsy report, I explained in Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour (with the help of Dr. Lyndon Taylor), Natalie’s bruises appeared to be of classic domestic violence nature. The bruises on the backs of her legs appear to be combat bruising. The small circular bruises at her ankles appear to be fingerprints. The scratch at her neck and the numerous other bruising indicates a possible altercation. There were over two dozen bruises on Natalie’s body when she was pulled from the ocean: bruises not logically accounted for in 1981.

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Breaking Down Last Night’s 48 Hours-Natalie Wood Updates

For anyone who has read Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour, the big “reveal” from last night’s updated repeat of a CBS News/Vanity Fair 48 Hours investigation into the re-opening of the Natalie Wood drowning investigation was already well familiar.

In chapters 32 and 34, author Marti Rulli writes that she encouraged Splendour captain Dennis Davern to call Wood’s younger sister Lana in 1992. During these conversations, Davern speculated about different possible scenarios involving Natalie’s final moments on the boat with Robert Wagner. Ten years later, Lana revisited these talks with Suzanne Finstad, author of the 2001 biography Natasha, with a taped excerpt of that conversation showcased on last night’s program.

There were two problems with this. One, 48 Hours made no mention of the wealth of related information in Rulli’s book. Two, the show misleadingly framed the Wood-Finstad audio as “Davern told her [Lana] he saw what happened to her sister.” Even though Lana is next heard saying that Davern “said it appeared to him…” (in the non-literal sense). From Rulli’s book:

Suzanne informed me that Dennis, years ago, had corroborated to Lana part of the Marilyn Wayne and John Payne account – that in fact Natalie was in the water crying for help as R.J. argued with her. She said Dennis had told Lana that R.J. “might have” pushed Natalie into the water and that R.J. decided to teach Natalie a lesson by not helping – taunting her when she was in the water.

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Natalie Wood Author Reacts to Death Certificate Change

What does the person most responsible for the re-opening of the Natalie Wood drowning investigation think about the latest development – the August 7 amendment of cause on the actress’s death certificate? Tonight, Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour co-author Marti Rulli has finally shared her thoughts:

Natalie’s death is no longer considered an accident: it is considered undetermined how she acquired her bruises. The 1981 initial investigation into Natalie Wood’s death was incompetent…

This development is huge for Natalie Wood’s legacy. She did not “get drunk and fall off a boat,” as a couple of books would have us believe. No one ever thought Natalie’s case would be reopened. It was. And, it will remain open until other conclusions can be determined. If that can’t be done, at least we now know, although no suspects have been named, that Natalie’s death is a suspicious one.

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Author Marti Rulli Revisits Natalie Wood Media Frenzy

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.

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National Enquirer Publishes Explosive New Natalie Wood Claim

It apparently took five bylined reporters to wrangle a worrisome new circumstantial allegation about the weekend of Natalie Wood‘s drowning death off Catalina Island.

The tabloid spoke to 52-year-old interior designer Robin Butillo, who back in 1981 was roommates with someone she describes as a “close friend” of actor Christopher Walken. Hours after news broke of Wood’s drowning death, she says her roommate fielded a telephone call from the actor:

“In the phone call, it was clear that Chris was devastated by the tragedy. He was upset and confessed that a ‘sex secret’ had occurred, leading up to Natalie’s death.” Butillo added: “While it’s clear Chris had no involvement in Natalie’s actual death, he clearly felt the need to unload his sorrow on his friend.”

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Splendour Captain Recalls Early National Enquirer Tactics

A big complaint of Marti Rulli, co-author of the 2009 book Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour is that many journalists writing about the re-opening of the investigation into the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood have failed to actually read the book. She’s absolutely right on that point.

FishbowlLA has read the book. It is very cleverly structured, extremely well-written and though faithful to a single point of view (that of co-author and former ship captain Dennis Davern), full of details and context that would likely amaze many reporters. For example, how many of these journalists know about Wagner allegedly keeping Davern under the equivalent of house arrest for months on end after the November 29, 1981 incident, forcing the dutiful employee to stay at the Wagner residence and abide by a 10 p.m. curfew?

However, for the purposes of this item, the detail we want to share is a recollection from Davern about the ways in which the National Enquirer tried to get him to spill his story in the fall of 1983. After a snoop posing as a potential buyer of Splendour failed to get Davern to let him photograph the inside of the boat, this wining-and-dining individual—Peter Williams—brought along one evening a leggy, female accomplice. Per the book:

She, too, wanted “business-related” photographs of Splendour’s interior. Dennis refused, but Elizabeth invited him back to her apartment for dinner. “We were on the sofa in her apartment,” Dennis recounted, “and she put her hand inside my shirt… She started to take off her clothes, so I took off mine. We went at it…”

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EXCLUSIVE: Director Who Worked with Wagner, Walken Finalizing Release Deal

Last week, we told you about Life’s a Beach, the only film to have co-starred Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Today, we were able to connect with the movie’s writer-director Tony Vitale, who explains that big things are about to happen with his never-released, beach resort-set R-rated comedy.

“The Canadian rights were recently sold first, but after further review of the film, someone wants to buy worldwide rights,” Vitale tells FishbowlLA via telephone from Los Angeles, where he has been based for the past 15 years. “So it’s a matter of us reacquiring the Canadian rights and then doing this new deal. I’m hoping it will be done by the end of the year.”

In the film, Walken plays Roy Callahan, the father of a bride (Rebecca, Christine Lakin) who stands up husband-to-be Darren (Darren Geare) at the altar. Distraught, the passed-over groom heads down to a Club Med type resort with a friend to try and recover. Among the more prominent guests at the resort are a married swinger couple, Tom and Felicia Wald (Wagner, Morgan Fairchild).

Wagner and Walken have no scenes together in the film, although they each worked on the project for about two weeks. That is not entirely by accident. “We were sensitive to that [their real-life connection] going in,” Vitale explains. “In the movie, Fairchild’s character eventually seduces Darren; she and Wagner have both been married multiple times. There’s also a big twist involving Wagner’s character.”

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