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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Wagner’

Natalie Wood Author Completes Follow-Up Book

CloserCoverLanaWoodFor those of us who pay close attention to the re-opened investigation into the death of Natalie Wood (she died 33 years ago this holiday weekend), the latest media flurry started with a cover story in the September 4 issue of Closer magazine. That interview with Natalie’s sister Lana was followed, earlier this month, by an emphatic open letter from Lana in the National Enquirer.

In the Closer piece, there was also some subtle framing offered up by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Lieutenant John Corina.

No matter what develops on the law enforcement front, there is guaranteed to be more attention on this matter generated next year, thanks to Marti Rulli. The New Jersey-based author, whose 2009 book and subsequent 2011 efforts sparked the re-opening of the investigation, tells FishbowlNY she has just completed the first draft of her Natalie Wood “continuation” book.

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The Most Popular FishbowlNY Posts for the Week

Here’s a look at the FishbowlNY posts that made the most buzz this week.

Shutterstock2012TCMFestRobertWagner1) Ho Ho Huh? Reaction to Robert Wagner-Santa Claus Movie is Decidedly Mixed

2) Hugo Lindgren Strides Up the Hollywood Food Chain

3) Specter of Philip Seymour Hoffman Looms Over National Enquirer NYC Relocation

4) In Touch Stuffs Kim Kardashian Into a ‘Photo Recreation’

5) How Larry King Landed That 1964 Frank Sinatra Interview

Keep up-to-date with the latest FishbowlNY news. Click here to sign up for the FishbowlNY daily newsletter, bringing you our articles each afternoon directly to your inbox.

[Photo of Wagner at 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival: RoidRanger/Shutterstock.com]

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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Vetting the Enquirer’s ‘New Natalie Wood Death Theory’

On the bottom, right-hand corner of this week’s National Enquirer cover sits the teaser for an explosive two-page item by Barry Levine, Patricia Shipp and Steve Herz. Inside and crowned at one layout-end by the illustration below, an unnamed source tells the publication that the re-opened investigation into the 1981 death of Natalie Wood has taken a new turn, based on information in the autopsy about urine levels found in the actress’ body.

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After reading the full, print version of this “Exclusive Special Report,” FishbowlNY decided to check in once again with Marti Rulli, co-author of the book that started it all (Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour). She told us that two elements of the Enquirer article merit elaboration.

1) Natalie Wood May Have Been Unconscious Before Being in the Water

“That was determined from the new autopsy review, based on the amount of urine in her bladder and slight amount of froth in her lungs. Those findings suggest she was either unconscious or dead before being in the ocean.”

“That, of course, leads to the question – ‘How does an unconscious or dead body get itself into the water?’ The autopsy was, earlier, changed from accidental to undetermined because another review of Natalie’s body strongly indicates she was assaulted. Her bruises are consistent with being battered, or a struggle having transpired. Those are the main reasons Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) detectives will not close her case. They believe, with the witnesses who have come forward, and the scientific medical evidence now considered, that they have every reason to believe the case is solvable.”

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Liz Smith Hosts Robert Wagner

Book Review You Must Remember ThisTuesday night at the 92nd Street YMCA, gossip columnist Liz Smith sat down with now 84-year-old actor Robert Wagner for a discussion, reading and signing of his latest book You Must Remember This. Today, she writes briefly about what she took away:

I remarked on R.J.’s way with women (he made love to most of his leading ladies) and married the adorable Natalie Wood — twice! I was careful, however, because in the audience was Wagner’s wife of more than 20 years, Jill St. John. How has Wagner survived, personally and professionally? Well, he is a real gentleman that’s how – intelligent, wise, charming, open and with open arms.

The Y event took place a few hours after Wagner’s appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael. That earlier conversation started off with some mutual gushing between Wagner and his former Hope & Faith co-star Ripa.

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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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