Actress Natalie Wood Death Probe Yields No New Finding

LOS ANGELES (CBS / CNN) — Nearly two months after reopening its investigation into the 1981 drowning death of movie star Natalie Wood, a San Francisco native, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has yet to come across new information that changes the case.

The Los Angeles Times newspaper reported Wednesday that detectives had found no signs of foul play or other evidence to suggest Wood’s cause of death was anything but accidental. A top sheriff’s department official also told the Times it was extremely unlikely that any new ground would be broken on how the actress died.

On Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, Wood, 43, was off Catalina Island on a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and then co-star Christopher Walken. During the trip, she somehow went overboard into the water and died.

Authorities at the time ruled the death an accident. However, there has been much speculation about whether there was more to the story.

Detectives have carried out numerous interviews and reviewed the entire original file case since reopening the case in a surprise move in November after receiving what a sheriff’s spokesman said was ‘intriguing’ information from several sources. Detectives also traveled to Hawaii to re-inspect the yacht where Wood was last seen alive 30 years ago.

While authorities haven’t gone into specifics about who they’ve interviewed recently, CNN reported Wednesday that investigators had yet to re-interview two key witneses: Wagner and yacht captain Dennis Davern.

As the new probe into the case was launched, Davern went on several television shows expressing skepticism about the original investigation and saying he believed that Wood might have met with foul play.

Investigators did say when they reopened the case that Wagner wasn’t considered a suspect.

Wood’s first starring role was as a child in “Miracle on 34th Street” in 1947, and she played alongside some of Hollywood’s top leading men — James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” and Warren Beatty in “Splendor in the Grass.” She was nominated for Oscars in both of those films, as well as for “Love With the Proper Stranger” (1963). One of her more memorable roles was as Maria in “West Side Story.”

(Copyright 2011 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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