Lana Wood, the sister of Hollywood legend Natalie Wood, has been one of the leading voices in raising continuing questions about how her sister drowned.
The death of Natalie Wood is gaining new attention now that an investigator has labeled Wood’s husband, Robert Wagner, a “person of interest” in the star’s 1981 death, which occurred during a night the couple spent on a yacht with the actor Christopher Walken. Wagner has denied any wrongdoing in Natalie’s death, which was originally deemed an accidental drowning. CBS News aired a program on Wood’s death on February 3, called Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water.
Lana Wood, who is also known for her iconic turn as a Bond girl, has led a life filled with tragedy.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lana Wood Says ‘Somebody Hurt’ Natalie & Doesn’t Think Robert Wagner Is Telling Everything He Knows
Lana told Dr. Oz that she asked Robert Wagner, “RJ, what happened?’” Lana claimed, “His response to me there was… ‘It was an accident… I’m sorry.” The encounter occurred at Natalie’s home after her funeral, according to Fox News.
Lana Wood has given television interviews in advance of the CBS program. She told Inside Edition in 2018 that she thinks Robert Wagner is withholding information. On 48 Hours, Lana Wood pointed the finger at Robert Wagner, who has denied harming his wife.
“Somebody’s lying,” Lana Wood told Inside Edition. “Somebody hurt her. Somebody’s hurting all of us. Stand up and tell me the truth! I know things go bad. I know people lose their tempers! I know bad things happen when you don’t want them to. So, stand up and tell me that… Tell me what happened to her.”
According to Lana, she doesn’t believe Wagner’s story that Natalie must have drowned while trying to take a dinghy to shore, especially since the boat’s campaign, Dennis Davern, now says he heard an argument between Wood and Wagner moments before she disappeared. “She would have never, never in a million years left the boat undressed,” Lana Wood told Inside Edition. “Undressed! She was in a nightgown!”
2. Lana Wood Is a Former Bond Girl
Although Lana Wood’s career never reached the heights of her sister’s, she did find some measure of her own fame as a “Bond girl” (Robert Wagner’s wife Jill St. John, to whom he’s been married since 1990, is also a former Bond girl.) She played Plenty O’Toole in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, opposite Sean Connery, with whom she was romantically linked.
According to IMDB, Lana’s career started out in Natalie’s shadow. She played a baby in Wood’s film Driftwood, although the role was cut from the end product, and she played a younger Natalie Wood in the iconic John Ford movie, The Searchers. Lana Wood also starred in a series of well-known TV shows, including Peyton Place. She starred in a series of Hollywood films, and, later, in TV movies.
3. Lana Wood Has Said She’s Happy There Are New Developments in Her Sister’s Death Investigation
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant John Corina told CBS’s 48 Hours: “As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s (Wagner) more of a person of interest now.” Lana has said she’s happy by that development, including the news that Natalie’s death is now considered suspicious by authorities.
“All I’ve ever wanted is the truth – Natalie deserves that,” she said, according to The Sun. “I’m pleased with this development and I’m hopeful that this will help the truth come out and she can finally rest in peace and her family can try to heal. Whether or not that will happen I don’t know – but we can try.”
She added that she just wants to know the truth: “The truth is important and this news isn’t a minor thing – I don’t have to say how important this is. This has been the most pivotal, jarring thing that has happened in my life,” Lana Wood told The Sun.
4. Lana Wood Was Born Under a Different Name to Ukrainian & Russian Immigrants
Lana Wood was born as Svetlana Gurdin in Santa Monica, California, “the younger daughter of Nikolai Stephanovich Zakharenko and Maria Stepanovna Zudilova, émigrés of Ukrainian and Russian descent,” reports IMDB.
The parents barely spoke English and changed the family’s last name after they became United States citizens, the site reports. “Both her parents’ families fled their Russian homeland following the Communist takeover and the couple met and married in San Francisco,” IMDB reports, adding that Natalie Wood was born Natalia and Lana and Natalie had a half-sister named Olga.
Lana Wood was born on March 1, 1946. Lana was married five times, and four of those marriages ended in divorce and one was annulled, according to UK Daily Mail. She also famously posed for Playboy Magazine. UK Daily Mail alleges that Lana had relationships with Sean Connery, Warren Beatty, and other stars but, in more recent years, had decided to give up on love.
“I went through my whole life wanting to feel I belonged. I was very, very lonely, so I would marry people that I wasn’t really in love with, and who weren’t right for me, because I hoped they would be,” she told Daily Mail.
5. Lana Wood’s Daughter Also Died Young & Lana Has Faced Serious Financial Issues
In 2017, Lana Wood lost her daughter, Evan Maldonado, who died at age 42 on July 18, according to Fox News. (Natalie was 43 when she died). Evan died of a heart attack, according to Fox. She was the daughter of Lana Wood and Edward Maldonado.
A friend raised more than $38,000 for Lana on GoFundMe, writing in March 2017, “I can hand on heart say that I think Lana is thee most inspirational woman I have met in my life and I admire her greatly for it. She is the epitome of a strong woman. But all strong women have weak moments, and Lana is no different.”
The page continues: “Lana has been through Bond & Beyond and has been evicted from her home of 7 years and has knowwhere (sic) to go. Lana is currently packing rapidly trying to get her belongings out of the property before the sherrif (sic) locks her out. She also does not have the money to put down for another house. This wouldn’t be such an issue if Lana lived on her own, but Lana cares for her whole family, including her daughter (who is dealing with serious health issues and is battling with cancer), grandchildren and the many rescues she has. Everything is on her shoulders at the minute and nobody at Lana’s age should be stuck in this position, especially after what she has been through. The stress of this for her is what worries me more than anything. As a friend I cannot watch her go through this on her own. She needs our help.”