Actress Natalie Wood died on November 29, 1981 when she was 43 years old. Wood is buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles on December 3, 1981.
Wood is the subject of the HBO documentary titled “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind,” which was co-produced by her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner and chronicles the effect her death had on her family and the public and includes multiple emotional bombshells according to the Los Angeles Times.
The documentary airs tonight, May 5, 2020 at 9 p.m. on HBO. Wood’s husband at the time of her death, Robert Wagner, is reportedly a large part of the documentary.
The Funeral Was Attended by 100 Guests
According to an article written by The Washington Post at the time, about 100 people gathered around Wood’s gravesite to bid farewell to the actress while she was buried in a city she loved.
The day was tinged with suspicions about what happened to Wood as questions began to surface. At the time, Sherriff’s homicide investigators intended to re-interview Wagner and actor Christopher Walken after they heard the coroner discuss the two actors’ “heated argument” that allegedly prompted Wood to leave the Wagners’ yacht around midnight that night.
Attendees at the funeral included her daughters, Courtney and Natasha, who were seven and 11 years old, respectively, at the time.
Wood’s body was contained in a white casket that was draped with white flowers, and there were eulogies by actress Hope Lange, author Thomas Thompson and actor Roddy McDowell.
Wood’s Funeral Was Attended by Celebrities
In addition to her family, Wood’s funeral was attended by some of the biggest celebrities at the time. Honorary pallbearers at the funeral included Laurence Olivier, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck and Frank Sinatra. They each dropped flowers onto the casket after the eulogies, though there are differing reports on which of the pallbearers were actually able to attend the ceremony with some citing that Gene Kelly was not in attendance.
The service was led by Reverend Stephen Fitzgerald of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin Mary in North Hollywood, and Russian music played in the background as a tribute to Wood’s roots.
There were over 50 reporters and photographers outside the iron gates at the time, and friends reported that Wagner had become ‘galvanized’ after days of mourning his wife’s death and personally handling the funeral arrangements.
“I think he looks on it as a bad movie that needs a retake,” Lionel Stander, a close friend of the family said at the time. “He’s just shattered. He’ll survive, but he’ll never forget this. It’s ineradicable.”
Wagner’s attorney said he was “devastated with grief.”
HBO’s documentary “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” premieres on May 5, 2020 at 9 p.m. and is rated TV-14, as it may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14. In the documentary, Wagner talks with his stepdaughter Gregson about the night of Natalie Wood’s death.
According to USA Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department labeled Wagner a “person of interest” when it reopened the investigation of Wood’s death in 2018, and Wagner has also been accused of foul play by Splendour deckhand Dennis Darven and Wood’s sister, Lana.
Wagner’s spokesman told USA Today that those two should be embarrassed by their actions, saying “They are despicable human beings, capitalizing on the accidental death of a beloved member of the Wagner family. They should be ashamed of themselves.”