NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The definitive biography of a vulnerable and talented actress, now with explosive new chapters and insider details of her tragic death, the cover-ups, and the reopened investigation.
An ID Book Club Selection • “Impressive, disturbing, and revelatory.”—Variety
Natalie Wood has been hailed alongside Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor as one of the top three female movie stars in film history. We watched her mature on the movie screen before our eyes in classics such as Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, and West Side Story. But the story of what she endured, of what her life was like when the doors of the soundstages closed, had long been obscured.
Based on years of astonishing research, Natalie Wood (previously published as Natasha) raises the curtain on Wood’s turbulent life. Award-winning author Suzanne Finstad conducted nearly four hundred interviews with Natalie Wood’s family, close friends, legendary costars, lovers, film crews, and virtually everyone connected to her death. Through these firsthand accounts, Finstad reconstructs a life of emotional abuse and exploitation, of unimaginable fame, great loneliness, and loss. She reveals painful truths in Wood’s complex relationships with James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Warren Beatty, and, of course, Robert Wagner.
Thirty years after Natalie Wood’s death, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department reopened the investigation into her drowning using Finstad’s groundbreaking research and chilling, hour-by-hour timeline of that tumultuous weekend as evidence. Within a year, the L.A. Coroner changed Natalie Wood’s death certificate from “Accidental Drowning” to “Drowning and Other Undetermined Factors.” In 2018, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officially named Wagner a “Person of Interest” in Wood’s death.
In this updated edition, Finstad will share her explosive findings from the last two decades. With her unprecedented access to the LASD’s “Murder Book,” ignored by the original investigators, and new witnesses who have never spoken publicly, Finstad uncovers what really happened to Natalie Wood on that fateful boating trip in 1981 with Wagner and Christopher Walken. She expands on intimate details from Wood’s unpublished memoir, which affirms her fear of drowning and the betrayal by Wagner that shattered their first marriage.
Finstad tells this heartbreaking story with sensitivity and grace, revealing a complex and conflicting mix of fragility and strength in a woman who was swept along by forces few could have resisted.
About the Author
Suzanne Finstad is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Natalie Wood: The Complete Biography (previously published as Natasha), named the best film book of 2001 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Several of her books, including the bestseller Sleeping with the Devil, have been adapted into movies. Finstad's works also include Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Warren Beatty: A Private Man.
“Gripping . . . a sad, penetrating portrait that juxtaposes the storybook myth that made Wood a popular movie actress and the real story of what happened once the cameras stopped rolling.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A spectacularly comprehensive, moving, shocking, and riveting book. It has put together many pieces of the puzzled life Natalie and I led, and helped me understand what I had not been able to see for myself.”—Lana Wood, Natalie Wood’s sister
“A poignant, intensely sympathetic portrait of the vulnerable, sensitive little girl who grew up to be the quintessential Hollywood star.”—Los Angeles Times
“[Finstad] helps us reach what certainly seems to be a clearer understanding of a woman who . . . was even more interesting, appealing and vulnerable in private than on the screen.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post