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Actress Natalie Wood starred in the films Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean and in West Side Story as Maria. She drowned during a boating trip in 1981.
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She enjoyed great popularity, becoming a hit with movie star fan magazines. Wood had numerous relationships—both public and secret—with her co-stars, colleagues and other stars. She dated actor Dennis Hopper, hotel dynasty heir Nicky Hilton,
and even singer Elvis Presley.
Her first marriage in the 1950s also attracted much media coverage. The 18-year-old star wed actor Robert Wagner, eight years her senior, in 1957. The couple became a favorite subject in fan magazines. The union, unfortunately, did not last, with the pair splitting up in 1962. Around this time, Wood became involved with Warren Beatty.
Even after years of therapy, Wood reached a point of deep despair in 1966. She attempted to kill herself by drug overdose that year. As part of her recovery, Wood took a break from making movies. In 1969, she married Richard Gregson, a writer and producer. The couple had a daughter, Natasha, the following year.
In 1972, Wood's volatile personal life took another turn. She divorced Gregson and decided to remarry Wagner. Wood and Wagner had one child, a daughter named Courtney, born in 1974. This time around, Wood seemed to devote more time to her family rather than her career. The pair stayed together until Wood's death in 1981.
Wood returned to the big screen with the 1969 comedy Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, co-starring alongside Elliott Gould, Dyan Cannon, and Robert Culp. After that film, she took on few acting roles. Wood earned positive reviews for her performance in a televised version of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1976. Three years later, she received acclaim for her role in the television miniseries From Here to Eternity.
That same year, Wood paired up with Sean Connery for the poorly received sci-fi film Meteor. She next appeared in the 1980 comedy The Last Married Couple in America, but again commercial and critical success alluded her. In 1981, Wood worked on her final film Brainstorm, a science-fiction thriller, with Christopher Walken.
In November 1981, Wood took a trip with husband Robert Wagner to California's Catalina Island on their boat Splendour. Her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken was also on board. On the night of November 29, the three actors had been drinking. Wagner reportedly broke a bottle during a fit of anger over Wood's relationship with Walken. He thought the pair seemed too close. After that incident, Wood and Wagner allegedly argued.
Later that evening, Wagner was unable to find Wood. Her body was discovered the following morning, floating in the water off Catalina along with a dinghy from the Splendour. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning. It was theorized that Wood fell in the water after attempting to secure the dinghy to prevent it from banging into the boat. Some objected to this explanation, as Wood had a lifelong fear of the water.
Her family and friends gathered at Los Angeles's Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery to say good-bye to the lovely, yet troubled, star.
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