Skip to main content

Though no one knows exactly when they are going to die, as the famous saying goes, death is the greatest certainty of life. However, unfortunately, all too often, lives are lost too soon and tragically. 

Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Paul Walker, and Anna Nicole Smith are just a few of the celebrities that Hollywood has sadly and unexpectedly lost over the past few years. Natalie Wood is another actor who faced a similar fate, and, as a result, Wood‘s death led her sister to face some pretty unusual and unique circumstances. 

Natalie Wood and sister Lana Wood smiling, in black and white
Natalie Wood and Lana Wood | Earl Leaf/Getty Images

Natalie Wood’s sister stood in for certain ‘Brainstorm’ scenes after the actor’s mysterious death

Wood’s career as an actor began just as a child. One of the star’s breakout roles came in 1947 when she appeared as Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street. The movie would go on to be a huge success and is still considered to be a Christmas classic. 

Throughout Wood’s career, she appeared in many different television series and films, but the 1983 movie Brainstorm would be the actor’s last. The science-fiction movie explored the intriguing and dangerous possibilities that came with intruding into someone else’s mind. 

However, as BuzzFeed recapped, Wood had died before the film had completely finished wrapping. Despite resistance from the executives, the director, Douglas Trumbull, getting creative, found a way to complete Brainstorm

By enlisting the help of Wood’s sister, Lana Wood, Trumbull was able to use Wood’s sibling for some “long shots and shaded profiles”. Though, of course, it was far from the plan, Brainstorm was a hit and went on to receive a total of six award nominations.

The mystery surrounding the death of the famous actor Natalie Wood

The world was shocked when Wood died on November 29, 1981. The talented actor was only 43 years old at the time of her death. However, the star’s young age wasn’t the only strange aspect of Wood’s death. 

It was not unusual for Wood and Robert Wagner, her husband, to take their yacht out to Santa Catalina Island. However, what happened on the 29th of November was very odd. 

While on the yacht, Christopher Walken, Wood’s Brainstorm co-star, and the yacht’s pilot had joined the couple on the boat the night of Wood’s death. At around 10:30 p.m. Wood had gone missing, and at 8 a.m. the following morning her body was found about a mile from the yacht in the water. The dinghy from the boat was also found in the water, and authorities determined Wood must have accidentally died falling overboard while trying to board the small boat. 

Wood’s death is shrouded in suspicion for a few reasons. Growing up Wood was very wary of water. Ironically enough, Wood’s mother was told that she would drown to death. As a result, her mother’s fears caused Wood to be fearful of water as well. 

As a young girl Wood refused to learn how to swim and even struggled with putting her head underwater when washing her hair. Making matters even more strange and bizarre, when filming a scene near the water as a child, when a bridge collapsed, Wood almost fell in and drowned right there and then.

Moreover, many eyebrows were raised when the autopsy report revealed bruises had been found all over Wood’s body, giving authorities a renewed interest in Wagner, Wood’s widower who survived her. 

Natalie Wood’s official cause of death 


Britney Spears Speculates About Brittany Murphy’s Death: ‘Is Anybody Else Curious?’

In 2011, Wood‘s case was reopened. Wood’s loved ones were eager for authorities to hopefully get to the bottom of what really happened that fateful evening. 

The speculations and investigation surrounding Wood’s death continued, and in 2013, the actor’s cause of death was changed to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”