LOS ANGELES: The author of a book that called for the re-opening of a probe into Hollywood icon Natalie Wood's mystery 1981 death welcomed Tuesday a report that the official cause of her passing has been changed.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has neither confirmed nor denied the report by celebrity news website TMZ last week that the cause has been altered from “accident” to “undetermined” following the November revival of a probe into what happened.
The LA County Sheriff's office and Wood's husband Robert Wagner, whose role in her death has long been a mystery, have also declined to comment.
Still, Marti Rulli, coauthor of “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,” said she believes the reported adjustment occurred because of evidence of bruising on the body of the actress, found on the night of November 29, 1981 off California's Catalina Island.
If true, the TMZ report “confirms everything in 'Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour' ... that Natalie's case really needed a good investigation,” she told AFP.
“Many things were overlooked in the original investigation and I think it shows progress ... they are saying that the case is alive and active and still being investigated.”Rulli went on to say she believed Wood's bruises were not consistent with “a simple fall into the ocean.””It would have been virtually impossible to acquire that many bruises in so many areas of her body with one fall,” she said.
The death of the “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause” star at age 43 has long been a Hollywood mystery -- but was thought to have been laid to rest until November's surprise announcement that police were reviving the probe.
The captain of a boat on which Wood and Wagner were holidaying said the couple had a fierce row shortly before she vanished, and that Wagner then delayed a search that could have saved her.
Dennis Davern, former captain of the “Splendour” - and who co-wrote the 2009 book with Rulli - has said he thought Wagner was responsible for her death.
Wood was found drowned about a mile away from the yacht. Police reports at the time said she was wearing a nightgown, socks and a down jacket, and had multiple bruises on her body and arms and an abrasion on her left cheek.
A publicist for Wagner said in November that his family supported the police probe, while warning against people “trying to profit from the 30 year anniversary of her tragic death.”