Long-Lost Natalie Wood Interview: Actress Talks Robert Wagner and Being "Petrified" of the Ocean

E! News has exclusively obtained audio and video footage of Wood being interviewed by columnist Shirley Eder in the 1970s

By Natalie Finn, Katie Rhames Nov 24, 2011 2:00 AMTags

Before her death by drowning in 1981, Natalie Wood eerily spoke of her fear of the water and her relationship with husband Robert Wagner.

And E! News has exclusively obtained audio and video footage from famed Hollywood columnist Shirley Eder, a close friend of Wood and Wagner, who interviewed the couple in 1977 at their home, and then sat down with Wood again in 1979. Eder died in 2005.

With Wood's daughter, Natasha Gregson, playing piano in the background, the three-time Oscar nominee and Wagner opened up about love the second time around.

"I'm sure glad it all worked out," Wagner said, smiling. He and Wood were first married from 1957 to 1962, and then again from 1972 until her death on Nov. 28, 1981. They had one daughter together, Courtney, during their second union.

When Eder asked if they still fought about the same things as they had 20 years earlier, Wood said, "No, we really don't argue very much."

"I guess we do [belong together]," Wood agreed with Eder. "Yeah, I think we do."

L.A. County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives are reexamining the Wood case based on new information they recently received. Authorities say that neither Wagner nor Christopher Walken, who was on the boat with the couple the night Wood died, are suspects.

Dennis Davern, who captained the boat for the Wagners, told Today last week that he holds Wagner responsible for what happened and that, as he and Marti Rulli wrote in their 2010 book Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, he heard the couple arguing loudly shortly before Wood disappeared.

It was Wagner, Wood said, who took care of all the navigating on their 60-foot yacht, Splendour.

"It sleeps about 10," she noted. "That's a big boat!"

But apparently sailing wasn't exactly Wood's favorite pastime—in fact, she admitted to having a horrible experience on a film set in 1952 that obviously stuck with her for years.

"I had a mean director one time who threw me in the ocean," Wood revealed. "I don't want to say [who it is]."

But we can infer.

"I was terrified," Wood continued. "I was petrified, because we were in the open ocean. It was a picture with Bette Davis, as a matter of fact, and when she found out, she refused to work until they got a double for me because she knew that I was petrified."

Wood played Davis' daughter in 1952's The Star, directed by Stuart Heisler.

At an AFI tribute in her honor in 1977, Wood again recalled Davis sticking up for her 25 years beforehand, threatening to leave the film unless Heisler brought in a double for the scene in which Wood's character was supposed to jump into the ocean and swim to a raft.

"This was the only time I saw the famous Bette Davis temperament surface," Wood recalled, "and it was not in her own behalf."