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Natalie Wood Mystery: Coroner Amends Report
Bruises on Natalie Wood's body may have been caused before she mysteriously drowned in the ocean off southern California more than 30 years ago, a coroner's report has found.
An official review into the post-mortem examination held on the actress in 1981 was released on Monday.
A 10-page addendum cites unexplained bruises and scratches on her face and arms as significant factors that led to officials changing her death certificate last year from drowning to "drowning and other undetermined factors".
The 43-year-old star had been drinking heavily on a yacht with her actor-husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken in November 1981 off Catalina Island.
The initial coroner's report decided the death was accidental and the bruising probably occurred when she ended up in the water.
But it was amended last June to read: "The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water".
"Since there are unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this medical examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined," Chief Medical Examiner Dr Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran added.
The fact that Wood was not wearing a life jacket, had no history of suicide attempts and left no note also led officials to amend the death certificate.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the report does not change the status of the investigation, and Wagner is not considered a suspect.
The renewed inquiry came after the boat's captain, Dennis Davern, told a TV programme he heard Wagner and Wood arguing on the night of her disappearance and believed Wagner was to blame for her death.
Wagner wrote in a 2008 memoir that he and Walken had argued that night.
He wrote that Walken went to bed and he stayed up for a while, but when he went to bed, he noticed his wife and a dinghy that had been attached to the yacht were missing.
"Nobody knows," he wrote. "There are only two possibilities; either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened."
Neither Wagner nor Walken have responded to the amended coroner's report.
As a 16-year-old, Wood's part in Rebel Without A Cause alongside James Dean in 1955 earned her a nomination for the best supporting actress Oscar.
She starred in the musicals West Side Story and Gypsy, and received best actress nominations for her performances in Splendor In The Grass and Love With The Proper Stranger.
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