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Posted: February 01, 2018

Who is Robert Wagner, actor and person of interest in Natalie Wood's death?

Who is Robert Wagner?

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Actor Robert Wagner is considered a person of interest in the 1981 drowning death of his wife, actress Natalie Wood, investigators told CBS News.

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Producers with the network's "48 Hours" spoke with Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, who reopened the investigation into Wood's death in 2011, CBS reported Thursday. Wood's death was originally ruled an accident.

Wagner has appeared in more than four dozen films and numerous television shows since the 1950s. 

He's perhaps best known for his starring roles on the small screen. He played thief Alexander Mundy from 1968 to 1970 in ABC’s “It Takes a Thief,” alongside Fred Astaire -- a role that garnered him an Emmy nomination for Best TV Actor. He portrayed con man-turned-detective Pete Ryan on CBS' "Switch" from 1975 to 1978, also starring Eddie Albert. He went on to play wealthy, amateur detective Jonathan Hart, opposite Stefanie Powers, on ABC's "Hart to Hart" from 1979 to 1984.

In film, he is best known for his portrayal of Number Two in the "Austin Powers" films released in 1997, 1999 and 2002. His other film credits include 1956's "A Kiss Before Dying," 1963's "The Pink Panther" and 1966's "Harper." He most recently appeared in Netflix's "What Happened to Monday," released in 2017.

Wagner was 27 years old when he married Wood, who was 19 at the time, in 1957. The couple was well-known, but struggled to make their marriage work under the pressure of Hollywood and separated in 1961, according to They were divorced in 1962, and Wagner went on to marry actress Marion Marshall in 1963. 

Wagner and Marshall had one child together. The couple divorced in 1971.

Wagner and Wood reunited in 1972 and remarried after a brief courtship.

Wood drowned in 1981 after she went overboard on the couple’s yacht, Splendor, as it was anchored off Catalina Island. Also on the yacht at the time were Wood’s friend, actor Christopher Walken, and boat captain Dennis Davern. Weeks before her death, she told a reporter that she was afraid of dark water, according to Vanity Fair.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies ruled Wood’s death an accident after a two-week investigation, according to CBS News

>> Related: Robert Wagner a ‘person of interest’ in Natalie Wood’s death, report says

Wagner recalled his loss in his 2016 book “I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses.”

“When Natalie died, I thought my life was over,” he wrote, according to People magazine. “I thought I would never get up, you know? My children helped me heal. And my friends were so supportive. And slowly I was able to get up. I got on my feet but it was a very, very difficult and a sad time.”

He went on to marry actress Jill St. John in 1990.

Deputies reopened the investigation into Wood’s death in 2011, after Davern told reporters that he lied to police during their initial investigation.

"I made some terrible decisions and mistakes," Davern told NBC News in 2011. "I did lie on a report several years ago." 

He added that he thought Wagner was responsible for Wood’s death.

Two years later, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office changed Wood’s cause of death from accidental to undetermined, citing unexplained bruising and scrapes on Wood’s body, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Officials told the newspaper that the wounds indicated she might have been assaulted before she drowned, although they emphasized that it was not clear a crime had taken place.

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