For decades, it’s been one of Hollywood’s darkest rumors: teen Natalie Wood was sexually assaulted by a major movie star more than twice her age when she met him at a hotel in Los Angeles.
In a memoir appearing next week, Wood’s younger sister identifies the long-serving attacker: Kirk Douglas.
“I remember Natalie looking especially pretty when mom and I took her down that night at the entrance of Chateau Marmont,” Lana Wood writes in “Little Sister,” claiming the incident took place in the summer of 1955, around the time Natalie Wood was . filming “The Seekers”.
The meeting was arranged by their mother, Maria Zakharenko, who thought that “many doors might be thrown open for her, with only a nod of his famous, beautiful head in her name,” according to Lana Wood.
“It seemed like a long time passed before Natalie got back in the car and woke me up when she slammed the door shut,” she writes. “She looked awful. She was very messy and very upset, and she and Mom began to whisper to each other urgently. I really couldn’t hear them or understand what they were saying. Something bad seemed to have happened to my sister, but whatever it was, I was apparently too young to be told about it. “
According to Lana Wood, Natalie Wood didn’t discuss with her what happened until both were adults and Natalie, after describing being brought into Douglas’ series, said to her sister, “And, uh … he hurt me Lana.”
“It was like an out-of-body experience. I was terrified, I was confused, ”Lana Wood remembers saying. Lana, now 75 and about 8 when the alleged incident occurred, recalled that her sister and their mother agreed that it would ruin Natalie’s career to publicly accuse him.
“Suck it” was Mary’s advice, according to “Little Sister,” much of which focuses on Natalie Wood’s death in 1981, when her body was found at Catalina Island in California. Authorities initially ruled the death as an accidental drowning, but that changed after years of scrutiny and more witnesses appearing.
Wood’s husband at the time, Robert Wagner, was named a person of interest and Lana Wood is among those responsible for her death. Wagner has long denied any involvement in her death.
In her book, she remembers promising her sister not to argue that she is being attacked by Douglas, but rumors were so widespread that when he died in 2020, at the age of 103, Natalie Wood’s name tended along with his on Twitter. Lana Wood, whose own acting credits include “The Searchers” and the TV series “Peyton Place,” believes she has changed enough since her conversation with Natalie that she can now tell the whole story.
“With no one around yet to defend, I’m sure she’ll forgive me for finally breaking that promise,” she wrote.
Douglas’ son, actor Michael Douglas, said in a statement issued by his publicist, “May they both rest in peace.”
Kirk Douglas, in his late 30s during the alleged attack, was known for films such as “Spartacus”, “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Gun Fight at the OK Corral”. He was also one of the first major actors to form his own production company and a prominent liberal activist who was widely credited with helping break the Cold War blacklist against apparent communists when he hired Dalton Trump to write “Spartacus” and listed him by name. for the 1960 release. Douglas and his second wife, Anne, donated millions of dollars through the Douglas Foundation, which they co-founded in 1964, with a mission to “help those who otherwise could not help themselves.”
Douglas received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and the Legion of Honor of France in 1985. He received an honorary Oscar in 1996, when the film academy praised him as a “creative and moral force.”
Douglas himself admitted that he was a flirt and an unfaithful husband. Speaking to The Associated Press about Douglas in December 2016, less than a year before the #MeToo movement arose, actress and dancer Neile Adams cheerfully said of her friend, “You couldn’t sit next to him without his hand crawling up your leg . ”
In his memoir “The Ragman’s Son,” published in 1988, Douglas writes briefly about Natalie Wood. He remembers driving home one night and stopping at a red light. The door of the car in front of him opened and “a pretty little girl wearing a south jacket jumped out” and ran towards him.
“‘Oh, Mr. Douglas, would you please sign my jacket?’ he remembers she said. “As I compelled, the woman who was traveling came out and introduced her. – This is my daughter. She is also in movies. Her name is Natalie Wood. ‘ That was the first time I met Natalie. I saw her many times before she died in that cruel accident. ”