Actress Natalie Wood, a child of Hollywood who drowned...

By VERNON SCOTT, UPI Hollywood Reporter

HOLLYWOOD -- Actress Natalie Wood, a child of Hollywood who drowned last weekend in a boating accident, was mourned Wednesday by friends and family at the same small cemetery where Marilyn Monroe was buried nearly 20 years ago.

As the services for 43-year-old actress concluded at Westwood Memorial Park, actor Robert Wagner, who married the brown-eyed movie star twice and was reportedly 'devastated' by her death, took three white lilies from a large spray on his wife's gold-colored casket and handed one to each of his daughters.


Wagner and the three girls had left their Beverly Hills mansion earlier with a police escort, the street blocked off by officers to prevent reporters from following the limousine. With the actor was his daughter by another marriage, Kate, 17; Miss Wood's daughter by another marriage, Natasha, 11; and Courtney, the Wagners' 9-year-old.

The 15-minute graveside service for Miss Wood was led by the Rev. Stephen Fitzgerald of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Virgin Mary in North Hollywood.


Russian music played in the background as individual eulogies were delivered under clear, blue skies by actor Roddy McDowall, actress Hope Lange and writer Thomas Thompson.

About 120 friends of the popular Hollywood couple attended the services, including Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson and actress Stephanie Powers.

Sir Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Gene Kelly and Robert Conrad were listed as honorary pallbearers, although all the actors could not attend. Security guards allowed only those with invitations into the cemetery, not far from the campus of UCLA, but about 50 reporters and photographers stood outside near the iron gates.

Wagner left his self-imposed isolation Wednesday to take charge of the funeral arrangements.

A close friend said the actor had become 'galvanized' after three days of deep mourning since the 43-year-old actress' death last Sunday and had personally handled all the arrangements.

Wagner had remained in seclusion in the couple's Beverly Hills mansion, refusing even to see actress Elizabeth Taylor and other close friends calling to express their sorrow.

'I think he looks on it as a bad movie that needs a retake,' said Lionel Stander, a close friend of actor's who plays the valet-chauffeur on the 'Hart to Hart' television series starring Wagner.


'He's just shattered. He'll survive, but he'll never forget this - it's ineradicable.'

Wagner's attorney said he was 'devastated with grief' and was unable to shed further light on the circumstances of Miss Wood's death after falling into the water after untying a dinghy from the Wagner's yacht.

Sheriff's Sgt. Duane Rasure said he planned to interview Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, who were allegedly arguing the night of Miss Wood's death, to find out exactly what the two men discussed -- or even whether there was an argument.

'I'm hearing all kinds of rumors,' Rasure said. 'But we don't now. In four or five days, we will have all the answers.'

A sheriff's homicide detective disputed statements by Coroner Thomas Noguchi that Wagner and Walken were arguing heatedly. Noguchi told reporters the argument between Wagner and Walken did not directly involve Miss Wood. He said it might have been the reason she left the two men aboard the yacht.

'I don't now where the coroner got that information,' said Detective Roy Hamilton. 'We talked to Wagner and Walken and there was no indication that there was any argument.

'I think he (Noguchi) was juicing it up a bit.'

Attorney Paul Ziffren said the circumstances of the actress' death required no further comment.


'This fantastic woman is gone,' he said. 'It's a tragedy and nothing we can do or say will change that. It was apparent it was an accident and I think that rumors and gossip is just ghoulish nonsense and irrelevent.'

The coroner concluded that Miss Wood's death was accidental and occurred when she slipped and fell into the water after untying the yacht's inflatable dinghy and trying to climb into it. He said the actress was legally intoxicated at the time of her death.

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