Kirk Douglas raped Natalie Wood, says actress’s sister

New York – For decades, it’s been one of Hollywood’s darkest rumors: A teenage Natalie Wood was sexually assaulted by a movie star more than twice her age when she met him at a hotel in Los Angeles.

In a memoir to be published next week, Wood’s younger sister identifies the suspected shooter as Kirk Douglas.

“I remember Natalie looking especially beautiful when Mom and I dropped her off that night at the Chateau Marmont driveway,” writes Lana Wood in Little Sister, claiming that the incident occurred in the summer of 1955, around the time Natalie Wood was filming The Searchers (“More heart than I hate”). The meeting had been organized by her mother, Maria Zakharenko, who thought that “many doors could be opened for her, with just a gesture of his famous and beautiful head on her behalf,” according to Lana Wood.

“It seemed like a long time before Natalie got back in the car and woke me up by slamming the door,” she writes. “It looked horrible. She was very disheveled and very upset, and she and Mom began to whisper urgently. He couldn’t really hear them or understand what they were saying. Apparently something bad had happened to my sister, but whatever it was, apparently I was too young to be told. “

According to Lana Wood, Natalie Wood only revealed what happened when they were both adults and Natalie, after describing that she was taken to Douglas’s suite, told her sister: “And, uh … he hurt me, Lana.”

“It was like an out-of-body experience. I was terrified, confused, ”Lana Wood recalls the actress telling her. Lana, now 75 and who was about 8 when the alleged incident occurred, recalled that her sister and mother agreed that publicly accusing him would ruin Natalie’s career.

“Hold on” was Maria’s advice, according to Little Sister, largely centered on the death of Natalie Wood in 1981, when her body was found off Catalina Island in California. Authorities initially ruled that she was accidentally drowned, but that has changed after years of scrutiny and the emergence of new witnesses. Wood’s husband at the time, Robert Wagner, has been branded a person of concern – someone who is not charged with the crime but wants to be questioned – and Lana Wood is among those who hold him responsible for his death.

In her book, she remembers promising her sister that she would not include that Douglas assaulted her, but rumors were so prevalent that when the actor died in 2020 at 103, Natalie Wood’s name was trending alongside hers on Twitter . Lana Wood, whose own acting credits include “The Searchers” and the television series “Peyton Place,” believes that since her conversation with Natalie things have changed enough that she can now tell the story.

“Now that there is no one left to protect, I am sure she will forgive me for finally breaking that promise,” she wrote.

Douglas’s son, actor Michael Douglas, said in a statement issued through his publicist: “May you both rest in peace.”

Kirk Douglas, who was approaching 40 at the time of the alleged abuse, was known for films such as Spartacus (“Spartacus”), The Bad and the Beautiful (“Captives of evil”) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (“Duel of the Titans”). He was also one of the first major players to form his own production company and a prominent liberal activist widely recognized for helping to break the Cold War blacklist against suspected communists when he hired Dalton Trumbo to write. Spartacus and included his name in the 1960 premiere. Douglas and his second wife, Anne, donated millions of dollars through the Douglas Foundation which they co-founded in 1964 with the mission of “helping those who otherwise could not help themselves. ”.

Douglas received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 and the French Legion of Honor in 1985. He received an honorary Oscar in 1996, when the film academy praised him as “a creative and moral force.”

Douglas himself recognized that he was a womanizer and an unfaithful husband. Speaking to The Associated Press about Douglas in December 2016, less than a year before the #MeToo movement took hold, actress and dancer Neile Adams cheerfully said of her friend: “You couldn’t sit next to him without his hand climb up your leg ”.

In his memoir The Ragman’s Son, published in 1988, Douglas wrote briefly about Natalie Wood. He remembered driving home one night and stopping at a red light. The car door in front of him opened and “a pretty girl in a suede jacket jumped out” and ran toward him.

“Oh Mr. Douglas, could you please autograph my jacket?” He remembers her telling him. “As she did so, the woman who was driving got out and introduced her. ‘This is my daughter. She is also in the movies. Her name is Natalie Wood. ‘ That was the first time I met Natalie. I saw her many times after, before she died in that cruel accident. “

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Kirk Douglas raped Natalie Wood, says actress’s sister