Robert Wagner Opens Up About Wife Natalie Wood's Death 35 Years Later

"We were all so shattered by the loss," Wagner said.

April 13, 2016, 12:18 PM

— -- Nearly 35 years after Natalie Wood's untimely death, her husband Robert Wagner has opened up about the "shattering" loss of the beloved actress and his close bond with her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner.

"We were all so shattered by the loss, and we were hanging on to each other," Robert Wagner, now 86, told People magazine in a new interview. "My bond with Natasha is very, very intense. We've hung onto each other through the years and she means the world to me."

He continued: "They'd always been together. So Richard [Gregson], her birth father, and I sat down and came to the conclusion that we felt it was best that Natasha stay with her sisters and be raised in the environment that she'd been raised in up to that point -- to the point of Natalie leaving us."

Wood was 43 when she died on Nov. 29, 1981, while sailing off the coast of California's Catalina Island with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken. In 2013, the Los Angeles coroner's office amended Wood's cause of death to "drowning and other undetermined factors," after a new investigation determined the actress had bruises on her body that "appeared fresh and could have occurred before she entered the water." The cause of death was also changed from "accident" to "undetermined." Wagner publicly supported the new investigation and has reportedly called her death a tragic accident. Walken told Playboy magazine in 1997 that only Wood knows what happened that night, as she was alone.

Gregson Wagner, Wood's daughter with second husband Richard Gregson, was 11 when her mom died. At the time, it was decided that Robert Wagner, her stepfather, would continue to raise her and younger sister Courtney, who is Wagner's daughter with Wood. Walken told Playboy Magazine in 1997 that only Wood knows what happened that night, as she was alone.

Robert Wagner remembered the early days following Wood's death.

"You just take it moment by moment and hope that it gets better and more light comes into her life," he told People. "As an adult and as a man, I could not climb into her head. All you can do is truly love and care for them."

He added: "Natasha worked very hard on her life. She was really concerned about being happy and going on. She was trying to make her life be something."

Gregson Wagner, 45, is releasing a new fragrance called Natalie, inspired by her mother's signature scent, Jungle Gardenia.

"I think it's wonderful," Robert Wagner said. "She really has a passion for this and it's not just a venture. It's out of love and out of caring."

He continued: "Her mother was a very, very special and loving and caring person. She meant so much to Natasha. They were so close and she wants to share that."

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