Over the weekend, the news hit that Natalie Wood’s sister, Lana, publicly called out the late actor Kirk Douglas for sexually assaulting the actress when she was a teen. The allegations came from her upcoming memoir “Little Sister: My Investigation Into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood,” which tackles Natalie’s turbulent and tragic life. (She drowned in 1981 under mysterious circumstances. Lana has alleged that Natalie’s then-husband murdered her.)
Their mother had arranged a friendly meeting between Douglas, who was already an established figure then, and Natalie. The encounter was supposed to boost Natalie’s career.
“I remember that Natalie looked especially beautiful when Mom and I dropped her off that night at the Chateau Marmont entrance,” an Associated Press story quotes the book. “It seemed like a long time passed before Natalie got back into the car and woke me up when she slammed the door shut… She looked awful. She was very disheveled and very upset, and she and Mom started urgently whispering to each other. I couldn’t really hear them or make out what they were saying. Something bad had apparently happened to my sister, but whatever it was, I was apparently too young to be told about it.”
Natalie tells her sister later on what happened that night, making Lana promise not to reveal her secret. “With no one still around to protect, I’m sure she’ll forgive me for finally breaking that promise,” Lana writes.
It’s a very harrowing account, and I feel for Lana and her sorrow. However, it seems that not everyone feels the same. Go on social media and you’ll see many netizens accusing her of using this story as a cash grab to sell her book. (Full disclosure: I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning arguing with boomers online over this on the BBC Facebook page.)
In 2018, Lana went on record in a podcast about her sister’s death. She alleged that Natalie was sexually assaulted by a powerful Hollywood figure whom she did not name. She reiterated this claim in 2019 in a New York Times interview.
But even before Lana publicly recounted it, this story has long been fodder for Hollywood tabloids. In 2012, Robert Downey Jr. was somehow implicated in it, with Gawker reporting that the actor may have leaked the story to a gossip site.
While I’m not saying that you should believe the tabloids, the fact that Natalie’s sister has gone on record to accuse Douglas and that it was already a widely-circulated rumor should say something.
We live in the post-Me Too era. It costs nothing to believe women.