Memoir: Kirk Douglas Assaulted Teen Natalie Wood

Wood's younger sister writes that an old Hollywood rumor is true
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2021 11:55 AM CDT
Natalie Wood's Sister: Kirk Douglas Assaulted Her
A 1962 photo of Kirk Douglas.   (AP Photo/DAB, File)

When Kirk Douglas died last year, the name Natalie Wood began trending on Twitter, notes the AP. The reason? An ugly Hollywood rumor. Now, however, a new memoir by Wood's younger sister asserts that the rumor was, in fact, true: Douglas sexually assaulted Wood when he was in his late 30s and she was a teenager, writes Lana Wood in Little Sister. The AP obtained an advance copy. The allegation:

  • In 1955, the mother of budding star Natalie Wood arranged for her daughter to meet Douglas at a hotel in a bid to boost her career. When an upset Natalie Wood returned to the car, "she was very disheveled and very upset, and she and Mom started urgently whispering to each other," writes Lana Wood, who was 8 at the time. "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."

  • Lana recalls that their mother, Maria Zakharenko, told Natalie to "suck it up" because it would otherwise ruin her career. It was only when both were adults that Natalie told Lana what happened when she was brought to Douglas' suite. "He hurt me," she quotes her sister as saying. Lana promised never to discuss the alleged assault but says the rumors were so prevalent at the time of Douglas' death, she allowed herself to do so.
  • Asked to comment on the allegations, Douglas' son, Michael Douglas, said only, "May they both rest in peace."
  • The bulk of the book deals with Natalie Wood's still-mysterious death in 1981. Lana is among those who holds Robert Wagner, Natalie's husband at the time, responsible.
(More Natalie Wood stories.)

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