Skip to content

Natalie Wood's Sister Reveals New Details About the Star's Alleged Assault

Lana Wood claims Kirk Douglas assaulted her sister in a new book.

Following her passing in 1981, Natalie Wood's name has still been tied to speculation regarding both the cause of her mysterious death and an alleged sexual assault that occurred when she was a teenager. In her new book, Natalie's sister, Lana Wood, addresses both of these topics. For years, it had been rumored that a major movie star raped Natalie when she was a teen, and it had also been rumored that the actor was the late Kirk Douglas. In Little Sister: My Investigation into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood, which was released on Nov. 9, Lana claims that the rumors are true and that Douglas did sexually assault Natalie, as reported by the New York Post.

Lana has shared what she recalls about what happened before and after the alleged assault and explained why she didn't come forward sooner. Read on to see what she has to say.

RELATED: Natalie Wood's Sister Just Shared New Details About Her Unsolved Murder.

Lana claims the assault occurred when Natalie was 17.

Natalie Wood in a portrait from 1955
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In Little Sister, Lana claims that Douglas raped Natalie when the Rebel Without a Cause star met with him in order to advance her career. She says that their mother, Maria Zakharenko, arranged the meeting in the hopes that "many doors might be thrown open for [Natalie], with just a nod of his famous, handsome head on her behalf." At the time, Natalie was around 17, while Douglas was nearly 40.

"I remember that Natalie looked especially beautiful when Mom and I dropped her off that night at the Chateau Marmont entrance," Lana writes in the book (via NBC News). "It seemed like a long time passed before Natalie got back into the car and woke me up when she slammed the door shut."

Natalie and her mother chose not to publicly accuse Douglas.

Natalie Wood in Paris in 1964
AFP via Getty Images

According to Lana, when Natalie got back to the car, "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." Lana was eight years old when this happened.

Lana claims that Natalie and Maria decided not to make the accusation public because it could ruin Natalie's career. Years later, when they were both adults, Natalie told her sister about the alleged rape.

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Rumors about an alleged assault have been around for years.

Kirk Douglas in 1952
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

In 2001, Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood by Suzanne Finstad was published. The book claims that Natalie was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, who is described as a "powerful, married movie star," according to the BBC. "I chose not to name him because I wanted people to focus on the horror and trauma to Natalie," Finstad said, as reported by the outlet. "I'm sure it was always in her psyche. When you've been raped it never really disappears, particularly when it's someone you've idolized and when your mother conspires to keep it a secret."

The rumor gained traction again in 2012 when it was brought up on a blog. When Douglas died in 2020 at age 103, Natalie's name was mentioned on social media alongside his, since it had been rumored that he was the alleged assailant.

Lana revealed why she's finally naming Douglas.

Lana Wood at The Hollywood Show in February 2018
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage via Getty Images

In an interview with Fox News, Lana said that the Me Too Movement helped her speak out about the allegation. "It was really uncomfortable," she said. "And I've never said anything about it until now. But with the #MeToo movement, I felt that women are getting the strength. They're finding the strength to say something. But, you've got to understand why it wasn't easy to say anything before. Whenever anybody came forward with a story about anybody, the first question that they're asked is 'Why did you wait so long?' Why are you saying something now?'"

Lana also said that it was hard to come forward while Douglas was still alive. "It's not anything I've ever wanted to admit," she told Fox News, "but there were so many rumors and untruths about my sister. I would get messages from [reporters] saying, 'Can't you tell us who it was?' I always said no. But I wanted to have my sister's back… No one was taking care of her with the truth. And I know she would have done the same for me."

Regarding the assault claim, Douglas' son Michael Douglas gave a statement through his publicist to The Guardian: "May they both rest in peace."

RELATED: Frank Sinatra Died Believing This Rumor About Marilyn Monroe, New Book Says.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under