TODAY   |  November 18, 2011

Natalie Wood death probe reopened

Homicide detectives are reopening the investigation into the death of actress Natalie Wood. Did she accidentally drown during a boating trip nearly three decades ago or was it something more sinister? NBC’s George Lewis reports.

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>> speculation that her drowning was no accident. i feel pretty oh so pretty

>> reporter: pretty and talented and at the top of her career, as maria in " west side story ." natalie wood 's death at age 43 in november of 1981 from drowning shocked the world. a who's who of hollywood among the mourners at her funeral. to some friends, the tragedy didn't quite add up, because natalie wood said she had always been afraid of water.

>> i've always been terrified, still am, of water, dark water , sea water .

>> reporter: she had been boating with her husband, actor robert wagner , and with christopher walken , the co star of her last film. they were anchored off catalina island in wagner 's boat, "the splendor." wagner , three years ago.

>> we came to the conclusion that she had slipped on the swim step on the aft end of the boat and hit her head and rolled into the water. tragic, tragic night.

>> reporter: the coroner said she had been drinking several glasses of wine and may have lost her balance.

>> cause of death will be certified as accidental drowning.

>> reporter: right after her death, her lawyer tried to dampen speculation there had been some sort of foul play.

>> the facts are clear, they're uncontradicted. the important facts, and the rest, is just ghoulish nonsense.

>> reporter: but there were hints of a possible love triangle . a possible argument on-board the boat between the two men. and in a tell-all book published last year, the captain "the splendor," dennis davern said he saw wagner arguing with natalie wood on the deck of the boat. now the los angeles county sheriff 's office says it is reopening the investigation. releasing a statement saying, "recently, sheriffs homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the natalie wood / wagner drowning." a statement from robert wagner 's publicist says the wagner family fully supports the sheriff's investigation. the family added they hope this isn't a case of someone trying to make a profit off the 30th anniversary of natalie wood 's drowning. there has been no reaction from christopher walken . david?

>> george lewis in los angeles for us. thank you very