Acclaimed Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103. His son, Michael Douglas, confirmed the death of the movie icon in a statement released on Monday:
“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today. To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies… but to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad.”
After the news of Douglas’s death broke yesterday, many people posted tweets revisiting old but unproven allegations that the late Hollywood star was the unnamed “powerful, married movie star” who allegedly raped actress Natalie Wood when she was 16.
Wood died in November 1981 at the age of 43. She was an Oscar-nominated actress best known for starring roles in movies such as Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause, and West Side Story.
The allegations have been around for a long time. But it is entirely based on rumor, speculation, and unsubstantiated allegations. However, judging from the tweets that flooded Twitter last night after Kirk Douglas’s death was announced, many people believe the allegations.
To all those mourning Kirk Douglas: don’t ever forget what he did to Natalie Wood. May she rest in peace ❤️
— Jen (@JenRose94) February 6, 2020
I am amazed and shocked how many people are supporting, loving, missing and mourning the rapist that is Kirk Douglas. Natalie Wood deserves her justice for her horrible ordeal when she was raped by Kirk in 1955!! It saddens me how many people are unaware of this.
— Lee Mullin (@leefmullin) February 6, 2020
Reminder that Kirk Douglas subjected 16 year old Natalie Wood to a sustained and brutal rape that became an open secret in Hollywood. There’s a spot in hell waiting for him. https://t.co/Po1ZI9mNEY
— amy // ms. mcqueen (@diorhungry) February 6, 2020
If you have been wondering about the origin and the facts of the allegations, here is what you need to know.
Natalie Wood was allegedly raped at the age of 16
The allegations appeared in a biography of the actress, titled Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, by Suzanne Finstad, published in 2001.
The allegations were based primarily on the recollection of close friends and confidants of the actress.
According to Finstad’s account, Natalie Wood told a few of her closest friends that a married movie star lured her to a room and brutally raped her, causing physical injuries, when she was 16 years old in the mid-’50s (Wood was born in 1938). She was too frightened to report the crime to the police.
Natalie kept the incident a secret after the unnamed actor allegedly threatened her life if she talked about it.
Kirk Douglas is dead at 103.
Here's your friendly reminder that it has been alleged that he raped a 16 year old Natalie Wood. It was also alleged that he told her, "If you tell anyone it will be the last thing you do."
— Jane Praxis ? (@JanieGotHerGun) February 5, 2020
She reportedly continued to hate the actor, shuddered each time the actor’s name was mentioned and tried to act as if nothing happened each time they met in public.
However, Finstad’s account did not reveal or offer clues about the identity of the alleged rapist.
The allegation was once again revived in 2018 by Wood’s sister Lana Wood during an interview that was part of a 12-part podcast about Wood, titled Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood.
Wood claimed that the rape occurred at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, where Wood was invited for an audition.
An anonymous blogger alleged that Douglas was the rapist
An anonymous blog commenter made the allegation that the actor who allegedly raped Wood was Kirk Douglas on the Hollywood blog Crazy Days and Nights.
The anonymous commenter, with the screen name Himmmm, made the allegations in a series of now-deleted comments posted to the Crazy Days and Nights blog in 2012.
Many blog readers took Himmmm’s claims seriously because he was widely believed to be a Hollywood insider.
Gawker reported in an article published in 2012 that the rumor about Douglas raping Wood had been around for years before the anonymous comments on Crazy Days and Nights blog.
The website suggested, based on clues offered by the anonymous commenter, that he was Robert Downey Jr. However, Downey Jr. denied the claims that he was the commenter.
In 2018, Douglas, aged 101, appeared in a wheelchair at the Golden Globes with his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones to present the award for Best Screenplay.
The organizers took a moment to pay tribute to the veteran actor with a montage that highlighted his illustrious career spanning several decades. The audience got to their feet and gave Douglas a standing ovation when he appeared on stage with his daughter-in-law.
However, the incident generated a backlash on Twitter, with many taking to the social media platform to call out the organizers of the Golden Globes based on the rumor that he raped Wood.
Natalie Wood is a perfect example of a young actress who was abused, beaten, raped, then shamed into silence by powerful men, who threatened her career. You just gave that abuser a standing O tribute @goldenglobes. Shame on you.
— Taylore (@nymphaeals) January 8, 2018
Hollywood gives Kirk Douglas a standing ovation on a night everyone chose to wear black to protest sexual abuse and rape in their industry. Natalie Wood is rolling in her grave. #goldenglobes2018 #timesup #kirkdouglas
— GiggleStick (@chronomoogle) January 8, 2018
Despite the angry comments alleging Douglas raped Wood, the allegations against Douglas remains unsubstantiated, based largely on rumor and speculation.