'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind': Courtney relied on drugs and alcohol to numb pain of losing her mother

Wood's death left daughters Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner motherless when they were 11 and 7 respectively


                            'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind': Courtney relied on drugs and alcohol to numb pain of losing her mother
Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Wagner and Courtney Wagner (HBO)
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HBO's 'Natalie wood: What Remains Behind' celebrates the life of late Hollywood actress Natalie Wood through candid and personal accounts from her daughter, husband, and her close friends. Wood's death left daughters Natasha Gregson Wagner and Courtney Wagner motherless when they were 11 and 7 respectively. Losing a parent at such a young age can be very hard, but losing a parent that was America's sweetheart and well renowned internationally was extremely hard on the Wagner children.

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Gregson Wagner recalls in the documentary hearing on the radio about her mother's passing and feeling devastated especially at the fact that her younger sister was robbed of her chance to grow up with her mother doting on her. She also mentioned having to attend therapy sessions while trying to come to terms with her mother's death. However, it was the younger Wagner that took it hard. Wood's death took a huge toll on her second daughter, who grew up to rely on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of losing her mother at such a tender age.  

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Courtney Wagner, Natalie Wood and Natasha Gregson Wagner (HBO)

In 2012, Courtney was found in possession of cocaine and heroin, and the police took her into custody on suspicion felon drug possession, reported TMZ. She had been struggling with a long-time addiction to drugs and alcohol, a source alleged to Radar Online.  "Courtney continues her battle with prescription pills and alcohol," the insider said, explaining that she refused to seek help or admit herself to rehab "Robert doesn't know what to do! He's tried everything he can to support her sobriety." 

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The insider also claimed that Courtney's substance abuse was possibly connected with the loss of her mother as a child, and also the untimely death of her fiancé, Max Leroy, in 2005 following a motorcycle accident. "Courtney has missed her mother her entire life," said the source. "She was old enough to understand at age seven she had died, but has never truly processed what happened to her.

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She reportedly tried to commit suicide twice -- once at age 14 by slashing her wrists and, again in 1997 at age 23 with an overdose of pills.

A family portrait of the Wagner family (HBO)

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The only time Courtney ever spoke of her mother and her tragic passing was in an interview with The Times in 2004, where she said, "I don't remember very much about my mother. I do remember her laugh and the way she [smelled], and I remember her hands — things like that that made me feel close to her." 

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She also credited her father for keeping the family together, while shielding them from the unnecessary media attention around the time of their loss.  "I think that everything Dad did then ... brought us all closer together. And I always had compassion and respect for him for keeping the family together — it could easily have fallen apart."

In the documentary, Courtney Wagner keenly talks about her mother and the impact she had on her. Furthermore, her older sister spoke of Courtney's addiction and how she has come to turn things around slowly. 

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'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind' premiered on 5 May, at 9 pm on HBO Max.