Oooopsie. An Associated Press reporter was bamboozled by a celebrity impersonator in its recent story on the re-opening of the investigation into the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood. The reporter included in his story of the death investigation some quotes from an impersonator of actor Christopher Walken heard on a Washington D.C. sports-talk radio show.
Actress Natalie Wood disappeared from a boat in Isthmus Cove, near Catalina Island in 1981. On the boat was Wood’s husband, actor Robert Wagner, as well as actor Christopher Walken. Apparently Wagner and Woods were engaged in verbal bouts, at the very least, when night fell. Woods disappeared from the boat that night and her body was found later that next day.
Wood’s death was ruled an accidental drowning but the story recently gained some new legs when the captain of the yacht came forward with some new details on what he witnessed that fateful night. This is where the AP got a bit bollixed up.
Apparently the AP reporter heard the Christopher Walken impersonator on the radio and thought he was actually listening to the actor instead of an impersonator. The impersonator, Marc Sterne, appeared on ESPN 980’s The Sports Fix show on Friday afternoon.
“It’s not set up as real. It’s not like we’re trying to fool anybody,” ESPN 980 Program Director Chuck Sapienza said. “We say it’s the person on the air but we never believe that someone actually thinks the person’s actually there.”
During Friday’s appearance, Sheehan asked Sterne about the Wood case. Sterne, impersonating Walken, remarked: “We had a lot to drink that night. There was Sambuca. There was shouting. And then there was tragedy. And that’s all I can remember.”
The Walken impersonator added that he went to bed after reading “one of the Hardy Boys novels” and awoke to learn that Wood was dead.
The AP incorporated those comments into its story Friday afternoon, attributing them to Walken.
“It was a mistake,” AP spokesman Jack Stokes said in a statement.
The AP corrected the story removing the quotes from the impersonator about an hour after the first story appeared.
Walken has never been a suspect in the incident.