AP national writer Hillel Italie secured the first look at a memoir by Natalie Wood’s sister, breaking the story that Kirk Douglas was the man who allegedly sexually assaulted Wood.
Italie had been trying for years to get more details about the dark Hollywood secret. Wood’s younger sister Lana had dangled that she would name the person who assaulted Wood only after he was dead. Italie had a hunch Douglas was that person, but couldn't confirm it until now. Well-sourced in the publishing world, he landed a first read of Lana’s memoir naming Douglas for the assault of her sister.
Italie made sure AP would be first to break it, building in time to craft a fully formed story and give the Douglas family ample chance to respond. Actor Michael Douglas’ response did not refute Lana Wood’s claim, simply saying: “May they both rest in peace.”
The piece was a major draw — AP’s top story in reader engagement for the week. News outlets from Variety to The Times of London picked up the story with credit to AP.