Hollywood Legend Dishes on Film's Golden Age and Star Romances
You might remember him as "Number Two" from the "Austin Powers" film series, the sitcom "Hart to Hart" or perhaps his much publicized relationship with Natalie Wood that ended so tragically. If you haven't put the pieces together by now the man is actor Robert Wagner who has starred in a cavalcade of works spanning through six decades.
Wagner, who at age 78 is living out the golden years of his life has just released a memoir titled "Pieces of my Heart: A Life" which has just reached #3 on the New York Times bestseller list.
On Thursday, Oct. 2, Wagner and his daughter Katie graced the Santa Monica Public Library with their presence to discuss the newly published book. His daughter acted as the moderator of the discussion and interviewed her father, which made for a more intimate evening with the actor.
"When I started to write it I had to go places I hadn't gone before," said Wagner. The focus in the book Wagner stressed was the mentors he had throughout his life. "That's how I got the title because so many people have helped me through the ups and downs of my life."
"This book starts out with me as a little boy, 12 years old, on a golf course," he said. Wagner then talked about seeing Clark Gable and Fred Astaire on that golf course. "I wanted to be that, I wanted to be an actor. To see them in person made such an impression on me."
In his book, Wagner revealed his secret, never before known, love affair with actress Barbara Stanwyck whom he met on the set of the movie "Titanic" released in 1953. Wagner was only 22 at the time and Stanwyck was more than twice his age at 45 years old. "Relationships with older women were not allowed and not accepted," Wagner explained. Wagner and Stanwyck, along with the people around them kept it a secret until Stanwyck eventually broke it off.
Another love story in Wagner's life was also the most challenging part for him to discuss in his book, which was his storied love affair with Actress Natalie Wood. While on a boat trip around Catalina Island an intoxicated Wood slipped and fell off their boat and drowned. "She was so loved by people around the world. When she died there was such a tremendous response," said Wagner.
"I didn't write this book because of that aspect of my life. I wanted to acknowledge the people who have made it possible for me to be where I am today."
Wagner took some time at the end of the interview to answer some questions from the audience. Most comments from the crowd were merely female fans that were in love with Wagner during their adolescence.
Wagner did declare that his favorite role in his career was Alex Mundy from the sitcom in the late '60s "It Takes a Thief" Wagner said that was the first "big hit" he had ever had.
One of the audience members looked at the cover picture of Wagner on the book jacket and said, "You look like a slob!" Wagner retorted by saying it was taken at a time when he was in a bad state emotionally. Although to Wagner's defense a majority of the audience disagreed with the critic.
Wagner also revealed that he hopes to continue working throughout the remainder of his life.
"I'm trying to get money together to make a couple of films. I have a few part offers as well. It's not like work. It's great," said Wagner.