Sunday, December 07, 2008

Robert Wagner Appearances

CBS Sunday Morning

Profile of Robert Wagner at his home in Aspen has been scheduled to air on December 14th

Book Signings

Diesel Books, Los Angeles, CA - December 11 - 7pm
Camelot Theatre, Palm Springs, CA - December 13 - 10:30am
Harbour Ridge yacht and Coutry Club, Palm City, FL - February 20, 11:30am

Monday, November 03, 2008

Live with Regis and Kelly on Tuesday

R.J. is supposed to appear on Live with Regis and Kelly tomorrow, Tuesday, November 4.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Events Promoting Pieces of My Heart

All Events Promoting Pieces of My Heart

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
07:00 AM - 09:00 AM
ABC-TV/Good Morning America

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
12:30 PM
BARNES & NOBLE
555 Fifth Ave at 46th ST New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
07:00 PM
BOOKENDS
232 E Ridgewood Ave Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
ABC Radio Satellite Tour Live

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Entertainment Tonight

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Fox and Friends, Live

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
WMYC Radio
Leonard Lopate Show

Friday, September 26, 2008
07:00 PM
BARNES & NOBLE
901 B S Coast Drive STE 150 Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Saturday, September 27, 2008
12:00 PM
VROMAN'S BOOKSTORE
695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101

Saturday, September 27, 2008
05:00 PM
BOOK SOUP
8818 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90069

Sunday, September 28, 2008
03:00 PM - 03:45 PM
WEST HOLLYWOOD BOOK FAIR
647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood Park, Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
11:35 (EST) - NBC
"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008
07:00 PM
BORDERS BOOKS AND MUSIC
9301 Tampa Avenue, Northridge, CA

Thursday, October 02, 2008
07:00 PM
SANTA MONICA PUBLIC LIBRARY
601 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401

Monday, October 6, 2008
The Rachael Ray Show (syndicated)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Robert Wagner Interviews

Robert Wagner on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC September 24, 2008

Robert Wagner on KPCC September 26, 2008

LA Times Interview

Robert Wagner shares pieces of his heart

The actor discusses Natalie Wood's death and his affair with Barbara Stanwyck in his new memoir.

By Susan King, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 24, 2008

Robert Wagner gets a bit emotional explaining how he came up with the title of the memoir he wrote with Scott Eyman, "Pieces of My Heart."

After receiving a rough manuscript of the autobiography, he recalls, he decided to read the chapter about Barbara Stanwyck to his wife, Jill St. John, and a friend. The veteran Stanwyck and Wagner had a secret four-year relationship in the 1950s when he was in his early 20s and she was in her mid-40s. "She was a wonderful woman," Wagner says. "She was such a big part of my life."

Wagner got so choked up during the reading that he couldn't finish. He says their friend commented, " 'It must be very difficult to write a book. It must be very painful.' I said, 'Yes. It's taken pieces of my heart.' That's how I got the title."

Wagner's book has plenty of stories about his stern, demanding father, his early years in Hollywood, his friendship with such legends as Spencer Tracy and David Niven -- "you couldn't ask for a better friend" -- and his career ups and downs.

The crux of "Pieces of My Heart," however, revolves around his first -- and third -- wife, Natalie Wood, who died in 1981. For the first time since her death, Wagner talks publicly about the fateful night. But there are no surprise revelations in his account; he reiterates what the coroner and police concluded: Wood's drowning was accidental.

Wagner is 78. His daughters are grown, and he's a grandfather. He remains handsome and charming.

Known as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, the actor admits he's astonished at the age range of his fans.

There are those who initially watched him as the hunky male juvenile in such 1950s films as "Prince Valiant" and "A Kiss Before Dying." A whole new generation was introduced to him in the late 1960s when he played the stylish thief Alexander Mundy in the lighthearted ABC caper series "It Takes a Thief." And then there are those who fell in love with him as the dashing crime solver Jonathan Hart in the ABC romantic mystery series "Hart to Hart" with Stefanie Powers, which aired from 1979 to 1984.

To the current generation, Wagner's the evil No. 2 in the "Austin Powers" comedies and a frequent guest on sitcoms, most recently on "Two and a Half Men."

Wagner has chosen the restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air for the interview. It is one of his favorite haunts. And he seems to be a favorite of everyone who works there. It's almost like the scene in "Hello, Dolly!" when Dolly Levi goes to Delmonico's. The chef stops by for a chat and sends over a seared tuna appetizer with his compliments. The waiters dote. One of the valets has even named his son after the actor.

Wagner has a lot of nostalgic affection for the area. As a kid, he used to caddy at the Bel-Air Country Club, where he got to know everyone -- Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby.

"There was nothing else here but the Bel-Air Hotel," he says, pointing out that the area where the pool is located was once a stable. "There were horses and trails all around. They have taken all the horses out of Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills. Everybody had horses. The center of Sunset Boulevard was a bridle path."

Wagner says it was "very difficult, very painful" to write about Wood's death.

"We were such a romantic couple, actually. The highlight of our lives was when we got back together. And then this horrible tragedy . . . good God."

Wagner and Wood first married in 1957 and divorced five years later. Both went on to marry other people -- and have children -- only to get back together and remarry in 1972. They had their daughter Courtney in 1974.

In the fall of 1981, Wood was in Raleigh, N.C., making the sci-fi film "Brainstorm" with Christopher Walken. It was the first time Wagner and Wood had been apart since their remarriage.

About a month into filming, Wagner visited the set, where he noticed he didn't have Wood's full attention. He describes Wood as being "emotionally unfaithful."

Did he think she was having an affair with Walken?

"No," Wagner says quietly. "She was involved in the picture and involved in the work . . . ."

Wagner and Wood had invited Walken to be their guest that Thanksgiving weekend on Catalina aboard their boat the Splendour. The evening of Nov. 29, the trio had dinner and drinks at Doug's Harbor Reef. They returned to the boat and continued to drink until a heated argument erupted between the two men. Wagner says it concerned how much of one's personal life should be sacrificed in pursuit of one's career; he was upset that Walken was advocating that Wood give all to her art, even at the expense of her husband and children.

Wood left to go to the master cabin's bathroom. Wagner says he and Walken eventually calmed down and said good night. When he went to bed, he says, Wood wasn't there.

It's believed the dinghy had gotten loose and Wood came up on deck to tie it up.

"I have gone over it so many millions of times with people. Nobody heard anything.

"It's in the book . . . but she had marks on her [body]. All of those things lead to the belief that she had slipped and rolled into the water, which makes a lot of sense because the boat -- when they found it, it hadn't been started and the oars were all in the same position. There was no evidence that she tried to get in it."

These days, Wagner and St. John, who have been married 18 years, live in Aspen, Colo., and keep a pied-à-terre in L.A.

He has no plans to retire from acting, though he won't be returning to his guest role as Holland Taylor's paramour on "Two and a Half Men." "I loved doing that show, but they decided to get the guest artists out of the show and go back to the original [format]," he says.

So Wagner's character was killed off on his wedding day -- suffering a heart attack after having sex with his younger lover (Jenny McCarthy) right after marrying another woman. "I was very disappointed about leaving the show, but what a way to go -- to have Jenny McCarthy make love to me in the most marvelous ways," he says with a wry smile.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

R.J. on Fox and Friends After the Show Show 9-24-08

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R.J. on Fox and Friends 9-24-08

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R.J. on GMA 9-23-08

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The life and loves of Robert 'RJ' Wagner

Robert Wagner has spent 60 of his 78 years in show business, beginning with Darryl Zanuck's 20th Century Fox and continuing through to Mike Myers' Austin Powers movies.

Along the way, he's starred in more than 60 movies and two enormously successful TV shows: It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart. You can still see him on TV on the Charlie Sheen sitcom, Two and a Half Men.

Wagner's memoir, Pieces of My Heart, is published this week. For the first time, Wagner discusses his four-year relationship with Barbara Stanwyck in the early 1950s, and his two marriages to Natalie Wood, as well as her tragic death in 1981.

Also featured in the book are Wagner's intimate friendships with Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Fred Astaire, Laurence Olivier, Elia Kazan and Peter Sellers, to mention only a few.

An interview with the man his friends and colleagues know as RJ:

Would it be fair to say that the three primary women in your life would be Barbara Stanwyck, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John?

Add one. My mother.

What did each of them give you?

My mother gave me unconditional love. She was constantly attentive to me; there was never any negative thing from my mother, ever. She was a very positive person.

Barbara gave me love and added a different direction to my life. What she gave me had nothing to do with acting or the movie business; it was a broader outlook that went beyond the movie business. She read everything, she had a very fine appreciation of art and music and life; I still have a couple of paintings she gave me, for instance. And to have a woman of her accomplishment and stature be with you was a tremendous validation.

Natalie ... Natalie was just an incredible force in my life. We were young together, discovering our places in show business together and discovering each other, all at the same time. It's rare to be in perfect sync with another human being, and that's what we had. But we were also very young, and it ended, and then years later we discovered each other again at a totally different stage of life. That time, it was even better because it was so unexpected. Because we were older and more experienced it was deeper and truer. I never took it for granted.

Jill came into my life after Natalie died and held me up. I was ripped wide open and she healed me in every way. I don't believe I would be alive today if it wasn't for her.

Why write a book now? Why not 10 years ago, or even 20?

Many people have talked to me about doing a book over the years. God knows, I've met so many fascinating people, and I think I have some insights into their lives. And I always felt I had to write something to acknowledge the people who have been so responsible for my career and my life. And those who helped put me back on my feet after Natalie died.

I felt it was right for me now. I had a hunch that if I didn't do it now, I wouldn't do it at all. It's a hard thing to do, a hard thing to address.

What was the hardest thing you had to do in the course of the book?

To be sure that my memories were correct. And to go back and relive some of those times was very difficult. I'm not speaking specifically of the tragic parts of my life, it's just difficult to go back and think about those times. So many of the people are gone. And to tell the truth, and at the same time, to try to be respectful of the people that were involved, is not always easy.

You have three daughters (Katie, Natasha and Courtney) and two of the three went into show business - was this OK with you?

I never tried to talk them out of it. I wanted Katie and Natasha to be little girls and have a normal life before they started becoming actresses. I wanted them to have the experience of being children. I didn't want them to be something different from their peers. Natalie felt the same way, and she felt it very strongly; she had been a child actress and knew what it cost. We had a lot of requests for them to get into the business, and they were interested in it, they'd been around us and the business seems like it's fun and glamorous. But we resisted that, because we definitely wanted them to have the experience and the joy of being little girls.

What did you learn about acting from making two films with Spencer Tracy?

Everything. Everything. On our first picture, Broken Lance, I played his son, and one day during a take he broke character and said he couldn't hear me. I said, "Boy that's something when I underplay you."

A few hours later it was lunch, and he called me into his dressing room and proceeded to ream me out. "You don't imagine you can underplay me, do you? What are you even thinking about things like that for? Are you thinking at all? You shouldn't be thinking about any of that, you should be thinking about playing the scene. Not about whether you're underplaying, overplaying or anything else. Concentrate on what you're going to do. The scene, that one moment, and nothing else!

"Don't learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade."

He really beat me up, but later he came up and put his arm around me and said, "How are you doing now?" and at that moment I realized he liked me. We became very close for the rest of the picture, as well as on The Mountain - where he requested me as his costar - and for the rest of his life. I've been on the board of the John Tracy Clinic for years, which was Spence's great passion, and I'm very proud to be connected with it.

Was there a project you turned down you wish you'd done; conversely, what's the part that got away?

I turned down Westworld. Michael Crichton wanted me to be in the movie, and I read the script and I didn't react to it at all. And it was a tremendous success. It was a mistake on my part. It was a big hit, and I would have made a lot of money.

As for the one that got away, there was some talk at one time of my doing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman, but that went away. I can't complain about that, because Robert Redford was sensational in the part.

The one that got away was Rosemary's Baby. Bob Evans cast me in it, but Universal wouldn't let me postpone shooting on It Takes a Thief to do the movie. I tried everything to make it work, but couldn't. Without false modesty, I think I would have been more effective than John Cassavetes, because one look at him and you know he's a minion of Satan. And I would have looked more natural with Mia (Farrow) as well.

You still work a fair amount - the Austin Powers movies, 'Two and a Half Men.'

Yeah, but the days when I pull the train are over, and I'm fine with that. When I started out in the business, the young leading men were Chuck Heston at Paramount, Jeff Hunter and Cameron Mitchell at Fox, and John Erickson at MGM, so I'm very happy to be still in the game and part of an ensemble. It's such a pleasure to work on a show like Two and a Half Men. The writing is there, the actors are there, the crew is there, and it's a smoothly running machine. You've sent a fair amount of time in Florida over the years - you shot 'Beneath the 12 Mile Reef' in Tarpon Springs and so forth.

Not just that. Natalie and I came to Stuart for our first honeymoon, where I thought it would be fun to go fishing. Well, Stuart was totally unromantic so we left very quickly, after a couple of nights. We got on a train and went to the Sherry-Netherland in New York. No fish, but a better atmosphere.

Show business has changed so radically since you got into it 60 years ago - what advice do you give young actors?

Simply that, if and when they are rejected, which they will be, it's not them. It's the producer or the director or whoever has a different concept of that character or that project. What they tell you is "'You're too short," or "too tall" or "too young" or "too old." You have to have the foundation to handle the rejections. I have literally seen actors be destroyed by constant rejection; they absorb the negativity and it changes their personalities. It takes away from you, and all any of us have is ourselves.

The many loves of RJ Wagner

From Debbie Reynolds to Anita Ekberg and Joan Collins, Wagner romanced a lot of Hollywood stars. His memories, from Pieces of My Heart:

JOAN CRAWFORD: 'She was a dynamic lover, both domineering - which you might expect - and yielding - which you might not. All in all, a memorable one-night stand.'

YVONNE DE CARLO: 'One thing led to another, and we went back to her house. Three days later, I staggered out, depleted and disheveled.'

BARBARA STANWYCK: Wagner had a four-year relationship with her. She was 45. He was 22. 'To have a woman of her beauty and accomplishment see value in me and give herself totally to me couldn't help but have a powerful impact on my psyche. Barbara was the first savior in my life.'

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: 'Some beautiful women are passive in the bedroom ... Elizabeth was not one of those women.'

When Natalie died:

'Everything went away from me'

In Pieces of My Heart, Wagner recalls the night of Wood's drowning death off Catalina Island, after she apparently slipped off their boat. Wagner says they all drank but were only tipsy, that he got into an argument with her current costar Christopher Walken and that she left to go to bed. He saw her briefly on the boat once more and never saw her again.

He recalls when he got the news from harbor master Doug Bombard:

" 'Where is she?' I asked him.

"Doug looked at me. 'She's dead, RJ.'

"My knees went out; everything went away from me. ... So many of the best times of my life had been spent in and around Catalina Island. It was always one of my favorite places on earth.

"From the day Natalie died to this, I have never gone back."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Chat with Robert Wagner

Robert Wagner was born in Detroit, but moving to Los Angeles with his family when he was 7 helped him avoid following his father into business. In Detroit in the '30s, Wagner's father sold the lacquer that was applied to the windshields of Ford cars. He also built houses in Palmer Woods. (The Wagners lived on Fairway Drive, by Detroit Golf Club.)

In Los Angeles, the elder Wagner was in the steel business, while his son caddied at the Bel-Air Country Club for film stars like Clark Gable, Randolph Scott and Fred Astaire. Gable got the youngster a screen test, which led to a career as the handsome, sensitive stud in movies like "Titanic," "With a Song in My Heart" and "A Kiss Before Dying." He jumped to TV starting in the '60s with "It Takes a Thief," and later, "Hart to Hart" with Stefanie Powers.

Wagner has written a surprisingly vulnerable autobiography, "Pieces of My Heart" (Harper Entertainment, $25.95), out this week. He describes a fractious relationship with his hard-driving businessman father, and is very frank about his romantic relationships, including a secret May-December affair with the elegant, worldly (and much older) actress Barbara Stanwyck. He was married twice to Natalie Wood; they first broke up when she became emotionally entangled with Warren Beatty. At one point, Wagner lurked outside Beatty's house with a gun, out of his mind with grief.

Wagner and Wood married a second time, in 1972, and had a daughter, Courtney. (Each had a daughter from an earlier marriage.) Then in 1981, Wood died in a tragic fall from their boat, Splendour, off Catalina Island. Because the couple and their guest, actor Christopher Walken, were drinking and arguing, the cause of Wood's death remained murky. In the book Wagner, 78, describes what he remembers, and how he and his daughters endured the loss. He married actress Jill St. John in 1990.

Do you remember much about living in Detroit?

It was a long time ago. I remember Traverse City, and all that. It was so beautiful, God, fishing and riding. I live in Colorado, and I'll go through the forest there and say, "It smells just like Michigan." I went to camp in Petoskey when I was a little boy. I have such great memories of Northern Michigan, what a beautiful place. When I come back (to Detroit), I go over there (Fairway Drive) and it's still beautiful. I saw one of my first shows at the Fisher, a Christmas play, and I was astounded.

Why did you decide to write the book?

I wanted to acknowledge the people who were so wonderful in my life and were responsible for me being here, and doing what I wanted to do. It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, how I've sustained a career. I've had a wonderful life, a wonderful family and now it's all down on paper.

How did you remember details of things that happened 30, 40 or more years ago?

I went back to phone books, I went back to my old cars. For guys, when you get your first car, it's very meaningful. You can kind of push your dates together from what cars you had.

Your relationship with Barbara Stanwyck is a surprise.

She was absolutely wonderful to me. I was so very fortunate to have that love come into my life, at that age.

You had a special bond with Spencer Tracy, with whom you made Broken Lance in 1954.

I did two pictures with Spencer Tracy, and he was wonderful to me. I was very fortunate that he put his arm around me and said I could go someplace. I was very young; I was so happy to be in the picture business, but I didn't know if I could sustain it or not. He was a major person in my life as far as that. We all need that; people need mentors.

You managed to see all the jazz greats in the '50s and '60s, including Billie Holiday.

I followed her, yes. Jimmy Rhodes was a good friend of mine, and he played for her. It was very exciting, but very sad at the end when she was in the hospital. They were treating her for pneumonia, for Christ's sake, they weren't treating her for the right thing. I think in another time, she would have survived.

When you moved from movies to TV in 1968 with It Takes a Thief, you were a pioneer. Was it hard to make that transition?

I didn't know if the transition would work. But I had a wonderful character, Alexander Mundy, who was created for me, and the public embraced me as that.

Was it hard to write about Natalie's death?

It was hard to go back there, and I wanted to get it right, as right as I could. It was a long time ago, 27 years -- can you imagine? It seems like yesterday, and I've gone over and over it in my mind a million, two million times. It was sad, and my girls, we all held on to each other. Everybody has tragedies in their life, and this was a confirmation that you can get through it, somehow. That you can put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

Did your wife, Jill St. John, really talk you out of appearing on Dancing with the Stars?

She didn't think that would be the right step -- not to be cute. That show is quite hard to do, it's not a walk in the park. I don't know if it's because of the way I dance with her (laughs), but I accepted it because she's very good with me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Robert Wagner reveals affair with Barbara Stanwyck

NEW YORK - Robert Wagner's long-awaited autobiography "Pieces of My Heart," written with Scott Eyman, is officially in book stores Tuesday. It's a terrific read: classy like Wagner and full of interesting showbiz stories and insights.

During the course of his long-distance movie career, Wagner has worked with a staggering number of iconic headliners -- such names as Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, John Ford, Sophia Loren, James Cagney, Paul Newman, Fred Astaire, Blake Edwards, Steve McQueen and Elizabeth Taylor only scratch the surface. And those he didn't work with often were good pals, making his look back on the 58 colorful years he has spent in the movie business a star-studded and fascinating tale. (Wagner's first film, at age 19, was an unbilled turn in a 1950 MGMer called "The Happy Years.")

Like the Sondheim song says, he's been through it all -- from the era of Hollywood's contract system to today's Mike Myers movies -- and he's definitely still here. Few could spin stories with the star power that's been a part of Wagner's world: Tracy, Astaire and Frank Sinatra rank particularly high with him; director Ronald Neame and a few others less so.

He also discusses for the first time the drowning death of wife Natalie Wood in 1981 and reveals something that has long been an R.J. secret: a romantic relationship with Barbara Stanwyck, who was 23 years his senior and his co-star in the 1953 Fox biggie "Titanic."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

RJ Wagner finds a piece of peace in Aspen

by

Robert Wagner and Jill St. John are probably Colorado’s most celebrated couple — and hands down the most cordial.

I’ve met Wagner on several occasions — and you aren’t gonna find a more generous guy in Aspen, where he’s lived with St. John since 1995, full-time since 2007.

Wagner’s autobiography comes out next week. “Pieces of My Heart” traces a remarkable public and private life with enough triumph and tragedy for a movie-of-the-week, and Wagner’s made plenty of those.

His life has included films (good and bad), a lot of TV (most recently “Two and a Half Men”) and a parade of women, including Barbara Stanwick (he was 22, she was 45, and I bet she chewed nails for breakfast), and Liz Taylor (“She’s so beautiful, so sweet, just a wonderful person,” he tells the NY Times in a recent interview. “It just scrambles your brains up — in a good way.”)

He married Natalie Wood twice, and hooked up with St. John after Wood’s death.

Since then, Aspen and Colorado have been focal points in his life. It’s where he finally found his peace.

Wagner and St. John live on 7 1/2 acres - in a house they built, with view of mountains and trees, but not other houses. He writes that it is here that he is at home - forever.

“When my time comes, I will be buried in Aspen, in an old cemetery that was originally laid out in the nineteenth century,” he writes at the end of his book. “A lot of children are buried there, and it’s in the middle of a glade of aspen and birch trees - very wild and overgrown. As soon as someone is laid to rest, the land is allowed to return to its natural state … It’s absolutely pure and totally peaceful.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Excerpt from 'Pieces of My Heart'

By Robert Wagner

Chapter Five

Each of the major studios was like a royal court that was in competition with the other royal courts. Each studio had a social lion who maintained a prestigious individual salon, and it wasn't necessarily the studio head. Then there were the salons that owed no special allegiance to any studio, but cherry-picked from all the elites, such as the one maintained by Bill and Edie Goetz.

At Fox, the elite circle was presided over by Clifton Webb. I worked with Clifton on Stars and Stripes Forever, a biopic about John Philip Sousa, then Titanic, and I was invited into his group. Clifton's friends included people like Noel Coward and Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder's partner, who never got much credit from anyone, especially Billy. Charlie was a kind, well-educated, very bright gay man who was fairly deep in the closet.

Clifton lived with his mother Mabelle, who was a total character, and ruled the roost. The father had left very young, and was out of the picture, if he'd ever been in it. Mabelle had opened a dance school in Indianapolis, and she and Clifton gave dancing lessons together. He teamed up with Bonnie Glass and formed a very successful duo that followed in the footsteps of Vernon and Irene Castle. I never saw Clifton dance on the stage, but people who did told me he was a magnificent talent, the equivalent of Astaire but with a fey manner that he managed to get away with. Always high style: white tie and tails. Certainly, he had a major career, starring in shows like Sunny and Irving Berlin's As Thousands Cheer.

Clifton and Mabelle were completely devoted to each other; Clifton would dance with her at parties. She was outrageous, and would order Clifton around. "We are going to sit here," she would announce, "and then we are going to move over there." Mabelle was always at the head of the table, and Clifton was very respectful of her, although he had his eccentricities as well: he had an African grey parrot he would wrap in a napkin and put in a brandy snifter at the dinner table.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Las Vegas | Africa | Indianapolis | Fox | New York | Greek | Paramount | Laura | Barbara | Titanic | Edge | Marlon Brando | Living | Vernon | Sunny | Dozen | Cheaper | Billy Wilder | Irving Berlin | Razor | Dolphin | Noel Coward | John Philip Sousa | Stripes Forever | Clifton Webb | Gary. | Auntie Mame | Mr. Belvedere | Charles Brackett | Irene Castle

It was as if they were competing to see who could be the most like Auntie Mame. They both had a larger-than-life quality, and the bond between them was very thick. Sometimes too thick. One time Noel Coward called Clifton, and Clifton was going on and on about Mabelle, as he tended to do. And Noel said, "Dear boy, if you want to talk about her, do it on your nickel."

Clifton was gay, of course, but he never made a pass at me, not that he would have. I never saw Clifton with a man; I never knew of Clifton being with a man, or having a lover.

Clifton had a very rich deal at the studio, and his house reflected it. It was Victor Fleming's old place, and Clifton had done it in a bright, comfortable style, in the mode of Billy Haines — the go-to decorator in that era. I remember at one point Clifton did the bar in a Greek style, full of things he brought back from the location of Boy on a Dolphin. The word was that Clifton earned the same money that Darryl Zanuck earned. He didn't get the stock that Darryl got, but he earned the same money. Clifton had a string of enormous successes. There was Laura, and The Razor's Edge, then Mr. Belvedere and two sequels, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Stars and Stripes Forever, and Titanic – all big hits.

I was learning that this kind of moviemaking was typical of Darryl; he never had the money that MGM or Paramount did. He couldn't buy stars, he had to make them, and if he didn't have enough stars to make a movie, he had the extraordinary ability to make the movie itself the star. Darryl had the vision to see real possibilities in an effete stage star, and to build very effective vehicles around a personality centering on asperity and waspish intelligence – hardly the stuff of mass audience entertainment then or now, but somehow Darryl and Clifton made it work.

Clifton was very social; he gave wonderful parties, so he had a lot of leverage by dint of his position as well as his commercial cachet. It was Clifton who introduced me to Noel Coward. Noel was playing Las Vegas and Clifton threw a lunch for him. Eventually, everybody else left, and I was alone with Noel. And he said, "Come and sit over here." So I went over and sat down, and he put his hand on my leg.

"Are you by any chance homosexual?" he asked.

"No, I'm not."

And he said, "Ah, what a pity." His hand came off, and that was it. After that, he couldn't have been more of a gentleman, and I always adored him.

**************

Living with Barbara, hanging around with a social set that was a generation older, I was very consciously styling myself after an earlier era and in a sense swimming against the tide, which in that era consisted of Marlon Brando and Monty Clift. But my interest in associating with people my age was no more than nominal. I wanted to see the great stars I had watched at the movies up close. I wanted to learn their secrets; I wanted to learn how they did what they did.

One day in New York, I walked into "21" with Gary Cooper and Clark Gable. The restaurant…stopped! It was like a freeze-frame in a movie. Diners froze in mid-bite, waiters froze in the midst of waiting. It was as potent a demonstration of the power of great stars as anything I've ever seen.

Clark Gable always liked me because I had caddied for him, and I had been shooting with Gary Cooper and knew his family quite well. I idolized Clark and watched every move he made; Gary I admired for being such a terrific actor, such a wonderful man.

In many ways, they were alike, in other ways they were different. Gable had been born poor, while Cooper was a judge's son from Montana who never dressed in anything but Brooks Brothers. But both of them had a way that suggested they came from the earth. Gable loved to hunt, loved to fish, loved automobiles and beautiful women. So did Coop, but offscreen he always gave the impression of being terribly chic.

Gable's personality was closer to what he played than Cooper's was, but they both read, were interested in what was going on and didn't hover around Hollywood. Neither of these men were sitting in their dressing rooms worrying about their next picture or who was up for what part. They got out of town. Coop would go to Sun Valley with Hemingway, while Clark liked his duck blinds and skeet shooting.

Beneath their likes and dislikes, they were alike in their tremendous craft. They had a way of taking the material that was written for them, much of which was very slight, and making something out of it because of the depth of their behavior. They took the material and filtered it through their own personalities. Because they were their own men, and they weren't trying to be someone else, the strength of their own characters was bestowed on the characters they played. They didn't have neuroses, or, if they did, they didn't inflict their neuroses on the audience.

That craft didn't come easily, and the self-confidence they projected was not something they were born with. I watched Coop work in a western he did for Fox called Garden of Evil. He put himself under tremendous stress when he worked; during a take his knuckles were white. But he concealed that stress magnificently; a lot of the time it looked like he wasn't really doing any acting at all. Now, here was an actor acting, and you couldn't see him acting. That is hard to do, the highest achievement in the business, and Coop never got enough credit for his ability.

Every actor's goal is to make it look like it's the first time he's ever done that scene — to make it look fresh. These men were masters of that. You were never aware of Gary Cooper acting, but he could move you to tears. As an actor, and as a man, I admired him without reservations.

Making friends with so many older actors gave me an invaluable tutorial in how to handle the paraphanalia of the business. Take, for instance, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the two women who invented and defined the trade of gossip columnists. They were both tricky, and you had to know how to play them. Moroever, although they had been around for years – Louella had started in the silent days! — they were still important because they were so widely syndicated: Louella through the Hearst syndicate, and Hedda through the Los Angeles Times syndicate.

You had to pay court to Hedda and Louella; if I had an interview with Hedda, for instance, I went to her house. I would go to the race track with Louella all the time, but you quickly learned that either of them could turn on you. One time, Hedda got upset at me over something, and it was thought necessary that I come back from Catalina and go directly to her house to get things straightened out.

Years later, when I went to Europe for four or five years and then came back, Louella was very pissed off and called me an expatriate, which was a dirty word in her vocabulary. It was as if by going to Europe I had been disloyal to Hollywood and, more importantly, her.

********************

As my star continued to rise at Fox, I came to realize that the relationship between an actor and a studio was complex, and not always in the actor's best interests. After Titanic, I was making a movie for Robert D. Webb called Beneath the 12 Mile Reef, when my co-star Terry Moore suddenly realized she was pregnant. The father was Howard Hughes. She got very weepy and told me about the situation. Obviously, she told a few other people as well, because the studio blindsided both of us by releasing a story that we were engaged! They never called, they never told me they were going to do this, it just appeared in the papers.

I was livid; for one thing, I was very involved with Barbara and called her from Tarpon Springs every night, while Terry was calling Hughes every night. Terry was also a much younger woman, and Barbara was – how to put this delicately? — not pleased about that. Beyond that, the studio was trying to railroad Terry and me into a marriage for their convenience. They evidently thought I was terribly suggestible, I would succumb to the pressure, and the resulting marriage would be great for the movie, great for my career, and, not coincidentally, great for the studio.

It was at that point that I realized the true nature of the transaction between an actor and a movie studio. Fox was very interested in me in terms of generating publicity for a movie or a series of movies. They wanted to create momentum for me as an actor, as a personality, but they had a very limited interest in what was best for me as a human being. I was looking for a home, and they were looking for a saleable commodity. It was a difficult but necessary lesson, and I'm glad I learned it early.

So everybody was in the loop but Terry and me. She was not only in tears about being pregnant, she was in tears because she was being pressured to marry somebody she didn't love. And I started getting congratulatory telegrams from people about my impending marriage!

There was nothing to do but be blunt. I told Harry Brand there was no chance of my marrying Terry, not then, not ever. Fox never actually retracted the stories so much as they let them dry up.

Being part of events like this, as well as witnessing other things, made me realize that there is no more brutal, front-runner's business in the world. The pressures can be staggering. I remember being on the set of Love is a Many Splendored Thing, and watching Jennifer Jones work. I noticed the hem of her skirt vibrating. I looked down and saw that her knees were quivering like aspen leaves. She was absolutely terrified! Over on the side, behind the big lights, I could see a pair of shoes that belonged to her husband, the great producer David O. Selznick. He was hovering, making sure that his Jennifer was all right. But it was clear that Jennifer wasn't all right, and never would be. As experiences like these began to accumulate, I began to realize that it was mandatory to have some kind of meaningful life outside the movie business.

So the marriage to Terry Moore didn't happen. For that matter, neither did the baby.

Other than that, Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef was a very positive experience. I came to admire my co-star Gilbert Roland tremendously. He had come across the Mexican border when he was a boy, accompanied only by a friend named Polo. He began in the business as an extra for $2 a day and a box lunch. He told me that in the mid-20s, he and another young extra named Clark Gable used to stand outside Musso & Frank's restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, watching the swells eat great food and dreaming of the day when they'd be able to do the same thing.

The dream came true for Gil, just as it was coming true for me, which explains why I felt such an affinity with him. The dream came true for his brother, too, who went by the name of Chico Day. Chico followed his brother to Hollywood and became probably the most respected unit manager and assistant director in the movies. He even worked for DeMille on the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments, one of the most demanding jobs ever for one of the most demanding directors ever.

Gil began his rise out of the extra ranks when he became the co-star and lover of Norma Talmadge and broke up her marriage to Joe Schenck. A few years after that, he married Constance Bennett. Gil was good in silent pictures as a dashing lover – he played Armand opposite Talmadge's Camille — but his accent limited him in talkies, although his performances in The Bullfighter and the Lady and The Bad and the Beautiful were quite good.

I admired the fact that he maintained, and for nearly 60 years – his last movie was Barbarosa, in 1982! As a man, he had immense dignity, and sustained great loyalty to his friends. He was close with Antonio Moreno practically all their lives. If Gilbert Roland was your friend, you had a man you could count on, in any situation.

Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef grossed $4 million — a very big hit. Harry Brand's publicity department claimed that I was getting more fan mail than Marilyn Monroe, although I'm not sure I believe that. I do know that during one month in 1953, I was on seven different magazine covers. My agent negotiated a new contract that bumped my salary from $350 a week to $1,250 a week.

I'm not going to pretend that there were an awful lot of negatives attached to being a young star in Hollywood. The perks are just what you might imagine them to be: every reporter wants to talk to you, and every girl wants you, not that I could indulge. Because of Barbara, I was off-limits to the girls. During the four years we were together, I had a couple of one-night stands on location, but was otherwise loyal.

When you're hot, the good times never really stop coming. Because of my friendship with Leo Durocher, I even got to work out with the New York Giants. Sal "The Barber" Maglie offered to pitch to me. Durocher took me aside and said, "Don't move; whatever you do, just don't move." It was a good thing he told me that, because Maglie's pitches were something else. Initially, the ball came right at your head, so the instinct was to duck down. The problem was that at the last second the pitch would dive down and away and catch the corner for a strike. If you ducked, the ball would nail you on the skull. I can assure you, standing in the box against him took courage, because he was authentically scary – the equivalent of Bob Gibson or Roger Clemens in a later era.

**************

One of the negatives that occurs to every actor is miscasting, which finally came to roost on my doorstep when Darryl cast me in the title role of Prince Valiant, an adaptation of Hal Foster's beautifully drawn comic strip that I had loved as a child. During the production, I was happy to be working for Henry Hathaway; I thought the picture was good, and I loved the romance of the subject matter. I was working with James Mason, another one of my favorite actors, and I thought I was sensational. I had no idea it would become for me what "Yonda lies the castle of my fadduh" was for Tony Curtis.

If I'd been paying a little more attention, I would have known something was wrong. Mainly, it was the wig. One day Dean Martin visited the set and spent ten minutes talking to me before he realized I wasn't Jane Wyman. Then I sat in the screening with the guys in the studio doing impersonations of the Singing Sword, not to mention me as Prince Valiant. And then I had to listen to jokes about the wig, which I now think made me look more like Louise Brooks than Jane Wyman. And I got upset about the ridicule, so much so that I still have a block about that movie.

But life teaches you many things, and one of them is that something good can come out of the worst experiences. I got a couple of life-long friends out of Prince Valiant ( Janet Leigh and the great cameraman Lucien Ballard) and I also got to know Sterling Hayden, who was so much more interesting as a man than, with a couple of exceptions (The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Dr. Strangelove) he was on screen. Sterling was a purist about life, with an interesting political point of view that was very much on the left. He had originally wanted to be a carpenter, and he was one of those rare guys in the movie business who genuinely didn't give a shit about the movie business.

Sterling was exceedingly well-read — his tortured autobiography called Wanderer should be required reading — and he was without question one of the most accomplished sailors I've ever seen in my life. I saw him take his twin-masted schooner and land it single-handedly at a dock in Santa Monica. He had a feather-light touch at the helm. On a boat, he was the artist he always wanted to be.

Another person I got to know well and admire about this time was Claire Trevor. I had gone to school with her sons Peter and Donald, but I really got to know Claire and her husband Milton Bren through our mutual regard for boats. Milton had begun as an agent and become very successful in real estate and home building. Because of the fortune Milton made, Claire was able to back out of the movie business, and only worked when she wanted to.

Claire was very much her own woman, and I came to admire her honesty and directness. She was a straightforward, creative human being who became a very good painter. She was also terribly underrated as an actress, as anybody who has seen her in Ford's Stagecoach or Huston's Key Largo can attest. Neither part was original – a whore with a heart of gold and a well-meaning but weak alcoholic chanteuse — but she gave each of those women a soul. No actress alive, not even Barbara Stanwyck, could have played those parts any better than Claire did. And she was able to tend her career while having a very happy marriage to Milton, and also had the complete respect of everybody in show business.

My realization about what Fox actually wanted from me, as well as getting to know well-rounded people like Sterling and Claire showed me by example how important it was to have a life outside of show business. It was a concept that would take another decade or so to ripen in my head, but I was beginning to realize that the most important parts of life didn't take place on a sound stage.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

HarperCollins Book Description

Pieces of My Heart
A Life
By Robert Wagner, Scott Eyman

Price: $25.95
On Sale: 9/23/2008
Formats: Hardcover | E-Book

In this moving memoir, Robert J. Wagner opens his heart to share the romances, the drama, and the humor of an incredible life

He grew up in Bel Air next door to a golf course that changed his life. As a young boy, he saw a foursome playing one morning featuring none other than Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Randolph Scott, and Cary Grant. Seeing these giants of the silver screen awed him and fueled his dreams of becoming a movie star. Battling a revolving door of boarding schools and a father who wanted him to forget Hollywood and join the family business, sixteen-year-old Wagner started like any naïve kid would—walking along Sunset Boulevard, hoping that a producer or director would notice him.

Under the mentorship of stars like Spencer Tracy, he would become a salaried actor in Hollywood's studio system among other hot actors of the moment such as his friends Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis. Working with studio mogul Darryl Zanuck, Wagner began to appear in a number of films alongside the most beautiful starlets—but his first love was Barbara Stanwyck, an actress twice his age. As his career blossomed, and after he separated from Stanwyck, he met the woman who would change his life forever, Natalie Wood. They fell instantly and deeply in love and stayed together until the stress of their careers—hers marching upward, his inexplicably deflating—drove them to divorce.

Trying to forget the pain, he made more movies and spent his time in Europe with the likes of Steve McQueen, Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Liz Taylor, and Joan Collins. He would meet and marry the beautiful former model and actress Marion Marshall. Together they had a daughter and made their way back to America, where he found himself at the beginning of a new era in Hollywood—the blossoming of television. Lew Wasserman and later Aaron Spelling would work with Wagner as he produced and starred in some of the most successful programs in history.

Despite his newfound success, his marriage to Marion fell apart. He looked no further than Natalie Wood, for whom he still pined. To the world's surprise, they fell in love all over again, this time more deeply and with maturity. As she settled into a domestic life, raising their own daughter, Courtney, as well as their children from previous marriages, Wagner became the sole provider, reaping the riches of television success. Their life together was cut tragically short, though, when Wood died after falling from their yacht.

For the first time, Wagner writes about that tremendously painful time. After a serious bout with depression, he finally resurfaced and eventually married Jill St. John, who helped keep his family and his fractured heart together.

With color photographs and never-before-told stories, this is a quintessentially American story of one of the great sons of Hollywood.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pieces of My Heart: A Life Due Out September 23, 2008



Audio CD


Hardcover Book

Robert Wagner - Wagner Book Reveals He 'Plotted To Kill Beatty'

Actor ROBERT WAGNER considered killing love rival WARREN BEATTY after losing wife NATALIE WOOD to the legendary lothario, he reportedly reveals in a new autobiography.

Wood and Beatty began a romance while shooting 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass together, leaving Wagner heartbroken and distraught.

According to reports, the actor confesses hatching a plan to murder Beatty in his new book Pieces of My Heart: A Life.

A publishing source tells the National Enquirer, "Wagner was ready to kill Beatty. He describes hanging around his house with a gun, hoping he would walk out so he could take a shot.

"Wracked with despair, Wagner started drinking heavily and considered suicide. He wondered if he couldn't kill Beatty, maybe he should kill himself. But an old friend pulled him out of his desolation and got him into analysis."

Wagner won Wood back, but she died in 1981 after disappearing from the actor's yacht off the California coast.

The book, due to go on sale next month (Sep08), also lifts the lid on Wagner's many love affairs, including romances with Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck and Yvonne De Carlo.

Wagner Recounts Wood's Death In New Memoir

Actor ROBERT WAGNER has recounted the tragic death of his wife NATALIE WOOD in a new autobiography.

In Pieces of My Life, the 78-year-old former Hart To Hart star describes the moment he discovered the actress was missing from the boat they were sailing on over Thanksgiving (Nov) in 1981, and his heartache when she was found dead in the ocean.

Publishing sources tell the National Enquirer that Wood disappeared while Wagner was arguing with pal Christopher Walken onboard Splendour, the star's yacht.

The insider says, "When Wagner went below, Natalie wasn't there. He went back up on the deck and the dinghy was gone. He knew she wouldn't have taken it because she was terrified of dark water and they would have heard its loud engine."

Wood's body was pulled from the water the following morning after the dinghy had been found floating and unused.

The death aroused suspicion at the time, and has never been explained. But Wagner maintains Wood died accidentally.

The source continues, "Having several decades to think about what happened, Wagner concluded that Natalie heard the dinghy banging against the side of the boat and went to re-tie it. But she slipped on the always-wet swim step and was knocked unconscious, rolling into the water.

"After Natalie's death, Wagner went to bed for eight days in a catatonic state of profound emotional pain and blamed himself."

The memoir will hit stores in the U.S. on 23 September (08).

Download the article from the National Enquirer by clicking here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hollywood stars honor Stewart

Indiana, PA threw a birthday bash for Jimmy Stewart in May, and now it was Hollywood's turn.

On Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted “A Centennial Tribute to James Stewart” at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Actor Robert Wagner, who received the Jimmy Stewart Museum's Harvey Award in 2004, hosted the evening of film clips and reflections on Stewart. Special guests included Stewart's daughter Kelly; Shirley Jones, 1998 Harvey Award winner and Stewart's co-star in “Two Rode Together” and “The Cheyenne Social Club”; Ann Rutherford, who appeared in “Land of Liberty” and “Of Human Hearts” with Stewart; Shirlee Fonda, the widow of Stewart's friend Henry Fonda; Patricia Kelly, the widow of Gene Kelly; writer, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich; and actress Charlotte Rae.
“Jimmy Stewart is one of the most iconic actors ever to come out of Hollywood and a very beloved member of the Hollywood community,” Ellen Harrington, director of exhibitions and special events for the academy, said earlier this week. “It's very important for the academy to recognize his centennial.”

Nominated for five Academy Awards, Stewart won the best actor Oscar in 1940 for his role in “The Philadelphia Story.” The academy also gave Stewart an honorary Oscar in 1985.

The academy presented the event in association with the University of California, Los Angeles Film & Television Archive. The archive organized “The Picture Starts in Heaven: James Stewart's Centennial,” weekend screenings of several of Stewart's best-known films, including “Vertigo,” “The Glenn Miller Story” and “Harvey,” that ran from May 23 to Sunday at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

According to the archive's Web site, “It's a Wonderful Life” director Frank Capra pitched the movie to Stewart with the opening “The picture starts in heaven.” The archive contains the largest collection of media materials at any American university with more than 220,000 motion picture and television titles and 27 million feet of newsreel footage.

Stewart, who died July 2, 1997, would have turned 100 on May 20.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Film Tribute

Who doesn't cry at the end of It's a Wonderful Life when the town comes together for Jimmy Stewart and sings "Auld Lang Syne"? Tonight there's a tribute program of film clips and conversation with family, friends and colleagues from Stewart's film career. It will be hosted by Robert Wagner and guests include Shirley Jones, Ann Rutherford and two of Stewart's daughters.

8 pm // Samuel Goldwyn Theatre // 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles // $3-$5.

Friday, May 23, 2008

R.J. in Palm Beach

Spending some time in Palm Beach: Hollywood icon Robert Wagner. The star of TV's Hart to Hart was checked in at The Brazilian Court and spotted Tuesday dining at Cafe Boulud.

Friday, May 16, 2008

R.J. in TV Comedy Do Not Disturb on Fox This Fall

The new comedy premiering this fall is on Fox is:
DO NOT DISTURB (working title) (Wednesdays, 9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT): DO NOT DISTURB (working title) is a hilarious workplace comedy set at one of New York City’s hottest and hippest hotels: The Inn. Named one of the Big Apple’s “10 Best Places to Stay,” The Inn is just that – the “in” place to be, with its chic décor, stylish staff and celebrity clientele. Behind the scenes, however, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic tells quite a different story. The hotel’s top-notch reputation and sophisticated look is due in large part to NEAL (Jerry O’Connell, “Crossing Jordan”) – at least in his opinion. Although The Inn’s charismatic owner R.J. (guest star Robert Wagner) takes all the credit, Neal is the egotistical, hyper-stylish, detail-oriented general manager who will do whatever it takes to keep the hotel and its employees up to his standards. RHONDA (Niecy Nash, “Reno 911!”) is the head of Human Resources who also keeps Neal’s demands in check. She’s brash, fabulous and brutally honest and runs the HR department from her bullpen downstairs with a set of rules that are all her own. Rhonda does her best to keep the back of the house in line and the front of the house out of trouble. At the front desk handling check-in while wearing 6-inch Manolos is NICOLE (Molly Stanton, “Twins”), an aging model who is svelte, cynical and slightly starving. Fresh from Nebraska is JASON (Brando Eaton, “Zoey 101”), the naïve bellman who would prefer to work behind-the-scenes, but was hired to show off his chiseled face and perfect pecs at the front of the hotel. The downstairs staff includes MOLLY (Jolene Purdy, “Donnie Darko”), a reservations clerk who dreams of pop-singer stardom as much as she craves to be part of the action upstairs; and LARRY (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “The Class”), the head of housekeeping who spends more time on the phone cleaning up his messes at home than he does cleaning up after the guests upstairs.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television; Reveille, LLC; Principato-Young Productions
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Abraham Higginbotham, Howard Owens, Carolyn Bernstein, Paul Young, Peter Principato, Brian Dobbins
WRITER: Abraham Higginbotham
DIRECTOR: Jason Bateman
CAST: Jerry O’Connell as Neal, Niecy Nash as Rhonda, Molly Stanton as Nicole, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Larry, Brando Eaton as Jason, Jolene Purdy as Molly
GUEST STAR: Robert Wagner as R.J.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two and a Half Men

Robert Wagner will be in a new episode of Two and a Half Men on April
28th.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update

This year, on Feb. 10, RJ's 78th birthday, Jill brought all of the family to their house in Aspen for the celebration -- which included the apple of RJ's eye, grandson of 14 months, Riley Wagner-Lewis , son of daughter Katie and husband Leif Lewis. RJ returns for more segments this season in the "Two and a Half Men" series. "I just love it," says Wagner. "It is the highlight of my career" -- which is saying a lot since his career include hundreds of TV shows ("Hart to Hart") as well as bigscreen comedies such as two "Austin Powers." Today, Wagner is readying to start 20th-Fox cable's "Pretty & Handsome" with Ryan Murphy. And he's prepping to produce two features: "The Nick of Time," by Ted Bell, a children's story, and another with producers Bob Papazian and Jim Hirsch, "Gone to Wichita" a contemporary Western. RJ acknowledges getting a film launched today as compared to the halcyon days of Hollywood is not easy. "Back then," he recalled, "I shook hands with people -- and we had a deal.")

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Attn: British H2H Fans

Hi Meredy,

I'm Dave - I work for So television in London. We're making the Graham Norton show and we're looking for Hart to Hart fans to come and join our audience for the programme. Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers will be Graham's guests on Wednesday the 30th of April in London. If anyone is interested in being in our audience we would love them to e mail me at davec@sotelevision.co.uk or call me on 02079602046.

Would you be able to advise me where would be a good place to find fans of the show in Britain?

Thanks,
Dave

Dave Coulson | Researcher
The Graham Norton Show
t: 02079602046
e: DaveC@sotelevision.co.uk
So Television, 18 Hatfields, London, SE1 8GN

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sinatra event proves smash again



Fundraiser garners about $500,000 for children's center

Just as it did 20 years ago, the Frank Sinatra Countrywide Celebrity Invitation continued - come rain or come shine - this weekend.

Golfers played Friday at Indian Wells Country Club in rainy weather, but finished Saturday with everything shining brightly.

The fundraiser for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center netted about $500,000 from the four-day event, concluding today with tours of the Rancho Mirage facility for physically/emotionally abused children.

More significantly, the revenue puts the center's endowment over its long-time goal of $20 million to safeguard its mission of making sure no child is turned away for lack of funds for years to come.

Long-time board member Helene Galen, one of a handful of board members who have been with center founder Barbara Sinatra from the start, said, "It was a dream to get $10 million" for an endowment in the early days. "Then it was a dream to get $15 million."

The celebrity field was reduced to 55 in this 20th anniversary year, down from the 79 when Liza Minnelli performed in 1991. Barbara Sinatra said that was partly to speed up play. But Sinatra board chairman Marshall Gelfand said this year's net was about the same as last year and better than the two previous years.

The celebrities were predominantly retired athletes, but friends of Frank Sinatra such as Robert Wagner, Jerry Vale, Norm Crosby and Frankie Randall also were among the 1,000 people in the Esmeralda Ballroom.

The winning celebrity golfer was actor Bill Smitrovich, noted the galleries were small Friday because of the rain, but "they were out in bigger numbers" Saturday.

Asked for highlights in the event's 20-year history, Wagner, who has played in nearly every tournament, said, "When FS was alive - all that enthusiasm."

Co-host Dick Van Dyke received a Frank Sinatra Award for his contributions, following a standing ovation just for clips of his film and TV career, and quipped, "I swear I'd come down to party with you even if there wasn't a tournament."

Besides its mission, the Sinatra event is most famous for presenting the nation's best traditional pop singers - including Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, Harry Connick Jr. and Natalie Cole just after she won a Grammy.

Minnelli made her second appearance memorable with a bravura stage presence, songs and stories.

She sang a song her mother, Judy Garland, made a standard and Frank Sinatra covered, "The Man That Got Away," and made it her own.

She then launched into "Cabaret," the song she said made her famous.

She said of Barbara Sinatra:

"What she's done with this (center) is ridiculous. And, I'm so proud to be part of this."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sinatra event is all about stars, not sports

Celebrity golf comes in several different forms.

There is what happens each year at tournaments like the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic hosted by George Lopez, where the celebrities play side-by-side with the PGA Tour pros.

Then there are events like the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where the celebrities show up for pro-am rounds, but once the professional tournament begins, the amateurs head to the sidelines.

And then there are tournaments like the Frank Sinatra Countrywide Celebrity Invitational, being played today and Saturday at Indian Wells Country Club. In the Sinatra, there are no pros, meaning the celebrities are the appeal of the tournaments.

Now in its 20th year, the Sinatra tournament has been unabashedly about star power and not about golf. Sure, the people playing in the tournament are trying to play their best to win the event's prizes. But few if any of the fans who will walk around the two Indian Wells courses the next two days will care if the team they are watching makes a birdie, a par or a triple bogey on a given hole.

What they will care about is the caliber of the celebrity in the group.

Crowd pleasers

Sure, fans can watch the celebrities at events like the Hope and the Kraft tournaments, but at the Sinatra the celebrities are free - even encouraged - to sign autographs and pose for pictures during the round. Part of that is because the pace of play is slower at the Sinatra, so there is a little more down time between holes for the celebrities and the amateur partners.

But part of the signing and the posing is the basic philosophy of the tournament. That philosophy is to be as fan-friendly and laid-back and comfortable as possible in an effort to attract a larger gallery to the tournament. That, in turn, will help to raise more money for the primary charity served by the tournament, to benefit the nonprofit Barbara Sinatra Children's Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

The celebrities in the tournament also have been consistent, many playing from the days when Frank Sinatra was still involved in the tournament or who might have a personal connection to Ol' Blue Eyes. Names like Joe Mantegna, Pat Boone, Tom Dreesen, Chad Everett and Robert Wagner have become as much a part of the tournament as the Sinatra name. And the tournament is full of former athletes, like Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, Ann Myers-Drysdale and Steve Garvey, among others.

Those celebrities and more than 40 others will be roaming Indian Wells Country Club the next two days in a celebrity golf tournament that really is about the celebrities and not really about the golf.