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

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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.”