Robert Wagner


Robert Wagner

Infobox Actor



imagesize = 300px
caption = Wagner in the trailer for "Broken Lance", 1954
birthname = Robert John Wagner
birthdate = birth date and age|1930|2|10
birthplace = Detroit, Michigan
spouse = Natalie Wood (1957-1962)
Marion Marshall (1963-1970)
Natalie Wood (1972-1981)
Jill St. John (1990-)
yearsactive = 1950 - present
occupation = actor, producer
awards = Best Ensemble - Method Fest Film Festival
2007 "Man in the Chair"

Robert John Wagner (born February 10, 1930) is a Golden Globe- nominated prolific American film and television actor of stage and screen, who starred in movies, soap operas and television. In his early days in Hollywood in the 1950s, he was mentored by the legendary Spencer Tracy.

Wagner starred in three popular American television series that spanned three decades: as playboy-thief-turned-secret-agent, Alexander Mundy, in "It Takes a Thief" (1968–1970), as Eddie Albert's ex-con man turned crime-fighting partner, Det. Pete T. Ryan, in the con-artist-oriented drama "Switch" (1975–1978), and as Stefanie Powers's super-rich husband and private-eye partner, Jonathan Hart, in the lighthearted crime drama "Hart to Hart" (1979–1984). In movies, Wagner is best known for his role as Number Two in the "Austin Powers" films of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He also had a recurring role as Teddy on the popular TV sitcom "Two and a Half Men".

Wagner's autobiography, "Pieces of My Heart: A Life", written with author Scott Eyman, was published on September 23, 2008.

Biography

Early career

Born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of a steel executive, [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/42/Robert-Wagner.html Robert Wagner Biography (1930-) ] ] Wagner moved with his family to Los Angeles, California, when he was seven. Wagner became an aspiring actor and was successfully employed in a variety of jobs, most prominently as a caddy for actor Clark Gable. However, it wasn't until he was dining with his family at a Beverly Hills restaurant that he was "discovered" by talent agent Henry Willson. Making his debut in "The Happy Years" (1950), he would play minor characters in several military themed films until his performance in "With a Song in My Heart" (1952) starring Susan Hayward, which would lead to a contract with 20th Century Fox.

His signing on with Fox would lead to a series of films in starring roles including "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" (1953) and "Prince Valiant" (1954) as well as smaller, although impressive performances, in "A Kiss Before Dying" (1956) and "Between Heaven and Hell" (1956).

It was during his early career that he became the protégé of veteran actor Clifton Webb, appearing with him in "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1952) and "Titanic" (1953). His performance earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in motion pictures. According to Robert Hofler in "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson", his biography of Wagner's agent Henry Willson, Wagner was the most prominent client to break with Willson after the homosexuality of Willson and his top clients, Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter became a topic of Hollywood gossip.

Personal life

Wagner's sentimental education began under the tutelage of a woman of a certain age - Barbara Stanwyck. After four years he graduated to young actresses including Joan Collins and Debbie Reynolds, eventually becoming lasting friends with both. In 1956, Wagner became involved with 18-year-old actress Natalie Wood, and was married in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 28, 1957. The marriage was celebrated in Hollywood as the most "glittering union of the 20th century". Living in a Beverly Hills home worth $150,000, the couple soon became involved in financial troubles. At Fox, Wagner's career was slowly being overtaken by newer actors such as Marlon Brando and Paul Newman while Natalie Wood's also ran into trouble as her contract with Warner Bros. was suspended for 14 months after her refusal to appear in a movie filming in England. The two would eventually file for divorce on April 27, 1962, with Natalie entering a relationship with actor Warren Beatty, who had recently broken off an engagement with Wagner's and Wood's friend Joan Collins, soon afterwards.

Wagner, reportedly distraught over the divorce, traveled to Europe and was working on "The Longest Day" (1962) when he met an old friend, actress Marion Marshall. After a brief courtship, Wagner married Marshall on July 22, 1963 and the following year had a daughter, Katie Wagner. The two divorced in 1970. Mr. Wagner maintains residences in Los Angeles, Calif. and Aspen, Colorado

Television

In 1968, Wagner made his television debut starring in his first series, "It Takes a Thief" and, after a successful two and a half seasons, his career began to rise. In this series most notably he acted with Fred Astaire, who played his father. Astaire was a long-time friend of Wagner's, who had gone to school with Astaire's eldest son, Peter. In 1972 he was cast opposite Bette Davis in the television movie "Madame Sin", which was released in foreign markets as a feature film.

By the mid-1970s, Wagner's television career was at its peak with the popular television series "Switch", opposite longtime idol Eddie Albert, where he spent a lot of time working with the veteran Academy Award-winner, on and off the set, after having been a lifelong fan of his. Hence, he returned to having a contract re-signed with Universal Studios in 1975. His third successful series was, "Hart to Hart", which co-starred his longtime friend Stefanie Powers, also created a loving bond. Before those roles, Wagner also made guest appearances in the pilot episode of "The Streets of San Francisco" and as a regular in the UK World War II drama, "Colditz". He would later be nominated for an Emmy Award for Best TV Actor for his performance in "It Takes a Thief" and for four Golden Globe awards for his role as Jonathan Hart in "Hart to Hart."

Wagner is currently pitching for a reverse mortgage company, the Senior Lending Network.

Remarriage to Natalie Wood

Despite his divorce, Wagner continued to keep in contact with Natalie Wood and, in 1971, at a chance meeting with Wood at a party given by John Houseman, the two began to resume their relationship (after her separation from British producer Richard Gregson] . Wood eventually divorced Gregson, and gaining custody of her daughter Natasha, they remarried on June 16, 1972 in a ceremony on their yacht "Splendour". Two years later, along with Katie Wagner and Natasha Gregson Wagner, the couple had a daughter Courtney Brooke.

In 1973, with his wife Natalie Wood, Wagner arranged a deal with Aaron Spelling to submit ideas for pilots to ABC, one of which resulted in the TV series "Charlie's Angels" in which Wagner and Wood shared the profits with Spelling equally. The two would later appear together in "The Affair (1973 film)", and with Sir Laurence Olivier in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (as part of the UK television series Laurence Olivier Presents). Natalie made a small cameo appearance in the pilot episode of Wagner's own television series, "Hart to Hart".

On November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood drowned after falling off their yacht "Splendour" while sailing near Catalina Island with Wagner and Christopher Walken, who was co-starring with her in the motion picture "Brainstorm". The tragic nature of Wood's death led to a generation of rumors about what transpired that night, including speculation that Wood was having an affair with Walken and was discovered by Wagner, or that Wood had walked in on a tryst between her husband and her "Brainstorm" co-star. Other outlandish rumors claim that Wagner and Walken engaged in a conspiracy to murder Wood. The rumors are rooted in the rather inexplicable behavior of Wagner, Walken and the captain of the yacht, who according to Suzanne Finstad, the author of "Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood", waited for a minimum of 90 minutes after discovering that Wood was missing to when they first called for help to find her. [ [http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/01/authors_finstad072601.htm Washingtonpost.com: Live Online ] ]

Wagner, reportedly distraught over Natalie's death, would remain unmarried for almost ten years while continuing to raise their three daughters.

After sister-in-law Lana Wood published her 1984 autobiography "Natalie: A Memoir", Wagner broke off contact with his late wife's family. She would go on to produce the television movie "The Mystery of Natalie Wood" (2004), starring Justine Waddell and Michael Weatherly as Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Lana Wood also cooperated with Finstad on her biography of Wood, which was published in 2001.

On 26 May, 1990 he married actress Jill St. John (who also made a guest star appearance in the "Hart to Hart" pilot episode). In the spring of 2000, St. John herself would become involved in an altercation with Lana Wood during a cover shoot for "Vanity Fair" featuring the actresses of the long running James Bond series. St. John and Lana co-starred in the 1971 James Bond film "Diamonds are Forever".

On September 21, 2006, he became a first time grandfather when his daughter, Katie, gave birth to a son, Riley Wagner-Lewis.

Return to film and TV

Wagner's film career received a revival after his role in the popular Mike Myers's "Austin Powers", as Dr. Evil's henchman Number 2, as well as becoming the host of Fox Movie Channel's "Hour of Stars", featuring original television episodes of "The 20th Century-Fox Hour" (1955), a series which Wagner had appeared on in his early days with the studio.

In 2007, Wagner had a role in the [BBC/AMC] series "Hustle" fourth season premiere, where he plays a crooked Texan being taken for half a million dollars. As Wagner is considered "a suave icon of American caper television, including "It Takes a Thief" and "Hart to Hart",http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/04/17/apontv.hustle.ap/index.html] Robert Glenister ("Hustle"'s fixer, Ash Morgan) commented that "to have one of the icons of that period involved is a great bonus for all of us".

Recently, Wagner played the pivotal role of President James Garfield in the comedy/horror film "Netherbeast Incorporated" (2007). The role was written with Wagner in mind. He currently appears in commercials for thE Senior Lending Network for which he serves as the spokesman.

In the April 28 and May 5, 2008, episodes of "Two and a Half" men, Wagner reprised the role of a rich suitor to the main characters' mother.

Aaron Spelling lawsuit

In June 2000, Wagner sued Aaron Spelling Productions for $20 million for breach of contract and fraud, claiming he had been cheated out of profits from the Fox television series "Beverly Hills, 90210". The dispute centered on an agreement between Wagner and the show's creator-producer Aaron Spelling.

In 1988, Wagner agreed to become involved in Spelling's television series "Angels 88", then in development, in which Spelling had agreed Wagner would receive a 7.5% gross profit for his participation, regardless of services rendered. However, when the series was initially picked up by Fox and later dropped in favor of "Beverly Hills, 90210", Wagner claimed he was entitled to the rights previously agreed upon in their 1988 agreement.

Friendship with Eddie Albert

Wagner was a loyal friend to Eddie Albert for over 40 years and said Albert was a true blessing to him. Wagner was only 8 when he first watched his future mentor in the 1938 movie "Brother Rat", and was impressed. He first worked with the seasoned actor in the 1962 movie, "The Longest Day". Later, they co-starred together in both "Switch" and "". Wagner was grief stricken when in 1985, he had heard about the loss of his mentor's wife, Margo. Margo's death had strengthened the friendship between Albert and Wagner, as the two kept in touch for the next two decades, until Albert's own death on May 26, 2005, where Wagner gave one of the eulogies.

Friendship with Stefanie Powers

Long before Wagner shared top billing with Stefanie Powers in "Hart to Hart", his friendship with the actress began in the late 1950s, when Powers was in her teens. They became close friends at that time, and have coped with the highs and the lows of each other's lives since then. Their first meeting was on the set of the movie "West Side Story" when Powers was a dancer/member of the ensemble cast, but was 'fired' before filming began due to the restrictions of employing a minor (she was under 18 at the time). Powers and Wagner met when he visited the set with his wife, Natalie Wood (who was the film's leading lady). Nine years later, Powers guest-starred alongside Wagner on his own show, "It Takes a Thief". In 1981, Wagner and Powers lost their partners. This shared bereavement cemented their already strong bond. Six years after "Hart to Hart" ended, they started touring with the play "Love Letters", taking it across the US and into Europe. Wagner and Powers appeared on British television on 1st May, 2008, on "The Graham Norton Show". The two remain close friends to this day.

Filmography

Wagner's career as a supporting player in movies was solid in the 1950s, but his film career petered out in the 1960s, and he turned to television with great success. His notable roles include:

* Pvt. Coffman in "Halls of Montezuma" (1951)
* Willie Little in "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1952)
* Tony Petrakis in "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" (1953)
* Gifford "Giff" Rogers in "Titanic" (1953)
* Joe Devereaux in "Broken Lance" (1954)
* Prince Valiant in "Prince Valiant" (1954)
* Josh Tanner in "White Feather" (1955)
* Bud Corliss in "A Kiss Before Dying" (1956)
* Sam Gifford in "Between Heaven and Hell (film)" (1956)
* Christopher Teller in "The Mountain" (1956)
* Lt. Pell in "The Hunters" (1958)
* Chad Bixby, based on Chet Baker in "All the Fine Young Cannibals" (1960)
* Lt Ed Boland in "The War Lover" (1962)
* George Lytton in "The Pink Panther" (1963)
* Allan Taggert in "Harper" (1966)
* Mike Banning in "Banning" (1967)
* Alexander Mundy in "It Takes a Thief" (1968-70)
* David Corey in "The Name of the Game (TV series)" (1970-1971)
* Dan Bigelow in "The Towering Inferno" (1974)
* Brick Pollitt in "Laurence Olivier Presents: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1976) (with then wife Natalie Wood and Laurence Olivier)
* Pete T. Ryan in "Switch" (1975–1978)
* Kevin Harrison in "" (1979)
* Jonathan Hart in "Hart to Hart" (1979-84)
* Bill Krieger in "" (1993)
* Number Two in the "Austin Powers" movies (1997, 1999, 2002)
* Tom Baxter in "Wild Things" (1998)
* Amos in "Man of Faith" (2005)
* President James Garfield in "Netherbeast Incorporated" (2007)
* Mr. Wilson in "A Dennis the Menace Christmas" (2007)

Other roles

* Flight Lieutenant/Major Phil Carrington in the BBC series Colditz (1972-1974)
* Jack Gates in "Delirious" (1991) (Uncredited)
* Guest starred as Mickey's father in "Seinfeld" episode "The Yada Yada" (1997)
* Guest starring as Jack Fairfield in "Hope & Faith" (2003)
* Guest starring in "Hollywood Homicide" (2003)
* Guest starring as Teddy, the boyfriend of Alan and Charlies' mother in "Two and a Half Men" (2007-2008)

References

External links

* [http://www.robert-wagner.com/ Official Site for Robert Wagner]
*imdb name|id=0001822|name=Robert Wagner
*tvtome person|id=37546|name=Robert Wagner
* [http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hc&cf=gen&id=1800012062&intl=us Robert Wagner] on Yahoo movies
*Articles about Robert Wagner, a Malibu resident, can be found at [http://www.malibutimes.com/shared-content/search/index.php?search=go&o=0&q=Robert+Wagner&d1=01-04-1950&d2=01-18-2008&s=relevance&r=Subject%2CAuthor%2CContent&l=20 The Malibu Times]

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title=Best Cast at the Method Fest Independent Film Festival
years=2007
for "Man in the Chair"
before=The cast of
"Debating Robert Lee"
after=The cast of
"Familiar Strangers"


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