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Pieces of My Heart: A Life
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Product Description

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 na?ve 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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Pieces of his publicy releases
    I was very interested in RJ Wagner's life story, as he certainly was around a lot of interesting people at an interesting time, and of course was on the spot for one of the great Hollywood tragedies. He played mostly supporting roles in movies, and found his feet as a leading man on television, and starred on several popular series. This book was disappointing though, as it failed to give more than superficial observations and rather mushy sentiments. He starts by describing his early life growing up, and admits to wealth and privilege, but claims his father was abusive (spanking him when he misbehaved) and both parents neglectful. Because he doesn't care to go into too much detail, it's hard to sympathise- when he says that after school he only wanted to try and get into the movies, and that his father finally offered him a deal- to buy him a convertible car and pay him an allowance for a year- and that this "Wasn't a great deal" but he accepted it, it comes off as pretty spoilt & ungrateful. He tells of his early struggles to make it- commenting often on how handsome he was at that time, and rather unpleasantly, on some of the girls who "chased" him and saying that he didn't find them attractive. He starts here on what becomes the main page-fillers of the book- gushing over older, more successful men in the film industry, and describing their friendships. He makes no response or comment at all in regard to the rumours of his being secretly bisexual, although tends to comment on the sexuality of the men he comes into contact with, and always reports if they made a pass at him or not. As you read the book, it starts to get quite tiresome to hear what fabulous guys these men all were, especially as he describes their friendships with so much more enthusiasm than his romances with his wives. The only female he really seems to get excited about is Barbara Stanwyck, who he had a romance with when he was first starting in films.
    As the book progresses, he casts no light on the dramatic big argument which broke up his first marriage to Natalie Wood. Several biographies agree that she became so upset that night that she crushed a glass in her hand and ran from the house they shared to her parents house in hysterics. He doesn't deny this, but just describes it as "they got into an argument". As far as her death goes- he pretty much reiterates the statement he made to the police at the time, and doesn't add much other detail. He admits they had been drinking and arguing- even to smashing a wine bottle on the table during the argument, but his fallback position is: "I wasn't there; I don't know what happened; no one will ever know." This is frustrating, because of course he was there- he was RIGHT there on the spot. But he's certainly not adding any more information now. He doesn't say much about not wanting to call the Coast Guard immediately after he found Natalie missing from their boat- just says they looked around themselves and didn't call the Coast Guard until later. Apparently his family lawyer "made him promise" never ever to make any press statements about the incident and that he agreed, and is glad he did. After the whole thing happened, he returned home- instead of going straight home he visited his psychiatrist to "ask him how to break the news to the children". He got some good advice on this, apparently, but by the time he got home the children had already heard the news from the television. He prefers to dwell, not on the incident itself, but on the terrible depression and grieving time he went through afterwards. I thought it was strange that he speaks bitterly of "famous women" who came to visit him when he was grieving- "uninvited" and bringing gifts of food. He suggests they were trying to snap him up now that he was single again, and that it was a "disconcerting display" and "so disrespectful". He didn't seem to bear this in mind when he hooked up with Jill St. John soon afterwards, though. I know this seems like a very negative review of the book, but it's a frustrating read- no new information about his marriage, although there are still unanswered questions there. Over the top gushing about the big stars and discussion of what good friends they are- he has a tendency to dislike the wives of his good male buddies, and is rather waspish about them. Moments of sickly sentimentality- references to things "filling his soul" or "souls rushing by him" the "beautiful confirmation of life" - he describes a favourite dog as being "the blood of my heart, embodying joy as well as a nobility of spirit and form". In fact, he has bought four plots in a cemetery in Aspen for him, his wife, his dog, and "any of the children who'd like to be buried there". How would that work? His daughters packed into one grave together while the dog has it's own? I didn't think you were allowed to have dogs and people buried in graveyards together, but maybe it's different in America. He WILL make sure to repeat every single compliment that anyone famous has paid him, and uses the book as a platform to be critical of various people he feels have let him down. It comes off as if he never put pen to paper for a second, and that he just taped a series of anecdotes and sent them off to the ghost writer, then expanded on request. Most of the really interesting stuff he has already talked about in interviews, so there's nothing mind-blowing here. For the dedicated RJ Wagner fans only. ...more info
  • Great book on this handsome star
    This book shows a star who is handsome and somewhat self-possessed, but interesting reading reflecting his vast experience shortly after the Golden Era of movies. Good read....more info
  • wonderful book..easy read
    book was very easy to read and provided great info on robert wagner (heart throb). ...more info
  • Pieces of my Past
    As a young teenager, I had pictures of my favorite movies stars on my wall and two of them were Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. Now, as a grandmother, I was delighted when Pieces of My Heart was published and was not disappointed. Even though I grew away from young crushes, I was devastated when Natalie Wood died and continued to follow Robert Wagner's career. As a family, he has given us much enjoyment with his television programs.

    Mr. Wagner's insight of the movie business and his obsession to keep learning tells a lot about his character. I want to thank him for a very enjoyable read, and I'm glad he seems content and happy with his life....more info
  • My Review
    I am not one to spend much time watching Entertainment Tonight, it is too slick and almost The Enquirer in nature. I grew up, however, with the stars that included Robert Wagner, and Natalie Wood, Fred Astaire, Gable, and Grant. Reading about their more human side in this book was pleasurable reading, and a learning experience. It is certainly a book I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the Hollywood folks of the 60s through the 80s.

    The author lays to rest the conjecture around the death of Natalie Wood, with all the horrible things that were said about it at that time.
    Mr. Wagner was brave beyond belief in keeping himself together and getting on with living, and loving again....more info
  • Pieces of My Heart
    Enjoyed this book very much. Well written. Recommend the book to everyone that enjoys Robert Wagner films and TV roles....more info
    GOOD READ...more info
  • Robert Wagner - His Loves and Life
    I bought this book after seeing Robert Wagner promoting it on TV and must say it was worth the read. I was a long time fan of Wagner and Natalie Wood, so I wanted to get his take on the tragedy after reading other more scurrilous accounts. I found his account very moving. I was very surprised to read about his romance with Barbara Stanwyck and his take on the Hollywood scene (not always favorable either). His style is a very easy read and I finished the book in no time, and really wanted more. I highly suggest this to anyone who remembers tbe old Hollywood and movie studios....more info
  • Mother-In-law adored it!
    I bought this for my Mother-In-Law for X-mas, it was her one request. I gave her a hard time because she HATES to read! But guess what, she actually read it cover to cover and LOVED it! She mentioned that it was because she loves Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood and was very interested in the story. So I guess that helps....more info
  • Pieces of my Heart - Robert Wagner
    A book well worth reading. I have always been a fan of R. J. and Natalie Wood. Theirs was a star-crossed love story, but it seems that he is now happy with Jill St. John and all their children approve....more info
  • Well done, Mr. Wagner
    Well done, Mr. Wagner.
    I really enjoyed reading this wonderful book. His feelings about Natalie, his passion for Hollywood and his wonderful and touching sense of loyalty for his friends, really surprised me. I almost cried reading about the first time he and Natalie split up, the way he cried for days, months. A wonderful book, really well written, a honest and enjoyable story of Robert Wagner incredible life. Thank you Mr. Wagner for your sincerity. Well done....more info
  • Too much
    The language is atrocious.
    More info than anyone needs to know.
    He's handsome & a talented actor. He should take a lesson from the "old hollywood" he admired so much - - maintain your image and don't kiss & tell. too bad :( ...more info
  • When God made "RJ" we the world benefited greatly.....
    I read the book in ten hours and two minutes. I tried but i couldn't put it down I had to read more and more til the end. I laughed and i cried
    The candidness of his life growing up and the Hollywood system in years
    gone by truly brought me to tears. To tell it with such sensitivity and
    honesty. Robert Wagner is the kind of friend or relative anyone would want in their lives. As the saying goes..."You can't pick your relatives
    but you sure can pick your friends"... Now we all have a best bud! "RJ"
    & Larry.. Thanks for letting us into your life and into your heartbreaking
    moments with such style and Grace and truly telling it like it was.take care....more info
  • Interesting but dissapointing
    I had adored Robert Wagner in It takes a thief when I was a little girl and never missed Hart to Hart when I got older. I thought Robert Wagner was wonderful and was so very sad when his wife Natalie died. His book is very good regarding growing up and how he got into the acting business. I admired the relationships he had with his mentors and how they influenced him. I was disappointed however in how he jumped from bed to bed, I would not be surprised if he got multiple sexually transmitted diseases. I was sad to hear that he was unfaithful to his second wife and how he drank so much. What really shocked me was that all the years he worked with Stepanie Powers and made Hart to Hart, and when they wanted to do another special of the show, she had a play to do and was not available and he was so angry with her he chose to never work with her again. It seemed very shallow. I was dissapointed in his arrogance and ego(for example regarding Elizabeth Taylor). I was also surprised by much of the crude and unncessary language in the book as well....more info
  • RJ gets it right!
    This is a wonderful way to hear about Rj's life. His voice is known to so many, and his story has everything in it. Love, laughs, tragedy. This man is such an important part of Hollywood, and I'm so glad he's finally come out with his story and that he's such a lucky guy to spend the past 20+ years with one of the world's great beauties, Jill St. John. I recommend this CD to anyone who wants to enjoy a life well lived. ...more info
  • Pieces of My Heart
    So well written and excellent pictures. This book brings back so many memories of a time when life was so much simpler. Wagner tells it all and many will probably be surprised at the Hollywood "goings on". Wagner comes across as a very kind and loving man who was loved by all of his friends; as well as he loved each of them. If you were born in the 30's or 40', this is a must read!...more info
  • RJ has my heart
    I have been in love with Robert Wagner since I was 10 years old. I was so excited when I heard he had written a book, that I bought the tape and the book. I read the book and then I let RJ tell me his life story. I listen to it in the car and it is like he is sitting next to me telling me stories. His stories aren't mean spirited, they are real. If he liked someone- he tells you but if he didn't like them- he doesn't pull any punches. The story about his argument with Tony Curtis about Janet Leigh is a perfect example of the type of person I wanted him to be. He tells an honest and loving story about all the women he has loved and the men that took the place of father that was cold. I loved RJ when I was ten and I love him even more - now that I know he is the person I wanted him to be since I was ten and turned on the tv and saw him as Alexander Mundy on It Takes a Thief. Great book - excellent read....more info
  • Great book!!
    I enjoyed this book immensely. I've always loved Robert Wagner and he's done a great job telling his story....more info
  • Good Reading
    This book was well worth the money and time. I pre-ordered it from Amazon and read it as soon as I got it. This is one of those books I had trouble putting down. More than once I read way too late into the night.

    Wagner writes about other celebrities he knew either intimately or casually. I was surprised to read that he thought the Laurence Olivier/Joan Plowright marriage wasn't that great. I've never read that anywhere else. I've read plenty about the Olivier/Vivien Leigh marriage and what went wrong there. Wagner and Natalie Wood invited the Oliviers to sail on their yacht "Splendour" and Wagner had some opinions of how Joan Plowright treated Olivier.

    It was interesting to finally read Robert Wagner's account of when Natalie tragically drowned off Catalina. Wagner stated that he always loved going to Catalina from the time he was a young guy, but after Natalie drowned he has never returned.

    I wish Robert Wagner only the very best and I am glad he found a beautiful, good woman in Jill St. John, to be by his side.
    ...more info
  • Pieces of my Heart - Robert Wagner
    A book well worth reading. I have always been a fan of R. J. and Natalie Wood. Theirs was a star-crossed love story, but it seems that he is now happy with Jill St. John and all their children approve....more info
  • A charmed life
    Robert Wagner's memoir is full of stories about his many movies (The Mountain) and TV shows (Hart to Hart), his lovers and friends, and, of course, his years with Natalie Wood. Wagner seems to be in real life much like the characters he's played - charming, suave, confident, and romantic; that winning personality combined with his ever-youthful and handsome good looks have made him a star for fifty years.

    We learn about his decades-long friendships with megastars like David Niven and his love affairs with a bevy of actresses, including Barbara Stanwyck, his devotion to wife Natalie and later serenity with current wife Jill St. John. It's a fast, fun read about old Hollywood; I couldn't put it down. The book contains many movie and personal photos. ...more info
  • A Very Well-Named Book
    RJ, as he prefers to be called, has had it all: good looks, a long and successful career, an amazing love life, and appreciative children. Writing now in his late 70s, he lives to tell the tale . . .

    RJ began his career as a part of the famed movie studio system, and it served him well. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be an actor, spurred on by being a golf caddy to the stars (especially Clark Gable) and despite the wishes of his critical father who wanted him to go into the family business. The system promoted him and taught him the ropes. Starting there at age 18, he was eventually able to out-earn his dad and he quickly met bevies of beautiful and talented women. His first great love was Barbara Stanwyck; he was 22 to her 45. She became his clandestine mate for four years, never able to take their relationship public. "What ultimately broke it up was the [very] fact that it couldn't go anywhere--it was a classic backstreet romance." Yet he stayed in touch with her until the end of her life, shortly after a burglar broke into her home and pistol-whipped her when she was elderly.

    Beyond a doubt, however, RJ's greatest love was Natalie Wood whom he married twice. By now, he was 27 and she was only 19 when they married for the first time. She wrote in her journal upon their engagement, "Two lonely stars with no place in the sun found their orbit--each other--and they were one." But such celestial happiness was not to last. Her career soared while his languished, and Warren Beatty enchanted her during the filming of Splendor in the Grass. So after 3? years together, they were all-too-soon divorced.

    RJ speaks fondly of his second wife, the "beautiful" Marion Marshall, but with nowhere near the passion that he reserves for Natalie (or for that matter, Barbara). Nonetheless, they had a daughter together, Katie. Yet a few nights after her birth, he and Natalie crossed paths again: "My heart stopped when I saw her. At the same time, I felt a terrible, conflicting disloyalty to Marion, who deserved a husband totally focused on her." Divorce inevitably followed, and he and Natalie were free to marry again, having their own daughter, Courtney.

    But their love had one more unhappy ending this time. After another 9 years together, they spent a fatal Thanksgiving weekend together aboard their yacht, moored off Catalina Island. Natalie's costar at the time, Christopher Walken, was their only guest after three others had cancelled. It seems that there was perhaps a little rivalry, or at least some disagreement, between RJ and him that flared after they and Natalie had all had too much to drink. She retired to bed, and RJ smashed a wine bottle on the table while arguing with Walken. What happened to Natalie in the meantime will always remain a mystery. Either she attempted to board the yacht's dinghy to escape the conflict or she tried to pull it closer into the boat to keep it from knocking against the wall of her cabin. In any event, she fell into the water and drowned.

    In the aftermath of this tragedy, RJ tried to be there for his daughters and for Natalie's daughter with Richard Gregson, Natasha. These girls had bonded in sisterhood, and RJ asked Natasha's father if he could continue to raise them together, and Gregson agreed. And then RJ married for the fourth time to Jill St. John, who rescued him from his depression after Natalie's death. He speaks of her--as her speaks of most people--in very positive terms. You come away from this book remembering less of RJ's successful acting career than you do of his love of women and relentless decency toward others. One has the sense that he must be a very nice man . . .

    ...more info
  • Pieces not integrated well but saved by Wagner's overall sweetness
    Each chapter is filled with Hollywood encounters with various celebrities but what I was hoping for was a more integrated character arc...a story of how RJ became the man he is now. Many of the names he drops become boring after awhile and one is really hungering for a deeper spiritual and emotional understanding of RJ, the man. The most real parts of the book are when he describes his falling in love with Natalie, his mother's passing,the easy comfort he shares with St. John and the hopes he has when he leaves this world.
    I agree with some other readers who were turned off by the C word as a chapter title...but that was poor judgement on the part of the editor who should understand that Wagner's "brand" is too refined to lower himself to that language. I also thought it a bit unneccesary to slight Stephanie Powers because she wished to put Hart to Hart behind her and not do any more MOWs --he had a great partnership with her at one point and should have respected her decision with grace. Certainly, his relationship with David Niven is well drawn and one can certainly see the connection between the loss of Niven's wife and Natalie. Wagner's sweetness and need to be validated is sprinkled throughout the book...he still has a need to tell us that he was well admired or liked by various celebrities. Isn't there a side to all of us that once met a celebrity and thought that they thought we were so special? (I actually caught a Hart to Hart MOW in production and got smiled at by Wagner and Powers...;) The memoir is very human and the audience he seems to speak to is not his fans but his Hollywood friends and his 3 daughters. I think he'd like to hand them a book and say, "When I'm gone...I leave this for you...". In fact, the end of the book is quite beautifully penned about the closure of his life and seems to be Wagner finally finding his own writer's voice....more info
  • Robert you are my Hart to Heart!
    I initially read this book because Robert Wagner has been one of my favorite TV stars. I faintly remember "It Takes a Thief" and loved "Switch" but was addicted to "Hart to Hart". I loved learning about his movies and his enduring love and respect for the real Titans of the industry. I remember Natalie's death like it was yesterday and gained even more respect for him and his refusal to turn it into a circus. Reading the book I now understand why. The best part of the book are his little "anecdotes" such as David Niven and the brandy snifter and Tony Curtis and he sharing the same "amazing three days" weeks apart.
    Robert Wagner is and always will be the last of the true gentlemen. One of class and breeding that made Hollywood the place it used to be.
    One aside...Kudos to the 3rd Mrs Wagner, Jill St.John, for the class she shows in going into a marriage and a family that is still grieving their wife and mother. She went in with eyes open and has come out the rarest of women; one secure enough in herself to know that she is loved and treasured because of who she is. What a perfect pair these two are! ...more info
  • Robert Wagner honestly shares his heart, his heartbreak, his struggles and his accomplishments.
    I loved it! Mr. Wagner painted a vivid picture of old Hollywood and what made it so special. He is a very lucky man, though he has suffered great tragedy in his life. I was honored that he let us into the very special world that he shared with Natalie. I was also surprised there was so much more to this man, than I could have ever imagined. From the amazing friends and lovers that he had, to the devoted father he became. The book was honest and candid and one I could not put down. There is a reason that everyone still loves to see him, whether is be on T.V or the movies. After reading his story, you'll know why! ...more info
  • Robert Wagner
    I enjoyed the audio CD very much, I'm happy that it was narrated by Robert Wagner, I would recommend it to my friends....more info
  • Love you R.J!!
    I only just finished Pieces of my Heart & I have to say that it is one of the best Hollywood memoirs I have ever read. RJ's account of his life is honest & frank & he has written a wonderfully entertaining book about his fascinating life in Hollywood. As a long time fan of Natalie Wood, I was thrilled to read RJ's account of their love for each other & it has given me such respect for him as a man that never had a terce word to say about his late wife. This book takes you to a place far away from the tabloid horrors of today & it it utterly refreshing to hear it told by RJ himself.. a lovely, lovely man & a living legend! HIGHLY recommended reading....more info
  • Pieces of my Heart
    A beautiful rendering of RJ's love for Natalie Wood and how he re-shaped his life after her tragic death....more info
  • Lived up to and beyond my expectations!
    I have always been a fan and enjoyed RJ Wagner and Natalie especially when they remarried.

    Such a tragedy for both, but glad to see that RJ has found happiness and able to enjoy life....more info
  • Robert Is So Dreamy!!!
    A big Robert Wagner fan. I love the photo on the front of the book. Of course he does not look like that now but he is still attractive. This should be a good book. ...more info
  • Pieces of my heart: A life
    I enjoyed the book very much. I found it interesting and
    rather sad in some areas. I was so pleased to read about him and how he lived. To be honest I did not remember him and was so glad that I read the book.

    I will be meeting him in person next week at a luncheon at our library as he is our guest speaker. I will be able meet him and will get his autograph on the book cover.

    I was surpised that he was born in Cleveland, OH, because that is where I lived for 54 years before moving to Florida. I am going to ask him if he was born on the eastside or the westside of Cleveland.
    Donna J. Patton ...more info