Pieces of My Heart: A Life by Robert J. Wagner, with Scott Eyman
Finished: Feb. 19, 2009
First Published: Sept. 2008
Reason for Reading: I received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
I was twelve years old when my future passed in front of me.
Comments: This is Robert J. Wagner's personal memoir from his birth to 2008, when he was 78. Wagner briefly tells of his parents and then spends a small time on his childhood moving into the full story of his life at the time of his mid-teens. Wagner is one of the unfortunately few remaining from the generation that actually worked and played with the greats of the Golden Age of movies. He intimately knew the likes of Jack Warner, Bette Davis, and Fred Astaire, among many others. It is brilliant to read of these people from a first-hand account. Then of course Wagner was in his prime along with all the stars of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Wagner drops names right, left and center in this book but he refrains from "dishing dirt" on anyone. Oh, he has some colourful stories to tell but he is not vindictive to anyone, not even Warren Beatty who stole his Natalie away from him.
A wonderful read, Robert J. Wagner has lead a long and eventful life immersed in show business from the movies to the stage to TV and back again. I remember seeing him recently on Three and a Half Men and he's still a looker. Of course, everyone from my generation remembers him most from the TV show Hart to Hart and Wagner spends just the right amount of time on that period of his life. Of course, he also spends a great deal on his relationship with Natalie Wood, one of the great love stories to come from the entertainment world, and it's tragic end.
Wagner has the help of a co-author to make this a wonderfully written story. I was totally captivated. Wagner comes off more than a bit egotistical at times but then he comes off that way in person and in the characters he's played on TV, so it is somewhat expected. He does have the annoying habit of letting you know of every man he introduces that is g*y and whether they made a pass at him or not. From famous people to backstage unknowns, this is something I really wasn't interested. Do I need or even want to know if a camera guy was g*y and didn't make a pass at him? That aside a really incredible read that anyone interested in Wagner's life or just that of movies and television from the 50s to the 80s will certainly enjoy.
PS - Go to the amazon link in the title above to watch a wonderful video clip of Wagner's thoughts on the book.