41. Pieces of My Heart: A Life

Pieces of My Heart: A Life by Robert J. Wagner, with Scott Eyman

Pages: 324
Finished: Feb. 19, 2009
First Published: Sept. 2008
Genre: memoir
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: I received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

First sentence:

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.


  1. Warren Beatty did NOT "steal" Natalie away from Wagner. Their marriage fell apart long before Wood and Beatty became a couple. Natalie herself wrote for her never published memoirs: "I have suffered in silence from gossip about my walking away from my marriage to go with Warren. There was gossip and speculation that Warren was in some way responsible for the end of the marriage. It is totally untrue. Warren had nothing to do with it. We began our relationship after, not before, my marriage collapsed."

  2. Well, I guess it all depends on what information you read. Who says Natalie's word is better than Robert's? There are two sides to every story. Robert Wagner admits in this biography that he doesn't know for sure one way or the other whether she was with Beatty before or after they seperated. Some of their acquaintances have said yes, others say no.

    However, Beattie and Natalie were seeing each other while she was still legally married to Wagner so imho, that's nothing to be proud of.

    Please use your name next time you post as I usually don't post comments from anonymous commenters.

  3. Excellent review. I like reading about actors that experienced or were a part of The Golden Age of Hollywood (as opposed to what I think it is now) so this was fun. And I always think it's kinda funny when anons get riled up about something sorta related but not really to the review.

  4. I remember him in Hart to Hart. I still think he's sexy, even though he's old enough to be my father. He was aq household name when I was growing up.

    Thanks for the wonderfulk review. I was wondering about this book.


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