Pieces of My Heart

Pieces of My Heart

3.5 55
by Robert J. Wagner, Scott Eyman

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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.


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 naïve 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.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Robert J. Wagner has been active in Hollywood for more than five decades and has starred in such films as A Kiss Before Dying, The Longest Day, The Pink Panther, and, most recently, the Austin Powers movies. On television, Wagner also starred in three long-running series, It Takes a Thief (with Fred Astaire), Switch (with Eddie Albert and Sharon Gless), and Hart to Hart (with Stefanie Powers). He is currently featured on Two and a Half Men. Wagner is married to actress Jill St. John and lives in Los Angeles.

Scott Eyman is the books editor of the Palm Beach Post and the author of nine books about the movies. The Wall Street Journal called his most recent biography, Lion of Hollywood: The Life of Louis B. Mayer, "one of the five best books ever written about Hollywood." He and his wife live in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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Pieces of My Heart 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 55 reviews.
dgmaclure More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. So refreshing, I enjoyed hearing about the "old hollywood". Robert Wagner is a gentleman, not a tell every sordid detail kind of writing. I enjoyed that he spoke of details, but did not tell all just to spice up the writing. He is humorous and kind.
I would recommend the book.
Sue1225 More than 1 year ago
PIECES OF MY HEART is a WONDERFUL read. I don't think I have EVER finished a book in a day and a half, but I just couldn't put this one down. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood have always been two of my favorite actors. Wagner tells about his life and affair with Barbara Stanwick, among others, but the REAL story, is his two marriages to Natalie Wood and the story of her tragic death, coming for the first time from her husband who always loved her and always will. Their story especially in this book, is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Wagner tells of his careers in Hollywood, in such movies as "With A Song In My Heart", wonderfully playing a WWII "shell shocked" soldier opposite Susan Hayward's portrayal of singer Jane Froman, and with Bing Crosby & Debbie Reynolds in the wonderful Christmas favorite, "Say One For Me", and on television with "It Takes a Thief" and "Hart to Hart". Great read for lovers of Hollywood!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RJ spends his time talking about how "wonderful" everybody was and dropping names, along with those of whom he supposedly slept with. Too much information that I could live without. He makes a few contradictions. One being how he flat out states that Barbara Stanwyck was his first love in the book, but in numerous past interviews, he says that Natalie Wood was. Just pick one! He also tells of how long it took him before he got involved with Jill St. John. I think he said about 6 months. He stretched the truth there. It was much sooner than that. I don't think it was worth the $20 at all.
Boomergal More than 1 year ago
Boring book, poorly written. Seems to be written in a stream of consciousness. Choppy. No keen insights. Wagner is a vacuous person. This book answers why he never made it big in the movies. He got by in the business on a smile and affability. Small screen for a small talent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This celebrity autobiography has left me wondering...wondering why someone goes out of their way to tell who is gay and how many gorgeous women with whom they had sex. Is this a cover for what really happened? Robert Wagner tells who might or might not be gay and how he turned them down. Is he trying to convince me or himself? Is this why he tells story after story of the beautiful women he had sexual encounters? Do you think the general public is gullible? As for celebrity texts, pass on this one. It does not add to the history of the era or the profession.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well done R.J.! Not only how you told the story of your life but how it confirmed what I had always hoped, that you are a kind decent man who has lived his life well and with a grateful heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot of the book is about places and not being familiar with the LA area, i did not connect with what was being written about. The book needed more pictures... his recollections about the people and the parties were great
NookBookFanBG More than 1 year ago
As a lover of old movies, and their stars, this book was as much a revelation of those idols as was his personal biography. I enjoyed his memories of time spent with Spencer Tracey, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and David Niven but also how truly supportive Mr. Niven was to the loss of Natalie Wood, having suffered a similar episode in his own life. I look forward to the 2nd book I heard he wrote which is about Old Hollywood and those indomitable idols that I enjoyed so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is his attempt to make a few bucks in old age and to cover his ass about natalie's death.
-mmw- More than 1 year ago
Have followed his career since it began. It is well written and very interesting. I agree with him: he should have played the husband in Rosemary's baby!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In picking up this book, I was looking for a light read. I just couldn't stop reading it once I was past page 20. Robert Wagner's life is fascinating given that he really was brought up in old Hollywood and was one of the last Hollywood studio system actors. While I would say that he doesn't get too deep into his faults and the things he's done wrong, he doesn't just ignore them; the book is even-handed. This is especially true when talking about Natalie Woods's death.
SeriousPanda More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this autobiography. I bought it because he is of my "era" and would be talking about the movie stars and characters I would have watched in "my day". I was not disappointed. The content is not only interesting but is presented in a very readable way and I grew to like RJ as a person and not only as a pretty face as before. His coverage of Hollywood at that time seems fair and honest and revealing. Some nice people as well as rogues walked under the lights. Good escapism; good read.
asieslavida More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book. Robert Wagner is down to earth and tells it like it is. Very fine writing style and interesting to read.
obeythekitty More than 1 year ago
I can't speak to the accuracy of the information, but this is a highly entertaining view of Hollywood in the 50's. I wasn't a huge fan of Robert Wagner's, so I'd never heard of his relationship with Barbara Stanwyck, but I loved the straightforward way he described it. it's as if 50 years on, after so many of his acquaintances had died, he felt free to be honest about his life. one might quibble that the subjects weren't alive to refute his story, but it rings true with me and what I know about Hollywood in the big studio days.
bobvermont More than 1 year ago
Purchased for my wife's spry 80th birthday. It lay around for a time and I found it a fun read, browsing it from time to time. Gave it to her on "her day" -- immediately she was immersed in it. Lots of names we both recognized from the "old" movie days, including the tragic loss of his beautiful wife, Natalie, a magnificent movie actress in her own right ... and he no slouch. I didn't read it all the way through, so can't give a total impression, but surely, reminiscences galore. Summation: a fun read ... light ... keep it handy on the bedstand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having been born in 1940, I was a big fan of Robert Wagner. I found the book to be very interesting and RJ certainly enlightened us on the details of his early life and loves.My wife and I listen to Audio Books when we travel, and this one really held our interest.
Debbiesjm More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed Robert Wagner's acting, but this book was a let down. He really dwells on the "Natalie Wood" era of his life. Not much about his second or current marriage. I found the book on his life - off balance.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, just finished reading it from cover to cover. It made me laugh and cry, writing very good, highly recommend it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some very inciteful and amusing descriptions of many interesting and talented people. Who knew David Nevin was so funny in real life. Yes I really enjoyed this book.
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