Tuesday, January 06, 2009

[Book Review] PIECES OF MY HEART by Robert Wagner


Philip Williams reviews PIECES OF MY HEART: A LIFE by Robert Wagner with Scott Eyman (Harper Entertainment, 2008)

In Pieces of My Heart, Robert Wagner, "RJ" to his friends, recounts that he first knew he wanted to be an actor when he was 12 years old. He was caddying on a Bel-Air golf course and saw a foursome composed of none other than Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and Randolph Scott. His dream came true when he became a contract player at Fox Studios in 1948.

Wagner's fascinating and entertaining account of his life and 60-year acting career is replete with dozens of recollections, stories, and memories of his time in Hollywood, where he was friends with such screen luminaries as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. He reminisces about his work in many films and on three successful television shows.

Readers may not know that, as a young man, Wagner had a four-year relationship with Barbara Stanwyck, who was twice his age, and that he later dated Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds. Because of a business deal he made with Aaron Spelling in the 1970s, he shared in the considerable profits of the hit TV show "Charlie’s Angels." To younger people, he may be much better known for his work in the popular Austin Powers movies. His dream life, though, was marred by the tragic death of the love of his life, his wife Natalie Wood, and Wagner offers his account of the circumstances of her death, the deep depression it caused him, and his ultimate resignation to it. This engrossing memoir is, in many ways, very moving and written in a very engaging style.

Philip Williams, Cordova Branch Library

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I read this book and loved it!
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