Lately on my travels, I’ve been reading bits of actor Robert Wagner’s autobiography, “Pieces of My Heart.” My first memories of Robert Wagner are from when I used to watch the show “Hart to Hart” with my mom, (but was probably too young to understand anything that was going on.)
The most striking difference between Robert Wagner’s memoirs and Tony Curtis’ is that Robert Wagner is simply a much more romantic guy, a gentleman even. When it comes to romance, Tony Curtis basically spends a lot of time bragging about his endless sexual conquests. He also cheated on all of his several wives, and when he talks of falling in love… it is generally reduced to a couple of paragraphs for just about every new girl he meets. He clearly just had a case of “the new girl syndrome.” Robert Wagner on the other hand devotes about 80% of his book to being in love with Natalie Wood. This includes falling in love with her, marrying her, arguing and fighting with her, moping around for years when she leaves him, finally getting her back, living happily in their second marriage and then eventually being devastated when she mysteriously drowned off Catalina Island in 1981.
I personally never really got into Natalie Wood that much. I mean I’m sure she was really wonderful and everything like everyone thought, but I just never had like an actress crush on her or saw what was so magical…. and from reading Robert Wagner’s book, all indications point to her as being a pain in the ass to deal with(although he doesn’t frame it that way or try to paint her as such…but any guy who has been around the block can read between the lines.) She dumps him when her career is riding high, leaving him in the dust. Then later when he has a new wife and re-established his life with roles in “The Pink Panther”(60’s film version) and “The Longest Day” while her career has started going downhill and her high profile romances have all fizzled out…well you get the idea.
This online account of one of their first dates is telling:
He invited her to meet him for lunch the following day. Natalie’s indifference – and Wagner’s easygoing manner – are indicated by the fact she arrived three hours late, to find him waiting patiently and still in good humour. This mellow manner won her over. She found herself accepting an invitation to an evening aboard My Lady, the first of the many boats Wagner was to buy with his cinema earnings.
Actually, forget Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story and Splendor in the Grass…the only Natalie Wood movie I ever really enjoyed was “Sex and the Single Girl” (which coincidentally starred Tony Curtis!)