Robert Wagner probably is best known for being the husband of Natalie Wood. He was born on this day in 1930 and graced the silver screen with his good looks for many years. He still appears in television shows occasionally. He was one of my very first heart throbs as a teen aged girl. He wasn’t a great actor, but he sure was handsome.
Robert was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Hazel (a telephone operator) and Robert John, Sr. (a traveling salesman for the Ford Motor Company.) He became interested in acting after high school, making his film debut in 1950 and then signing on as a contract player for Twentieth Century Fox. He took on several small movie roles as a supporting actor. He finally began to shine when he appeared in various television shows including, It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart later in his career.
In 1957, 27 year old Wagner married 19 year old Natalie Wood. They divorced in in 1962, but reconnected again in 1972 and remarried – having one child from that union. In 1981 Wood drowned in the infamous incident off the side of their yacht Splendour, named for her movie Splendour in the Grass. Natalie’s fear of death by drowning came true. Her controlling mother often caused them difficulties as well.
In a made for TV movie in 2004, called “The Mystery of Natalie Wood,” the part of Robert Wagner was played by Michael Weatherly (of NCIS & Bull fame). Wagner appeared on NCIS occasionally as Weatherly’s flamboyant father.
The mystery surrounding the death of Wagner’s wife, Natalie continues to haunt him as he was named a person of interest by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on February 1, 2018.
We may never know what happened in this case. What we do know is that Robert Wagner shared much of his life with Natalie. He was a popular actor and she was a rising star. Both on a difficult path for anyone to follow. People who are placed in the public eye or on a pedestal – are often misread or misunderstood. As for me, Robert was one of my first loves – even though it could never be.