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Pieces of My Heart: A Life

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,823 ratings  ·  214 reviews
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 scree
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by It Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,823 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Sarah Cler
Oct 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I really give this 3.5 stars.

I have a special place in my heart for Robert Wagner. I grew up watching "Hart to Hart," and then became a gigantic Natalie Wood fan when I was a teenager. Naturally, then, I had to buy his memoir as soon as it came out.

I've always thought that I'd love to sit down and have lunch with Robert Wagner; I suppose that's part of his appeal. Writing is not his strong suit - it's almost distractingly evident when his ghostwriter jumped in and doctored paragraphs and sentenc
Mar 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
I've always like Robert Wagner. But I was thoroughly disappointed in this book. I kept wondering if this was a typical "Scott Eyman" book, as he's been a co-writer of countless celebrity autobiographies. This book was a true gossip-fest, but not in a good way. I really wasn't interested in every single woman he boinked - and there were many. And I also wasn't interested in the sexual proclivities of other movie stars or RJ's opinion on whether someone was gay or bi. His description of Henry Will ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of autobiography, Hollywood history, acting, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood
Pieces Of My Heart: a Life by Robert J. Wagner with Scott Eyman

The autobiography of a well-grounded man who never lost his awe of life or the movies. He also was humble enough to allow friends to help him in his darkest hours. A man whose gentility reminds one of an earlier time. This is the story of "Pieces of My Heart: a Life" told by Robert J. Wagner. The story is candidly told with no Hollywood excess overpowering the theme. That is not to say there is nothing Hollywood about the book, how c
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best celebrity autobiographies that I've read in quite some time.

Despite may tragedies, Robert Wagner has had a wonderful life and career. He writes from his heart and comes across as what he is: a very nice, caring human being who speaks the truth.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Robert Wagner - who shares my birthday of 10th February, albeit 39 years apart - was a Hollywood kid, growing up in Bel Air next to a golf course where one day he saw Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Randolph Scott and Cary Grant walk by. Seeing his idols from the silver screen led him into acting - against his father wishes - and a career that began aged 16 as he walked down Sunset Boulevard looking for a job. Mentored by Spencer Tracy and under the wing of studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, he became a s ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, hollywood
I really enjoyed this book because I love Hollywood's Golden Age and it's always interesting to read about it form the ones who were part of it, either as witnesses of participants in it. Robert Wagner was focused and he got the career he wanted, he wanted to be in the movies. In this book he talks about his childhood, his youth and the climax of his versatile career. He started in the movies but he also did a couple of plays and made a successful transition into TV. What I enjoyed most was his ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Old Hollywood and old actors - the greats - filled Mr. Wagner's life. Interesting stories - and again, made me wonder where people who do not have our faith get their moral compass. Mr. Wagner's moral compass - though somewhat different from mine - is one of decency in the world he lives in, loyalty, honesty, hard work and he knows how to live in a real world of family and friends, nature and the beauty of the earth and appreciates and values it, and at the same time loves t ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have always admired RJ and his book did not make me change my mind one bit.
I felt that it was honest and well written and easy to read.

I learned a lot about him and his life and his family and his friends.

I loved reading the names of many of the older generation of actors and people that he knew and worked with and was friends with.

I compiled a good list of books that I want to read and have added to my TBR.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Though I found it a little conceited at first, I warmed up to this memoir. I had a hard time getting over all the name-dropping, but I realized that he really did know a lot of the Hollywood Elite and it was a way for him to remember his life, have it on paper, and for us to visit. His voice is definitely warm in this book, and it's easy to get caught up in the stories he tells. It was funny and, at times, profoundly touching - his overwhelming love of Natalie was very moving. It's a great story ...more
John Roskelley
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Robert Wagner married Natalie Wood twice. I saw "West Side Story" in early 1962 as a Freshman in college. At that time I didn't know she had been a child actress from the age of four, but her persona struck me to the extent that I tried to see all of her subsequent movies. She seemed to captivate Wagner, who was devastated when they were divorced knowing that he would forever love her. The news of her accidental death when she was just 43 was horrifying. The book covers his life as an actor--it ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-actors
I learned a lot about Robert Wagner from this book.

For example, did you know that he will be 80 in 2010? His closest friends were often those older than him -- David Niven, Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis and "Larry" Olivier!

I discovered more about his relationships, especially with Natalie Wood and her family.

The only thing missing was an index. I would have loved to turn to the index, find what I was looking for and then go retrace my steps this way instead
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Guilty Pleasure time! What I REALLY wanted to know was about Catalina, of course. All the years of "WTF?" and sort of imagining Christopher Walken standing on the yacht saying "More Cowbell!" as poor Natalie drowned. Or maybe RJ got so pissed at her and CW that he offed her, OMG I have totally been reading too much trash.

Anyway, interesting stuff if you like guilty pleasures involving actors. But RJW with Barbara Stanwyck? EEEWWW. Plus I remember her as such a bitch when she came to San Juan Cap
Kelly ...
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios-memoirs
I often enjoy celebrity memoirs; they are guilty pleasures thanks to their gossipy stories of a crazy, privileged world. Unfortunately this book wasn't one of those memoirs... this one felt like a man bragging about his exploits. It also feels like it is a written by a man who is arrogant and a braggart. There were some lovely moments: the stories about Barbara Stanwyck were heartfelt, sweet and full of respect. It felt like it was written by a man who cared about her, not by a man who wanted to ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoy well written celebrity biographies and auto biographies and this one did not disappoint. I remember the TV show "It Takes a Thief" and I loved "Hart to Hart" but I had no idea how connected RJ was to old time movie stars. A very pleasant, interesting read. I only wish it had included his appearances on NCIS.
Kym Taborn
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I enjoyed this book more than i was expecting. It covers sympathetically the women in his life. I was reading a Barbara Stanwyck bio when I read this and it did add a different dimension to my understanding of who Barbara Stanwyck was.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found the book very interesting if you are into the hollywood life...not just Robert Wagner's life but all the old silver screen stars.
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 s...moreIn this moving memoir, Robert J. Wagner opens his heart to share the romances, the drama, and the humor of an incredi
Sherri Rabinowitz
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Sherri by: birthday gift
This is my second time reading Mr. Wagner's book and I enjoyed even more the second time. I have been a fan of his since I was a child. The first time I ever saw him was in a movie called The Pink Panther. If you have never seen it I would recommend it highly. So when he talks about how he got the part and his long friendship with the amazing David Niven I was mesmerized. I have been a fan of David Niven forever as well. Who wouldn't feel that way he was such a wonderful, funny and talented man. ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I admit it -- I picked this book up again because of all the news coverage and renewed speculation about the death of Natalie Wood. While he does give his version of events (and no, I don't think he tossed her overboard), there's much more to the book than that.

I had no idea that as a young man he'd had an affair with Barbara Stanwyck, a woman more than 20 years his senior. The passages about their affair were tender and sexy, and if I was her, I'd be thrilled that an ex-lover remembered me this
Lee Anne
Oct 17, 2008 rated it liked it
I got this for free. It's pretty close to what you want from a celeb memoir--plenty of juicy stories about other famous people--who's a jerk (Lesley Ann Down), who the author slept with (Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Yvonne De Carlo), etc. He didn't really shed any light on Natalie Wood's death, other than to say he and Christopher Walken were arguing about acting and one's commitment level to it, and much wine had been consumed. I don't think Walken and Wood were having an affair, and I doub ...more
Marcia Richards
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I grew up loving Robert Wagner so this autobiography totally appealed to me. His writing style is a bit choppy as he jumped from one topic to another, sometimes every other paragraph but soon I got used to his style. His true voice shone through and it felt like sitting in his living room as he related all the events of his life. It was fun peeking in on the off-stage lives of well-loved actors and directors. Many secrets revealed. RJ. Takes the reader on his personal journey where we learn abou ...more
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Robert Wagner has been a working actor for many decades and has seen a great deal about the culture of film, TV, and stage in the United States and Europe, as well as knowing many great and not-so-great people associated with the business. His candid but not unkind memoirs are fun to read, and while he admits to mistakes, he seems to be a fundamentally decent man who has, amazingly, managed to balance family and career and maintain his integrity in an industry where that can be almost impossible ...more
Lizabeth Tucker
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've loved Robert Wagner for pretty much as long as I can remember, and since I'm in my 50s now, that is pretty long. I've watched films simply because he was in them. And no matter how disappointing the movie itself might be, I always was pleased with what Wagner gave us.

In this autobiography, the actor is brutally honest about himself, his family, his friends, and the business he works in to this day. He discusses his great love for Natalie Wood and what went wrong during their first marriage.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great memoir from Robert Wagner. I like the fact that he tells you who he liked and who he didn't like. He discusses his marriages to Natalie Wood (twice), Marion Donen, and Jill St. John, who he's still married to today. He also discusses his May-December affair of four years with Barbara Stanwyck when he was 22 and she was 45. They parted on good terms and remained friends until her death. He discusses the controversy surrounding Natalie's death by drowning and is adamant that it was an accide ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Well.....two quotes from the book really struck me:

RE: Fred Astaire: "Although Fred's parents were from Omaha, where he had been born, his mother radiated elegance and breeding." So if you're from Nebraska it's a given you don't have any class????

After the death of Natalie Wood: "A doctor gave me a line from Eugene O'Neill: 'Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.' For me, my children and the people who threw themselves into holding us together were the glue."

I think t
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. I listened to it while sewing and it was very pleasant listening. Robert Wagner has a good rhythm when speaking and his life story was interesting. It was wonderful to hear how much he and Natlie Wood loved each other, despite their differences, divorce, and then their remarriage to each other. Losing her was unbelievable for him, and you can hear it in the retelling of this story. He has led a charmed life and doesn't take it for granted. I enjoyed this book very much.
Ellie Revert
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it
RJ was the first movie star who stole my heart---when I was 13. He does a wonderful job of describing his life, and especially his relationship with Natalie Wood, his daughters, and his wife, Jill.

His basic outlook is of gratitude---for all he's been given--opportunities, love, joy in his work, loyalty given and given out. It was lovely to read his story, and he tells it with an upbeat outlook no matter what his life contained.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This will not go down in history as one of the best Hollywood autobiographies, but it's fine. The cheesy title sets expectations low and there is some fun to be had of the "and then I slept with" variety. The biggest surprise to me were the close relationships Wagner had with some genuine Hollywood legends of an earlier generation. He loved and respected Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis and, most intimately, Barbara Stanwyck -- and the feelings seemed mutual.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
Mr. Wagner is no gentleman in my book. All he does is kiss and tell. Who didn't he have sex with? Does everyone in Hollywood become sexually active at puberty? I live in So. Cal. and this does not represent the lifestyle in California. I found no redeeming qualities in this book. Trash reading for those that like that sort of thing.
Nov 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I bought this book and had it signed by RJ himself when he came to our local book store. I have always been a fan. I enjoyed reading about his path to becoming a movie star and then a TV star. He included a lot of Hollywood gossip and some surprises (at least to me). I did feel that the writing was not great and it seemed to meander a bit, but then he is an actor not a writer.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a kiss and tell book, some information was strictly "too much information." But it was interesting to see how the movie and tv business works from an insider. I enjoyed the book.
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Robert John Wagner, Jr an American actor of stage, screen, and television, best known for starring in the television shows It Takes a Thief (1968–70) and Hart to Hart (1979–84). In movies, Wagner is known for his role as Number Two in the Austin Powers trilogy of films, as well as for The Pink Panther, The Towering Inferno, and more.

Wagner was married twice to the late actress Natalie Wood and is
“Grief mixed with shock is such a difficult state to be in; it's hard even to describe it. On the one hand, I was numb and felt like I was in some sort of dream state - I couldn't believe Natalie was gone, but I knew it was true. And despite the shock, which makes you feel like you're muffled in cotton, my nerve ends were screaming. I was in emotional pain so intense it was physical.” 5 likes
“Occasionally, on screen, Barbara [Stanwyck] had a wary, watchful quality about her that I've noticed in other people who had bad childhoods; they tend to keep an eye on life because they don't think it can be trusted. After her mother was killed by a streetcar, she had been raised in Brooklyn by her sisters, and from things she said, I believe she had been abused as a child. She had lived an entirely different life than mine, that's for sure, which is one reason I found her so fascinating. I think her early life was one reason she had such authenticity as an actress, and as a person.” 3 likes
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