Tonight we had the pleasure of seeing Robert Wagner speak at our local library, as part of a promotion for his book of memoirs. The meeting room was packed; in fact, it was standing room only. Tangled in Friday night LA rush hour traffic, he was a half hour late but totally worth the wait.
I know this picture doesn’t show it but he’s still a very handsome guy and sharp as a tack. When he came out after the library director’s introduction, which included a reference to his being in the original Titanic, he said “you know, I wasn’t ON the Titanic, she meant the movie!”
Accompanied by his daughter, Katie, he settled in to tell stories about mentors, such as Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Fred Astaire, who I’d forgotten had played his father in It Takes a Thief. He spoke about his loves, Barbara Stanwyck (“back then, an older woman couldn’t be with a younger man. Now, an older man can be with a younger man…”) and Natalie Wood and about his three daughters.
Toward the end, he answered questions from the audience. When a young guy was tacky enough to ask about Thomas Naguchi, the LA coroner who talked about Natalie Wood’s death, he and Katie handled it very tactfully, as well as a question about Christopher Walken, who was also on board the ship the night she died. On a lighter note, when several women prefaced their questions with mushy compliments to his looks and voice, he asked “Do you live close by?”, with a roguish smile.
He was very gracious and funny and Katie filled in details and stories with her own memories and viewpoint. It’s pretty amazing to see this 79 year old icon having a great time with a group of fans who are still watching him in movies (Austin Powers) and TV (the recent arc on Two and a Half Men and an upcoming NCIS episode, as Tony's dad!).