- Category : 1930-births
- Type : PM
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 1
American actor, probably best known as "Jonathan Hart" on the long-running TV series "Hart to Hart." The show, built around the chemistry between Wagner and his co-star, Stephanie Powers, ran from 1979 to 1983 and became internationally popular.
The son of a Detroit steel executive, Wagner had plans to become a businessman like his father. The family’s move to Los Angeles, however, exposed him to the film industry, and soon he was dreaming of being an actor. He visited the big name studios on a regular basis and eventually was noticed by a talent scout. Wagner’s boyish handsomeness, his easy-going charm and his remarkable physique were responsible for getting him a part in "The Happy Years," 1950, as well as a contract with 20th Century Fox. He had no problem playing romantic roles and initially was known more for his charisma than his method. After his performance in "With a Song in My Heart," 1952, executives saw he could handle dramatic roles as well. In 1956, he portrayed a cold-blooded killer in "A Kiss Before Dying" and was so convincing in the role that studio heads were persuaded he could carry a feature film.
He continued to work steadily through the remainder of the 1950s and into the 1960s, but his movie career came to a standstill after he completed work on "The Pink Panther," 1964. Two years later he made a successful transition to the small screen with a leading role in "It Takes a Thief," which ran from 1968-70, and for the rest of his career, Wagner found his greatest success in television. Since their days together on "Hart to Hart," Wagner and Powers have toured together, performing A.R. Gurney’s "Love Letters" around the world.
In June 2000, Wagner filed a lawsuit against Aaron Spelling Productions, charging that he was cheated out of profits from the popular TV series, "Beverly Hills 90210." The profits were part of a settlement that resulted from the use of a pilot he had submitted to Spelling in the early 1970s.
Wagner’s personal life has been filled with ups and downs. In late 1956, he met Natalie Wood, an 18-year-old actress. They were married on 28 December 1957, Scottsdale, Arizona. Although deeply in love and outwardly appearing to be the perfect couple, things were not going well at home. His career was faltering, and they were strapped for cash. They divorced on 27 April 1962. Soon afterward, in Europe on assignment and hoping to escape the pain from his failed marriage, Wagner met an old friend, actress Marion Marshall. They were married on 22 July 1963 and had one daughter, Kate, before their relationship ended in 1970. Through the years, he kept in touch with Natalie, who had remarried and had a daughter, Natasha. In 1971, they accidentally met, realized they were still in love, and Natalie soon divorced her husband, Richard Gregson. She and Wagner remarried on 16 June 1972 on their yacht "Splendour," and in 1974, they welcomed a daughter, Courtney Brooke. Their second marriage was filled with the love and happiness they had dreamed of for so long, and they worked together to raise their three girls, Kate, Natasha and Courtney.
On 29 November 1981, their life together was shattered when Natalie apparently slipped off the deck of the "Splendour" and drowned. Devastated and inconsolable, and facing tabloid headlines implying he had a hand in his wife’s death, Wagner pulled himself together, and for the next ten years, he raised their daughters alone. He had a long-term, companionable relationship with actress Jill St. John for many years before they married on 26 May 1990. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing.
On 8 July 2003, he sued Sony Pictures for half the profits from two successful "Charlie's Angels" movies. Wagner says that he and wife Natalie Wood helped develop the TV series that ran on network television from 1976 to 1981 and that he and Wood signed a contract in 1974 giving them 50% of the earnings stemming from the TV show.
On 1 February 2018, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department named Wagner a "person of interest" in the investigation into Wood's death. He has denied any involvement.