Thursday, October 02, 2008

Meeting Jonathan Hart

I can cross another childhood crush off the list, as I got to meet Robert Wagner tonight. I grew up watching Hart to Hart. I told RJ the show made me want to move to LA. I wanted to cruise around in a convertible Mercedes with the license plate "2 Harts" just like Jonathan and Jennifer...and now I do, except it's a convertible Audi sans vanity plate. RJ was so dashing and handsome on that show, and, heck, he still looks great at age 78.

To promote his new memoir Pieces of My Heart, RJ appeared for a talk and signing at the Santa Monica Public Library. The talk was really fun because it was a conversation with his daughter Katie. His daughter Natasha was also in the crowd. Katie teased her dad about all the girls he's loved before, including the big revelation that he had a 3-year love affair with Barbara Stanwyck long before it was cool to date a cougar. They also talked about his great love - Natalie Wood - how they met when she was 18, married young, divorced, remarried, and the tragic accident. Natasha asked a question about how her dad managed to keep in touch with people over the years and be such a good friend who called his friends often. He replied that it was just due to putting in the effort. Katie reminded Natasha that their dad was one of the first people in LA to have a car phone.

RJ talked a lot about the importance of mentors in his life, including David Niven, Laurence Olivier, and Paul Newman. He was generous with his time, putting up with some crackpot questions from the audience. One guy asked why after all his years of looking impeccable and clean-shaven, RJ would allow a stubbly pic of himself to be on his book cover. The guy wouldn't let it go and said he disliked how everyone was stubbly in movies today. RJ simply said it was a picture taken on the set of The Longest Day that his daughter Courtney had suggested he use, and that it represented a time when he was in a lot of emotional turmoil due to the first break up with Natalie. I think it's a very striking photo, probably because it does seem slightly out of character (but still dashing!).

Another person in the audience brought up something that had always bothered me: how did the Harts manage to attract more friends since one of their friends died in every episode of
Hart to Hart. RJ laughed and said it was quite lonely after a while since everyone was wary of befriending them. He also pointed out that it was odd that Max didn't have a room - or at least, it was never shown on the show.

There was also a sweet question from the audience, where a gal got up and said it was refreshing to see a loving couple like Jonathan and Jennifer on TV in an era of a lot of soap opera style feuding. RJ said the network always wanted more conflict on the show but they refused to cave in and kept calling each other "darling."

RJ signed books and posed for photos, chatting with everyone and being very gracious. I have to agree with Max. He's quite a guy!


konberg said...

Wow, Julie, that's pretty awesome. I'm a little envious that I didn't know about this one. The Maplewood library just won't have the same attractions.

Nerdia said...

Did anyone talk or ask about the Austin Powers movies?

Unknown said...

As always, you let us live vicariously through your hero-worship and childhood crushes, although I must say that this one was news to me. The only part of this show I remember is the introduction with the convertible, which you capture quite elegantly here. So, no Nick and Nora questions? I always thought of Hart to Hart as a 70's style rip-off of that most elegant of sleuthing couples from the Thin Man series.

Brian McCloskey said...

He was a real gentleman; he chatted with my parents while signing his autobiography for them - they have a great story to tell all their friends when they get back home to Ireland!

Mitchy said...

Did he like your fancy new backpack?