Gotham Season 1 on DVD Big discounts on
stuff you want!


Save money!
Arrow Season 3 on DVD Carol Burnett Christmas on DVD The Flash Season 1 on DVD Book About Greensboro Greensboro Wrestling Book “Dungeons

 

Robert Wagoner + Jim Longworth
Happy Anniversary R.J. !

By Jim Longworth

In the summer of 1977 I witnessed something I’ve never experienced before or since.  I was holding court in a Century City hotel where CBS shuttled their prime time stars in and out of my suite for two straight days. I was there to tape interviews that we could broadcast back home on our local affiliate, and the network stars were there to boost ratings for their series.

As the days wore on, my tech crew got so used to seeing celebrities stroll into the suite, that they would casually talk among themselves and fiddle with equipment as each actor entered. Then it happened. Robert Wagner arrived for his appointed interview and the room went dead silent. There was no talking, no clanging of light stands, just complete silence. All of us, men and women alike, were mesmerized by his old style Hollywood elegance and boyish smile.

On that day, RJ was there to promote “Switch”, a private eye drama co-starring his friend Eddie Albert and a young Sharon Gless before she rose to stardom in “Cagney & Lacey”. We talked about a lot things that day, but my memory is clouded by the passage of 43 years, and the fact that I was star-struck to begin with.

Robert Wagoner + Jim Longworth

What I do know is that in the years since, I came to realize that RJ’s elegance, charm, and kindness were 100% genuine. For example, thirty years after our first meeting, RJ rushed from the set of “Two and a Half Men”, and grabbed a red eye flight here to Winston-Salem to help our Humane Society raise money for a no kill animal shelter. Thanks in part to RJ’s celebrity draw, the shelter was eventually built, and in a very short time, we increased our save rate from 36% to over 70%.
 
Earlier this year RJ turned a youthful 90, and this summer he celebrates his 70th year in show business. Recently, while everyone was still sheltering at home, RJ and I had a socially distant phone conversation about his remarkable career, which began with a cameo as a baseball player in 1950’s “The Happy Years”.
 
JL:  You were only in the movie for a few seconds, but it looked to me as though you could really play ball.
 
RJ:  Well I had played baseball in school, but I give credit to the editor for making me look good (laughs). Actually Bill Wellman gave me that break. My father knew Bill from the Bel Air Country Club and he said, “My son wants to be in the picture business. Is there anything you can do?” And Bill gave me that shot.
 
Young Wagner also made a lot of high profile friends of his own at the Club, including Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, and Clark Gable who helped to open doors for him. Before long, RJ was under contract at 20th Century Fox, where he played everything from a soldier to a Prince before landing a game-changing role in 1954’s “Broken Lance”, a western starring Spencer Tracy.

Broken Lance Trailer:

 
RJ:  That was my favorite picture, and it did so much for me. Mr. Tracy gave me co-star billing above the title, and that took me out of being just another guy in Hollywood. It put me in a whole different position. I didn’t realize it at the time, but “Broken Lance” changed my life completely.
 
Wagner went on to appear in over 60 films, but landed his first lead role on television in 1968 with “It Takes a Thief”, co-starring his friend Fred Astaire.

It Takes a Thief promo:

  
JL:  You wrote in your book, “Pieces of My Heart”, that Fred once advised you to just “keep going”. What did he mean?
 
RJ:  Just don’t let anything stop you. If you get turned down, if you get rejected, which is all the time, I mean, actors get rejected constantly, he said just keep your head up and keep going.

Robert Wagoner in It Takes a Thief
 
And that’s what RJ did after “Thief” was cancelled. He starred in “Colditz”, a short-lived WWII drama, then co-starred with Eddie Albert in “Switch”, all the while taking on supporting roles in such films as “The Towering Inferno” and “Midway”. 

Then, in 1979 RJ struck gold with “Hart to Hart”, which ran for five seasons and spawned eight TV movies and a lasting friendship with Stefanie Powers. One of RJ’s other co-stars in that series was Freeway the dog.


 
RJ: Most Hollywood dogs work on hand signals, but Freeway didn’t respond to that, so his trainer would be off set while Stefanie and I were in the middle of a love scene, and all you’d hear from the trainer is,”Come on, come on, come on” I’d be like, “Darling I love you”, then we’d hear “Come on, come on”.
 
JL:  Was there a lot of panting during that scene?

RJ:  Yeah, from me and from the dog.
 
JL: You’ve always been sort of the romantic lead, but was there ever a time when your good looks kept you from getting an acting job, or from being taken seriously as an actor?
 
RJ: Oh, I don’t know. It’s possible. But a guy wouldn’t come up to you and say, “We wouldn’t cast you in this picture because you’re a good looking guy” (both laugh). I mean, I never had that happen. But I’ve been very fortunate with all that.
 
JL: Well, you certainly had the looks to play a great James Bond. In fact, you and Cubby Broccoli talked about your becoming 007 after George Lazenby dropped out. Why didn’t you take that role?
 
RJ:  Because I’m too American. I think I would have had to do it with an accent, besides, Roger (Moore) was a perfect choice.
 
JL: But if you HAD been James Bond, aren’t there some villainous studio heads or critics that you’d like to have put in your ejector seat?
 
RJ: Oh God (laughs). That’s a good question.

JL:  You’re not going to name names are you?

RJ:  No, I don’t think so.
  
JL:  Are there any TV or movie roles you turned down, that you wish you hadn’t?
 
RJ: You know I was offered “Westworld”, and that would have been interesting, but I was doing something else at the time.


At that point in our conversation I mentioned it was our friend Richard Benjamin who took the role in “Westworld”,  and, that prompted RJ to comment on Dick’s participation in the recent documentary “”Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind”, which was produced by Wagner’s daughter Natasha.
 
RJ:  Did you see the documentary?
 
JL:  I did and it was superb.
 
RJ:  I’m so glad you reacted the way you did, because what Natasha wanted to have happen out of that documentary is for people to remember her mother as she lived, not as she died.
 
JL:  Natasha’s film was really a breath of fresh air amidst the stink of today’s tabloid media who thrive on sensationalism, but let’s face it, there have always been trash magazines that went after Hollywood celebrities.
 
RJ:  But we weren’t free game then. Now we’re free game, and anybody can write anything they want to, and not source it or attribute it 
 
JL:  You once said that your friend Cary Grant worked hard to achieve a sense of ease about his celebrity. Has it been the same for you? Or, did that sense of ease about your celebrity just come natural?
 
RJ:  I don’t feel uneasy about it, but I feel very grateful, very grateful. I’ve been so fortunate in my career, and I really haven’t done a hell of a lot to get that. I’ve just been very, very lucky Jim.
  
(Jim Longworth is a columnist and television talk show host based in North Carolina)

Post-Modern Sitcoms / Actors That Wrote Books / 1987 Gilbert Gottfried Pilot Written By Larry David / Tarantino, DiCaprio & Pitt on Once Upon A Time In Hollywood / Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci Talk Goodfellas / Robert Wagner Interview / 1990-1999 TV Commercials / Peter Boyle's Heart Attack on the Set of Everybody Loves Raymond / Patrick Swayze Refused To Do 'Ghost' Without Whoopie Goldberg / Houston Knights / The Shadow Movies of the 1930s & 40s / Why Jim Carrey Fought to Cast Jeff Daniels in 'Dumb and Dumber' / My Fave Book About Showbiz / Peter Falk : Inside The Actor's Studio / Jason Alexander on Duckman / Watch Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Special for Free / Restaurant Chains We Might Lose In 2020 / Night Heat / Short History of TV Advertising / Is Ellen A Monster? / 1986-87 TV SEASON / 1988-89 TV SEASON / 1990-91 TV SEASON / Can Comic Book City Survive? / When TV Plays Politics for Laughs / The Worst Thing I Ever Saw (Part 2) / Sally Field Looks Back on Smokey and the Bandit / Gene Wilder's Sexual Chemistry with Richard Pryor / WORST Pizzas Served On Kitchen Nightmares / Ricky Gervais' Cruelly Funny 2020 Golden Globe Monologue / What It's Like To Win A New Car on The Price Is Right / Night Train! 3 - Las Vegas Comic Pat Cooper / Night Train! 4 - Resurrection and Death of Louis Prima / Denis Shepard of Paradise Lost / Space Force Logo is a Ripoff from Star Trek! / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / How The Golden Girls and Elvis Got Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs Made / Charlie Brown Voice Actor Released From Prison / New Year's Eve on TV / Sir Laurence Olivier on the 'Genius' of Marlon Brando / 1967 Futurists Predict The 21st Century / Remembering Diahann Carroll / 50 Funniest Niles Crane Insults / TV HITS - By the Numbers / How Tom Hanks Played Mr. Rogers / Colin Farrell as The Penguin? / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Why Dolly Parton Would Not Let Elvis Record 'I Will Always Love You' / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / Danny McBride Rebooting Hogan's Heroes? / Fashion on TV / Alive & Well / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / Whatever Happened To Miss Cleo? / Lucy Blows Off Burt Reynolds / Dave Navarro Meets His Mother's Killer / The Real Mindhunters Killers / John Goodman Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Dog Fight! The KCNC Scandal / Buckley vs Hefner / Laurence Olivier vs Marilyn Monroe / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / Iconic M*A*S*H Restaurant Coming To Kroger? / Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Graham Norton - Big Laughs! / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Luke Perry's Last Role / Johnny Cash's Last Interview / Judy Garland's Last Film / Who Was Bob Gordon? / Richard Dreyfuss vs Bill Murray / Jeff Ross vs Everybody / Tennessee Williams 1972 Interview / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Awful 1990s TV Shows / The Funniest Comebacks in Talk Show History / Was Sonny Bono Murdered? / Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire Screen Tests / Robert Downey Jr Asks for Forgiveness for Mel Gibson / Russell Brand / Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave / Judy Garland vs Liz Taylor / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Anthony Zuiker: Mr. CSI / Jimmy & Cher / Diana Muldaur: A Viewer's History / Uncle Andy's Funhouse / Bea Arthur vs Betty White / Skidoo: Worst All-Star Comedy Ever? / Every Marvel Cartoon Opening Theme From 1966 - Present / When Stars Play Themselves / My Pen Pal is in the Pen, Pal / Small Roles Big Performances / Barbara Hall / Stars Before They Were Famous / Stars Before They Were Famous 2 / Stars Before They Were Famous 3 / A Better Classic TV Network / Bill Paxton / Who Was the Black Daliah? / How Frasier Was Created / Music Videos / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Behind the Scenes / Shirley Jones Interview / What We Lost When We Lost VHS / When Hit TV Shows Return / Commercials Starring Sopranos Cast Members / Shows Nobody Remembers But Me 4 / Shows Nobody Remembers But Me 1 / Bryan Cranston Interview / FREE streaming movie service you didn’t know you have / The Great Cable TV Migration / Sportscaster Woody Durham / Movie Posters and the documentary 24x36 /Chris Robinson /Dallas Reboot /David Letterman /Auditioning For Game Shows in the 80s /Ghosts of Cable TV past / Honey Boo Boo - WTF?!? / Steven Bochco Tribute / Ian Abercrombie / Joe Franklin / John Nettles / Gotham / Family Fued: Gilligan's Island vs Lost In Space / Jon Cryer / Jon Stewart / Lana Wood / David Letterman / Matt Bomer / Molly Ringwald / Morgan Brittany / Music Rights for TV Shows / Neilsen Ratings / Norman Lloyd / Not Your Dad's TV / TV Series Reunions / Rich Little / Special Bulletin with George Clooney / Howard Stern VS Jamie Foxx / Top Ten Action Movies / 2013 Emmy Awards / 2010 Celebrity Deaths

 

TVparty is Classic TV on the internet!
It is what it is!

 

Ernie Kovacs

 

">Book About Greensboro

 


Lost Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / More Modern TV Shows / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog

TVparty is Classic TV on the internet!
Classic TV on the Internet!

TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments

 

 

Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / Groucho vs William F Buckley / / TV Games / Honey Boo Boo / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / 1970s Commercial Jingles / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / What's In Oprah's Purse? / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Sammy Davis, Jr / Steve & Eydie/ Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Red Skelton / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Biff Burger / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You /  Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales /The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor big brotherShow / George Burns / Lucy's Lost Christmas Special / Classic Christmas Toy Commercials / Cricket On The Hearth / 1950's Holiday Shows / Amahl and the Night Visitors / A Christmas Carol on TV / The Yule Log / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More! 


Save money!