Pat Clark

It's a moment to be manic over Mundy

Robert Wagner discusses Natalie Wood's death and his affair with Barbara Stanwyck in his book "Pieces of My Heart." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Robert Wagner discusses Natalie Wood's death and his affair with Barbara Stanwyck in his book "Pieces of My Heart." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

I'm having a bit of a Robert Wagner moment.

Which is odd, since I usually don't have moments over 78-year-old men.

Not that I have anything against 78-year-old men. Come my 70s, I'm sure many a moment will be dedicated to just such gents.

But a current moment I am having, kick-started by Wagner's relentless talk-show appearances to plug his new memoir, "Pieces of My Heart." His appearances led me to to revisit his 1960s TV show "It Takes A Thief," which led me to read reviews of above memoir, which led me to the bookstore.

Which led me to frustration because, apparently, everyone else in Modesto is having a Robert Wagner moment, as well -- and snatched up all the copies of his book.


Adding to the oddity of my moment is the fact that biographies usually are not my thing. OK, really, biographies never are my thing.

Like pretty much all nonfiction books, biographies just sound dull as the phone book to me. No doubt there are all manner of nonfiction tomes out there that are simply fascinating reads. I just prefer a fantasy fictionalized world to the real one.

Yet, somehow, Robert Wagner had me with hello with his book, and it wasn't even all the so-called tell-all aspects that hooked me.

Sure, sure, he writes about the night his wife, actress Natalie Wood, died on that boat so many years ago — talking for "the first time ever!" about the tragedy, the talk-show teasers told us.

And, of course, there's the revelation of his hitherto unknown "shocking!" affair with Barbara Stanwyck.

Such a revelation appears to be prerequisite to penning a best-selling memoir. Wagner's comes on the heels of Barbara Walters' disclosure of her scandalous but kept-secret tryst with a senator in her book "Audition."

Guess that pulls the plug on my future best-selling memoir. Shame that.

But the juicier aspects of Wagner's book aren't what interest me. It simply is the man himself and my own long-held crush.

And when I say long-held I mean long-held; like four decades long-held.

I was all of 7 years old when "It Takes A Thief" hit TV and was immediately in love with his cat burglar extraordinaire-turned-forced-government-agent, Alexander Mundy. So handsome, so suave, so debonair. Never mind I had no idea at the time what the words "suave" or "debonair" meant. I knew the feeling behind the ideas, though.

Heavy sigh.

Thanks to I revisited an episode that sent Mundy to a faux Middle Eastern country to save the world with fetching agent Tina Louise (yes, Ginger from "Gilligan's Island." What a hoot!).

Wagner's Mundy just might be a bit of the inspiration behind the lead character in one of my new very favorite TV shows, "Burn Notice." Government spy-turned-forced-drudge-for-questionable-agents Michael Weston is handsome, suave and debonair, albeit updated for the new millennium with a dose of attitude and camp. To quote a friend who got me hooked on the show, he "has a quality."

Alexander Mundy had a quality, too. And so does Robert Wagner, who often is referred to as the nicest guy in Hollywood. Which is a quality all its own, really.

Handsome, suave, debonair and nice?

Now, that's a guy who deserves several moments — and then a few more.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at