Entangled as a “person of interest” in the mysterious death of his wife, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner’s devoted daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner says she had to help clear her father’s name in what’s been “years of painful speculation.”
Having shared the screen with legends like Raquel Welch, Paul Newman and Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, now 93, is the handsome face behind popular TV series of the 1970s and 1980s, It Takes a Thief, Switch and Hart to Hart.
According to the actor, who played Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, he’s been linked romantically with Hollywood hottest stars, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins and Barbara Stanwyck, an actor 20 years his senior that he met while filming Titanic (1953).
But it was one dark-haired beauty, Hollywood’s sweetheart Natalie Wood, whom he was betrothed since she was only 10, that captured his heart.
In an interview with People in 1976, Wood, known as the rosy-cheeked child in Miracle on 34th Street, said, “I was 10 and he was 18 when I first saw him walking down a hall at 20th Century Fox,” she recalled. “I turned to my mother and said, ‘I’m going to marry him.’”
And she did marry him. Not once, but twice.
After marrying in 1957, and divorcing in 1962, the couple were separated for 10 years, remarried and each had children with their other spouses. The star of Rebel Without a Cause shared daughter Natasha (born 1970) with producer Richard Gregson and Wagner had Katie (born 1963) with Marion Mitchell.
Wagner and the star of West Side Story reconnected and married again in 1972, sharing a daughter Courtney, who was born in 1974.
“But we never stopped loving each other…We talked about what had happened to our marriages. He had become a man instead of a boy. But we had to have those years apart,” said the late Wood.
Wood was 43 when, after an evening on a yacht with Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, she allegedly drowned in the waters near Catalina Island. It was the next day she was found floating, face down in the water, wearing only a nightgown.
It was after her death that Wagner became the legal Guardian of Natasha, who was 11 at the time, and now a 52-year-old who’s fiercely protective of her dad.
“For so many years we were advised to ignore or not talk about it,” says actor Natasha in the 2020 HBO documentary Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind, that she also co-produced. “But enough is enough. I know that if my mom had been in any kind of distress, he would have given his life for her.”
“It’s true,” said Wagner, who was 90 at the time of the interview. “She said that because she knows me and she knows that I never would have done anything to hurt her mother.”
The case of Wood was closed in 2020 when it went cold, and her death still remains a mystery.
The star of A Kiss Before Dying, who married actor Jill St. John in 1982, one year after the death of Wood, is a devoted and present dad who said he consulted with a therapist on how to gently let his daughters that their mom was dead.
“I think my Dad and Daddy Gregson, they were trying to pick up the pieces for us and stumble forward and find out what our life looked like after that,” says Natasha, referencing her biological father and Wagner, her stepdad. “I was so lucky I had two dads who were deeply committed to raising me and helping me through.”
Wagner’s devotion to his children and now grandchildren, is evidenced on his Instagram page, where he takes every opportunity to honor his family. And fans can’t seem to get enough of him.
On Father’s Day, he shared a photo of him with Courtney, Katie, Natasha and his grandkids, with the caption: “Happy Father’s Day to Me. I am blessed to be a dad and grandfather to these incredible people.”
Celebrating the birthday of his son-in-law, actor Barry Watson who’s known for 7th Heaven and Samantha Who?, Wagner, the author of “I love her in the Movies,” posted a recent photo of the two. Fans chimed in with comments like, “Robert Wagner is still the classiest man alive.” While others complimented the actor for looking “wonderful and happy,” and “handsome.”
May 11, which was Katie’s birthday, he posted heartfelt wishes to his first born. “Please join me in wishing my daughter, Katie a very happy birthday. My first born, my heart. I am so proud of the daughter, mother and wife that you have become. I love you very much,” he wrote, with a sweet photo of him and his girl.
Earlier, in March, he posted an old family portrait, with him in a suit embracing a young Courtney and Wood, who looked stunning in a white dress: “Please join me in wishing a happy birthday to my beautiful daughter, Courtney. You are such a blessing in our lives and we love you so much.”
Perhaps the sweetest are his frequents posts of his late wife. Recently, he shared a wedding photo of him and Wood with the caption, “Natalie was my girl and then she was my wife. Happy 65th anniversary, Nat. More than love.”
Robert Wagner did a great job with raising these three beautiful girls! With all his posts on Instagram, It’s really sweet seeing how involved he still is as a parent.
What do you think about Wagner and Natalie Wood?