Gone but never forgotten. November 29 will mark the 35th anniversary of actress Natalie Wood’s death, but her then-husband Robert Wagner still feels her loss.
In his new book, I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses, the veteran star writes, “When Natalie died, I thought my life was over.” He talked about that dark time in an interview with Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan on Friday, November 18. Watch what he said in the video above.
The pair were nine years into their second marriage when the West Side Story star drowned at the age of 43 while on a weekend boat trip off the coast of California in 1981. The circumstances of how she ended up in the water were never clearly determined, but Wagner, 86, has always denied any involvement in the former child star’s death.
“It’s always with you,” said Wagner, who has a daughter, Courtney, with Wood. “It was a tremendous loss for all of us. We have our memories, and that’s the most important.”
In his newly released book, the former star of 1980s TV series Hart to Hart looks back on his six-decade-long career and pays tribute to all of the “wonderful women” he knew in Hollywood. “I was so fortunate to be able to work with many of them and know a lot of them,” he said.
Those women included Marilyn Monroe, who he screen-tested with twice and spent time with off camera, even buying a used Cadillac from her.
“We were all kids together,” Wagner told Strahan of his days as a young actor under contract at 20th Century Fox. “She was a terrific lady. She was a wonderful person. Joyous. Had a great sense of humor and I liked her lot. She was terrific, and I liked the car.”
Wagner, who made his movie debut in 1951, was asked by Strahan to dish on some of the other Hollywood legends that he knew and worked with.
Of the late, violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor, who he starred with in the 1986 TV movie There Must Be a Pony, he said, “You looked in those eyes and it takes a lot of concentration to keep going. You know what I’m saying?”
He said that Sophia Loren, his costar in 1962’s The Condemned of Altona, has a “wonderful warmth about her, you just feel it.”
Strahan then asked him about Audrey Hepburn, who shared her final on-screen kiss with Wagner in 1987’s Love Among Thieves.
“I just adored her,” he said of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star, who died in 1993. “Everybody that met her thought she was the best, and she was. She was a very, very special lady.”
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