The book, written with Scott Eyman, chronicles not only
Wagner's favorite places as he gained fame as a television and
film actor but also the historical development of Hollywood and
greater Los Angeles prior to becoming a movie-star destination.
Known for his boyish good looks and charm, Wagner, 84, was
nominated for four Golden Globe awards for the "Hart to Hart" TV
series that ran from 1979 to 1984. He also appeared in a long
list of films from the early 1950s through the "Austin Powers"
movies into 2002.
He is married to actress Jill St John. Wagner's former wife,
"West Side Story" actress Natalie Wood, drowned in 1981 at the
age of 43. Wagner recounted the events leading to her death in
his autobiography "Pieces of My Heart: A Life."
He spoke to Reuters about the motivation and timing of his
latest book and the contrasts between modern and the "Golden
Age" of movie making.
Q: How did you choose the title "You Must Remember This"?
A: "You Must Remember This" is a lyric from the song "As
Times Goes By" written by Herman Hupfeld in the 1930s. The song
was made famous in (the film) "Casablanca."
Q: What prompted you to write the book?
A: My co-author, Scott Eyman, is so knowledgeable about
Hollywood and he knows the background. He has written books
about Louis B. Meyer, Cecil B. DeMille, John Ford and Ernst
Lubitsch. He loves the movies. He just finished a book on John
We started to talk about this era of Hollywood and do the
research. I was around a lot of it but some of the book's
material was way before my time. But I stepped on the same
places as all these famous people did, and I got a piece of the
last of the golden era of Hollywood. I was also there when it
I work with a lot of people who are younger than me, and they
ask me about what it was like — the contract system and studios.
I tell them about it, and they are so interested about these
subjects. I then thought this could be an interesting book to
write and talked to Scott about it. The effort took about two to
three years to complete.
[to top of second column]
Q: Given your long career in Hollywood with movies and
television shows, how did you select the material for the book?
A: We loved writing the book, and it was hard for us to let
it go because there were other areas that we had worked on and
developed, but we hit on the high spots.
It is just a different time. There are lot of things that were
positive about that era and some elements that were not so popular.
This is not a book about grievance. It's just my take on what I saw,
on what I thought was a thrilling time.
I turned around one day and it was gone, and that was not such a
long time ago.
Q: Who is your audience for this book?
A: This book is about the best time of my life. It was really great.
I was a kid starting off at 18 years old and was so excited. My hope
is that people who read it will experience the same thrill that I
did when I was coming up.
Q: How is the approach to making movies today different
relative to classic Hollywood?
A: The producers and studio executives had a passion for
movies. They cared for them and gambled and took great risks. Maybe
the picture would not make that money at that moment, but over a
period of time, it would return at least its cost.
They did not have so much pressure for the quarterly earnings. If a
picture nowadays grosses a tremendous amount of money, it does not
really move the company's stock price. These studios are
subsidiaries of much larger companies.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Cynthia Osterman)
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