Film and television actor and New York Times bestselling author Robert Wagner’s memoir of the great women movie stars he has known.
In a career that has spanned more than sixty years Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both media. During that time he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with the remarkable women who were the greatest screen personalities of their day. I Loved Her in the Movies is his intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made as actresses as well as the choices they made as women.
Among Wagner’s subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner also examines topics such as the strange alchemy of the camera—how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice versa—and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies, one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.
Like Wagner’s two previous bestsellers, I Loved Her in the Movies is a privileged look behind the scenes at some of the most well-known women in show business as well as an insightful look at the sexual and romantic attraction that created their magic.
In his third Hollywood memoir (after Pieces of My Heart), film and TV star Wagner writes a valentine to the "female movie stars that defined my generation." He proceeds chronologically, beginning in the 1930s with Norma Shearer, " first movie star," whom he met when he was eight. Other '30s stars he discusses include Joan Crawford, with whom he had a brief fling in the '50s, and Irene Dunne. In the 1940s, Wagner champions the troubled Betty Hutton and dances with June Haver at a party at his high school. He writes at length about Lana Turner in the 1950s, and breezes through the 1960s and 1980s, though readers will wish he hadn't. His chapters on his wives, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John, are particularly brief and unsatisfying. There are tidbits of gossip Fred McMurray was a tightwad; Veronica Lake was given to anti-Semitic outbursts but most of the book contains casual recollections. His digression about the Studio Club, a residence house for actresses, is more interesting. What emerges most strongly is Wagner's sympathy and respect for the resilient women who had to fight harder than men to survive in Hollywood. 35 b&w photos.