Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers: The Dynamic Duo of TV's "Hart to Hart"

Herbie J Pilato

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[Note: This article is based on entertainment postings and accredited media reports attributed to Closer Weekly Magazine, The Daily Mail, and the books Glamour, Gidgets and the Girl Next Door, and Dashing, Daring and Debonair.]

It remains a television series classic, inspired by the Nick and Nora classic films of the 1930s and '40s.

It was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, a winning team who brought to the small screen several hits in the 1960s and '70s, including The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Charlie's Angels, and Starsky & Hutch.

Originally airing on ABC from 1979 to 1980, the show is titled Hart to Hart, which starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as married sleuths Jonathan and Jennifer Hart.

In the 1960s, Wagner and Powers starred in previous TV shows, respectively: It Takes a Thief, and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E, two shows ultimately inspired by the James Bond 007 motion picture craze of the era.

Two decades later Powers and Wagner were brought together on Hart to Hart, and their chemistry was unshaken and never stirred.

Forty years after Hart to Hart's debut, the two actors talked with Closer Weekly Magazine, about working on the show and their relationship.

As Closer documented, "The stars were so believable as a happily married couple, fans often wondered if they ever took their TV romance off camera. But Wagner was quick to clarify, “No, I was married [to actress Natalie Wood] and she was with [actor] Bill Holden. What you saw was strictly for the roles we played. The reason we had this great relationship was because we’d worked together on It Takes a Thief [in 1970, when Powers was a guest star on that show]. We always had a joyous time.”

“We adore each other,” Powers, now 79, confided to Closer “Robert and I live in separate parts of the world, but he’ll visit for dinner at times.” In fact, she says, the two “talk quite regularly and send each other dirty jokes!”

According to The Daily Mail, Powers called the show "a fantasy...an escapist romantic comedy adventure. We just had to keep that bubble in the air." The series was "benign," Powers added. "You didn't have to worry about bad language or X-rated [scenes]. The whole family enjoyed it.'

Powers said she and Wagner remain close today, likening their relationship to that of "Siblings who really like each other — when we were working together, sometimes we would get into laughing fits and they'd have to send us home. We can still push each other's buttons today. We laugh all the time."

In November 1981, both actors lost their real-life romantic partners, Wagner, most devastatingly when Natalie Wood drowned when the couple was on a weekend sailing trip.

When journalist Helena De Bertodano of The Daily Mail asked Powers how Wagner copes with the unending speculation surrounding the circumstances of Wood's demise (the actor has been named a "person of interest" by authorities investigating the tragedy), she replied: "There are people who, whenever they can, try to make some money off of selling the story. [But] I'm sure it gets to him."

Meanwhile, Holden, who was much older than Powers, was, as The Daily Mail documented, "a known alcoholic," who "died by tripping and gashing his head in his Santa Monica apartment after drinking vodka."

"That was a very, very tragic period," Powers told The Daily Mail. But both she and Wagner threw themselves into work on Hart to Hart. "We had an obligation; we didn't have much choice."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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