Robert Wagner, whose career has evolved from movie idol to TV star to Hollywood elder statesman, will appear Aug. 15 and 16 at the El Paso Community Foundation’s seventh annual Plaza Classic Film Festival.
The festival will be Aug. 7-17 in and around the historic Plaza Theatre. More than 80 movies will be shown. Special guests include movie and TV star Shirley Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Beth Henley and Las Cruces’ Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Mark Medoff.
Wagner will appear in the Plaza Theatre with two of his best-known movies — the Academy Award-nominated 1974 disaster flick “The Towering Inferno,” at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 (tickets are $10); and the 1956 film noir “A Kiss Before Dying,” at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 16 ($6).
He will sign copies of his new book, “You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age,” at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 16 in the El Paso Community Foundation’s Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon. There is no admission charge for the signing, but copies of “You Must Remember This” will be available for sale.
Additionally, Wagner will appear at a private reception for Plaza Classic Film Festival pass holders.
“Mr. Wagner’s range of characters — from leading man to comic foil to villain — have given him a long and interesting career. We are lucky to have him come to El Paso,” said Eric Pearson, president and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation.
Wagner, 84, is a Detroit native who broke into the Hollywood studio system in the 1950s, emerging as the cool, handsome young star of a series of 20th Century Fox hits such as “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” “Broken Lance,” “Titanic” and “A Kiss Before Dying,” where he played the villain. Other notable appearances include“The Pink Panther” and the all-star D-Day epic “The Longest Day” (PCFF will show “The Longest Day” at noon Aug. 13 in the Plaza Theatre, but Wagner will not appear with it).
Wagner became a TV star in the 1960s and continued through the ‘80s with the hit shows “It Takes a Thief” (opposite Fred Astaire), “Switch” (Eddie Albert) and “Hart to Hart” (Stefanie Powers). He enjoyed a resurgence in the late 1990s, thanks to a toothy British spy named Austin Powers. Wagner played Number Two in comedian Mike Myers’ ‘60s spy spoof trilogy.
Currently, Wagner has had recurring roles on TV hits “Two and a Half Men” and “NCIS,” and became an author with his 2008 autobiography, “Pieces of My Heart: A Life,” and this year’s “You Must Remember This,” a nostalgic look at a Hollywood that has faded. “It was a lesson to me that nothing lasts forever,” he writes in the book. “Except the movies.”
Festival passes are $200 and include admission to all Plaza Classic Film Festival movies. They are available online at plazaclassic.com and by phone, 915-533-4020.
Plaza Classic Film Festival tickets are on sale at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.