Robert Wagner Recalls Robert Osborne's "Knowledge and Compassion"

Getty Images
Robert Wagner (top) and Robert Osborne

The two met in the early 1950s when both were actors under contract to Fox.

I first met Robert in the early '50s when he was planning to be an actor and we were both under contract to 20th Century Fox. We became fast friends. Soon thereafter he was signed by Desilu Productions and was mentored by Lucille Ball, who encouraged him to write about the movies.

Robert was that rare person who truly loved what he did all of his life. He was enchanted by the movies for as long as he could remember and he always wanted to be involved with them in some way. He started out working for theaters, climbing up ladders and setting the names of titles and stars on marquees.

He got involved with radio when he was very young and befriended movie stars like Jane Powell. Then he tried acting. And then he became a journalist and a TV host whose knowledge about films — what they were about and who made them and what they gave to us — was second to none.

There are plenty of film historians out there, but Robert was a true original. He had not only great knowledge but also great compassion — for the films and for the people who made them. My wife Jill [St. John] just loved him, as did my late wife Natalie [Wood], as did I.

He created a beautiful circle of friends and gave so much to all of us who were lucky enough to be a part of it. He just had a very special quality that was so moving, so caring and so loving — we were all touched by him, in a way. He was one of the most wonderful people that I have ever met, and he will be truly missed.