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Robert Wagner’s Praise To Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood—whatever happened to the girl I knew? . . . Bob Wagner muses. . . . She’s gone now, like a butterfly that flutters from flower to flower in a short, gay, giddy life in the summer sun. Gone with the toy tigers, the ragged haircut, the pink bedroom, the giggles and the mink stole with the toreador pants. And in her place is a very different Natalie—you, my wife, my love. How can I put into words the never-ending wonder of you? You are like the summer day itself—your smile its warmth, your laughter its brightness, your eyes its cool, quiet shadows.

At one moment, you’re lively as a trout in a sparkling stream; the next, deep and calm as a still pool. I see you on our boat, the ninety-five pounds of you swallowed by one of my old sweaters, with a smudge on your nose, swabbing the decks, singing sea chanties. Again, I see you in the evenings, listening to records with me, your hair a dark frame for your face, grave and sweet as a Madonna’s.

Restaurants are strange places to learn about your wife, but every time we go into one, I discover some- thing new. The way you parry questions at a lunch- eon interview, with a dignity and ease that makes me marvel. The way you look—as if you’d just stepped out of a bandbox. The way the waiters like you, because you’re friendly and considerate. And I remember the pixie who loved boisterous pranks in drive-ins, and I think, “My girl’s grown up!”

Give me a whole day to write the reasons why I love you, and I couldn’t do it. There’s your serious look when you scramble eggs—as if your life depended on it. And your mournful, helpless expression when they tum out wrong. Your frown, as you sit at the kitchen table, struggling valiantly to check a pile of grocery bills and laundry lists. Your spluttering and splashing in a swimming pool, like a carefree kid. The wonderful performances you put on just for me, prancing around our living room in hare feet, playing every part.

Dear girl, I’m so glad I married an actress. How else could I see all of “Marjorie Morningstar” and “Kings Go Forth” without even going to the movies? But seriously, I wouldn’t care if you were just Little Mrs. Homebody. Because I’ve learned one very important thing: Through the eyes of love, any woman is beautiful. For it is love that makes a woman glow and grow. And the sight of it is lovelier than anything else on earth. To you, I make this silent vow: To keep that loveliness in your life, always. To cherish you, and walk hand in hand with you, and grow with you through the years. So that, when autumn comes for us, we will keep the warmth and glory of this summertime.



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