Robert John Wagner, Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Thelma Hazel Alvera (Boe), a telephone operator, and Robert John Wagner, Sr., a traveling salesman. His paternal grandparents were German and his maternal grandparents were Norwegian. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was seven. Always wanting to be an actor, he held a variety of jobs while pursuing his goal, but it was while dining with his parents at a restaurant in Beverly Hills that he was discovered by a talent scout. After making his uncredited screen debut in The Happy Years (1950), Wagner was signed by 20th Century Fox, which carefully built him up toward stardom. He played romantic leads with ease, but it wasnt until he essayed the two-scene role of a shellshocked war veteran in With a Song in My Heart (1952) that studio executives recognized his potential as a dramatic actor. He went on to play the title roles in Prince Valiant (1954) and The True Story of Jesse James (1957), and portrayed a cold-blooded murderer in A Kiss Before Dying (1956). In the mid-60s, however, his film career skidded to a stop after The Pink Panther (1963). Several years of unemployment followed before Wagner made a respectable transition to television as star of the lighthearted espionage series It Takes a Thief (1968) (1968-1970). He also starred in the police series Switch (1975), but Wagners greatest success was opposite Stefanie Powers in the internationally popular Hart to Hart (1979), which ran from 1979 through 1984 and has since been sporadically revived in TV-movie form (a 1986 series, Lime Street (1985), was quickly canceled due to the tragic death of Wagners young co-star, Samantha Smith).