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Jack Wagner Biography

Home > Actors > W > Wagner, Jack > Biography

Birth Name: Jack Wagner
Born: 10/03/1959
Birth Place: Washington, Missouri, USA

Jack Peter Wagner was born on Oct. 3, 1959, outside of St. Louis in Washington, MO to his father, a car salesman, and his mother, a homemaker. By the time he was 10 years old, their son was set on becoming a professional golfer. He was talented at many sports, playing on the football and basketball teams, but excelled on the green, earning the title of Missouri Jr. Champion when he was still a teen. Outgoing and popular in school, Wagner was recruited into acting by a teacher who thought he would be a good addition to a school production of "Oliver." The teacher was correct, and Wagner quickly became passionate about stage acting. After high school, he was accepted into the University of Missouri Theater Arts Program, attending the school for one year before landing a scholarship to the University of Arizona. While there, he graduated with a BFA in drama in 1982. After receiving his diploma, Wagner packed up his solid foundation in acting, singing and dancing and moved to Los Angeles with hopes of making it big.

L.A. newcomer Wagner already had a name that sounded like a leading man, so it was not long before he actually lived up to it. Only a short time after taking a job as a tour guide at Universal Studios, Wagner landed a role on the Showtime soap opera, "A New Day in Eden" (Showtime, 1982-83). The show was short-lived, but Wagner's Hollywood breakthrough was just around the corner in a place called Port Charles. In 1983, "General Hospital" was enjoying its status as the No. 1 daytime soap and the one with the most hunks per square inch - John Stamos and Rick Springfield among them. Amid concerns over Stamos' imminent departure, Wagner was cast to boost the babe factor, playing Stamos' Riff Raff bandmate, Frisco Jones. As part of the band, Wagner's role required him to do little more than sing. When it required him to sing a song called "All I Need" to an onscreen love interest, a bona fide teen idol was born. "All I Need" was released on Quincy Jones' label Qwest and soared to No. 2 on the pop charts and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts, marking the breakthrough for Wagner as both an actor and singer. Wagner went on to enjoy his high-profile, over three year run on "General Hospital," earning a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Juvenile Male in 1985. To the delight of sap fans, his scripted romance with Kristina Malandro, starring as Frisco's lover Felicia Jones, evolved into real life love and eventually marriage. He would release several more albums, parlaying his music background into a slot guest hosting for two seasons of "Solid Gold" (syndicated, 1980-88).

Wagner had accomplished an extraordinary amount of success in a relatively short time, but he was ready to broaden his range. He left "General Hospital" in 1987, hitting the road to play Tony in the touring company of "West Side Story." Based on his success with that production, he spent the following year touring as Danny Zuko in "Grease." He also began a long-term relationship with made-for-TV movies, following his debut in 1988's "Moving Target" (NBC), followed by 1989's "Swimsuit" (NBC). In 1989, he returned to his "General Hospital" dressing room, spending two more years as Frisco Jones - who had by then, naturally, made the transition from rocker to cop to spy. Frisco fans were shocked when Wagner left Port Charles again in 1991, this time to join the cast of the critically-acclaimed but floundering soap, "Santa Barbara" (NBC, 1984-1993), where he played writer Warren Lockridge until the show's demise in 1993. Wagner returned to the stage with the Neil Simon play, "They're Playing Our Song" at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera, and released his fourth album Alone in the Crowd, which included songs he had made popular on "Santa Barbara."

In 1994, Wagner forayed into primetime as Dr. Peter Burns on the over-the-top Aaron Spelling sudser, "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99). Viewers loved to hate Wagner as Burns - a slick, icy foil to Heather Locklear's manipulative maneater, Amanda Woodward. The pair's on-again, off-again relationship was a staple during the show's peak of popularity. During his steady gig with "Melrose," Wagner began to re-establish his talents as a TV host, first in 1995 with the Lifetime series, "Weddings of a Lifetime" and then taking the podium at Miss Universe pageants in 1998 and 1999. His "Melrose Place" shooting schedule also allowed him time to fire off additional TV movies, including "Lady Killer" (1995) "Frequent Flyer" (1996) and "Dirty Little Secret" (USA Network, 1998). Following the 1999 demise of "Melrose Place," the tireless Wagner headed back on stage, taking the lead role in the Broadway musical, "Jekyll & Hyde." The ever-loyal Aaron Spelling called upon him again in 2000 to helm the cast of "Titans" (NBC, 2000-01) which he did until the show ended early and unceremoniously.

After taking a shot helming his own golf-based interview show, "Off Course with Jack Wagner" (ESPN, 2002), Wagner starred in the TV film "Trapped: Buried Alive" (USA Network, 2002) before joining the cast of "The Bold & the Beautiful (CBS 1983- ) in 2003. In his role as sea captain Nick Marone, Wagner was given the opportunity to write and record more music, reviving that part of his career that had been on hold over a decade. In 2005, the same year he garnered an Emmy nomination for his work on the soap, he released his first album in years, Dancing in the Moonlight, which, like earlier releases, was centered around cuts made popular by his role on a daytime drama.

Throughout his acting career, Jack Wagner remained active in his first love: golfing. He won the Club Championship at his home course, The Bel-Air Country Club, numerous times. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 1991 and competed at the American Century (Celebrity) Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course several times, winning first prize in 2006. He also hosted the annual Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic, which raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Los Angeles. His golf handicap was zero.

Through the years, Wagner had two children with Kristina Wagner (Malandro). The seemingly storybook couple, who had began a relationship in 1985, were married in 1993, but filed for divorce in 2005. In 2007, Wagner made gossip column news for reports that he and former "Melrose Place" love interest - the newly divorced (from Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora) Heather Locklear - were dating, after the pair were photographed holding hands. "Melrose Place" fans tended to be in favor of a Wagner/Locklear pairing, while diehard "General Hospital" devotees pined for the days of Wagner/Malandro bliss. In either case, it was clear that after 25 years on soap operas, Wagner had acted so convincingly that a large percentage of the public were unable to differentiate between his plot lines and his real life. In August 2011, Wagner and Locklear became engaged, only to shock fans in November when the two split following what appeared to be a blissful four-year union. Afterwards, Locklear allegedly binged on prescription drugs and alcohol, leading to hospitalization. That was followed by an altercation between the two where both were physical with each other. The pair was called into a meeting with Los Angeles prosecutors in February 2012 to resolve the matter. Wagner and Locklear were reportedly amicable and no charges were filed.

While he was dealing with the fallout of his split with Locklear, Wagner revealed happier news in November, reporting to fans that he had been recently reunited with his long-lost daughter, Kerry, who was born to a woman he had slept with in 1988. The woman - whom Wagner referred to as a former friend - called him up nine months after their fling to announce that she had given birth to a child and that she intended to give her up for adoption. Kerry went on to be raised by foster parents in New York, while Wagner continued on, never knowing who or where she was. Twenty-three years later, Kerry hired a private investigator, who tracked down her biological parents. She slipped backstage at one of Wagner's concerts in West Palm, FL and tearfully introduced herself. After being captured by the paparazzi with a seemingly younger woman, Wagner invited Kerry on stage at a concert the next day and introduced her to his audience as his long-lost daughter. Meanwhile, Wagner was announced as one of the contestants for the 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), joining the likes of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert, and music legend Gladys Knight.