I came into possession of a box of fan mail to Robert Wagner sent in 1957. It contained envelopes from all around the world, comprising about 150 envelopes with letters, about 250 envelopes only and about 30 envelopes with letters that had never been opened.
I decided to make my 2014 Valentines “Letters to Robert Wagner.”
Each envelope seemed to be its own piece of art. The handwriting, the placement and layout of address, stamp and cancellation stamp varied widely from envelope to envelope.Even the typewritten letters have an incredible amount of personality. To this I added my own stamp that said “Timeless Love” – sometimes to the front of the envelope and sometimes to the back, depending on how it would interact or interfere with the original design. And then I sent them back around the world for Valentine’s Day. The majority of them came from Argentina, but there were occasions I could send some back to their country of origin.
Those with letters were sometimes just a simple request for a photo and sometimes more. The letters came in all shapes and sizes, all different kinds of papers, including the above which was a simple piece of paper, typed on 2 sides, folded and sealed with the stamp on the back. Having sent fan mail myself when I was a teenager, I completely empathize with these fans’ expectations of a personal response.
The letters that were unopened were especially fascinating. I sent them with a note saying that they had never been opened and leaving it to the recipient to decide whether to open it or not. I struggled at first with the fact that some of my valentine recipients would receive envelopes with letters, and some would only receive empty envelopes. But I found the envelopes so beautiful and their emptiness made them equally poignant. What did they contain? How much love did they reveal?
I wonder about the people who wrote these letters. If they’re still alive, do they still care about Robert Wagner? Given that I still have a weak spot for the actors I once loved, my guess is yes.
n.b. Robert Wagner’s birthday is Feb. 10.