Jack Wagner Biography

Actor, Singer(1959–)
Actor Jack Wagner rose to fame as the rocker Frisco Jones on the daytime soap opera General Hospital.

Synopsis

Actor and musician Jack Wagner was born in Washington, Missouri, in 1959. After studying acting in college, Wagner moved to Los Angeles, where he eventually landed the role of Frisco Jones on the daytime soap opera General Hospital. Wagner also made a name for himself as a recording star. The actor has since appeared in a host of stage and television productions, including the prime-time show Melrose Place.

Early Years

John Wagner was born Peter John Wagner on October 3, 1959, in Washington, Missouri. Wagner had a middle class upbringing. His father was a car salesman, and his mother was a homemaker. A gifted athlete, Wagner showed particular promise on the golf course, eventually capturing the Missouri Junior Championship in high school, which further fueled his dream of becoming a professional player. 

Along with his athletic pursuits, Wagner was also a talent on the stage. He appeared in several plays during his years at St. Gertrude School, and after graduating continued acting at the University of Missouri.

Wagner left Missouri after just a year to pursue an athletic scholarship at the University of Arizona. But while a glut of talented golfers at the school left Wagner not making the cut, he instead received $3,000 from the school's theater department following an audition. Wagner jumped at the opportunity and enrolled at the school, where he graduated in 1982 with a BFA in drama.

Set on making it in acting, Wagner immediately moved to Los Angeles after college. Shortly after arriving he nailed his first serious audition, landing the part of Clint Masterson in the short-lived cable soap A New Day in Eden. But the program was a bust and after it was canceled, Wagner spent a year waiting tables and tending bar as he searched for his next real opportunity.

Commercial Success

Wagner's big break came in 1983, when he landed the part of Frisco Jones in television's most popular daytime soap opera, General Hospital. The role required Wagner to play a rock musician, something the actor, who'd been playing guitar since he was 14, felt comfortable doing.

In a soap noted for its hunky men—John Stamos and Rick Springfield were also a part of the cast—the good-looking Wagner fit in perfectly. His fame was augmented by a recording career born from the General Hospital script. Wagner's first hit was a song written for the show. After performing "All I Need" on the show and receiving rave reviews, Wagner recorded it in 1984 for his adoring fans and watched as the single quickly became a Top 20 hit. "All I Need" was also the title of his first album.

Soon, Wagner was performing on American Bandstand and The Merv Griffin Show. In a 1984 interview with People magazine, Wagner said that he was trying to keep his sudden fame in perspective. "I came to L.A. strictly to be an actor," he said, adding, "I got the part on General Hospital because of my acting. They didn't even test my voice. I'm happening right now, but one slip is all it takes. I haven't celebrated at all."

While working on General Hospital, Wagner met and began dating his on-screen love interest, Kristina Malandro. The couple eventually married in 1993, and had two sons together before divorcing in 2005.

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