Hart to Hart is an American television series, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a wealthy couple who moonlight as amateur detectives, much in the style of Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man series of films. The series was created by writer Sidney Sheldon and produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg. It ran from 1979 to 1984 on the ABC Television Network.
The premise of the show is summed up in its famous opening lines, spoken by the character Max:
"This is my boss: Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. He’s quite a guy. This is Mrs. H – she’s gorgeous. What a terrific lady. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of them, which ain't easy, 'cause their hobby is murder."
Beginning with Season 2 onward, the opening lines were slightly changed:
"This is my boss: Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. He’s quite a guy. This is Mrs. H – she’s gorgeous. She’s one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of both of them – which ain’t easy; ‘cause when they met, it was murder."
Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) was a self-made millionaire and the CEO of Hart Industries, a Los Angeles-based global electronics conglomerate. His wife Jennifer (Stefanie Powers) was a beautiful freelance journalist. Living the jetset lifestyle, the glamorous couple spent their free time as amateur detectives and in every episode they found themselves involved in cases of smuggling, theft, international espionage, or most commonly, murder. At their opulent California estate, they were assisted by Max (Lionel Stander), their loyal, gravelly-voiced butler, cook, and chauffeur who also helped with their "cases." The Harts' beloved pet dog was a Löwchen called "Freeway," so named because he was a stray that they found wandering on the freeway. The Harts own a Mercedes-Benz 300 TD diesel wagon, a dark green Rolls Royce Corniche convertible (replacing the Series III Bentley custom cabriolet in the first season), and a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL roadster (1979 450 SL, replaced by a 1981 380 SL) with personalized California vanity plates 3 HARTs, 2 HARTs, and 1 HART respectively. The trailer also shows a side view of Jonathan Hart driving a red Dino 246 GTS. They also own a Grumman Gulfstream II private jet, which is featured at the start of each episode. Max describes the couple as well as himself at the start of each episode.
Screenwriter and novelist Sidney Sheldon had originally written a script for CBS entitled Double Twist in the early 1970s about a married couple who were also both spies. The script remained unfilmed for several years before producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg decided to update the idea for a potential television series. They offered the script to screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had by that time written several screenplays including three of the James Bond films.
Their instruction to Mankiewicz was to update the script to make it more contemporary and viable for a potential weekly series. They also told Mankiewicz that if his draft was successful, he would also be able to direct the pilot episode himself.
Mankiewicz reworked Sheldon's original script and it was renamed Hart to Hart. Mankiewicz also made his directorial debut with the pilot episode as planned, and remained a "Creative Consultant" on the series afterwards.
Spelling and Goldberg's initial choice for the role of Jonathan Hart was Cary Grant. However, Grant (who was 75 years old at the time) had effectively retired from acting some years earlier. They then decided to find a younger actor who might embody the same style and persona that Grant was famous for and offered the role to Robert Wagner. No one else was seriously considered for the role; George Hamilton had a high profile at the time and was suggested but Aaron Spelling said that if he was cast "the audience will resent him as Hart for being that rich. But no one will begrudge RJ a nickel."
ABC wanted Wagner's real life wife Natalie Wood to co-star with him as Jennifer Hart but Wagner was reluctant. Initial choices for the role of Jennifer Hart included Suzanne Pleshette, Kate Jackson and Lindsay Wagner, but Wagner suggested Stefanie Powers who had previously worked with Robert Wagner when she made a guest appearance in an episode of his series It Takes a Thief in 1970.
Wagner wanted Sugar Ray Robinson to play Max but ABC were worried about a black man playing the servant to a rich couple. Eventually they cast Lionel Stander, who had worked with Robert Wagner in an episode of It Takes a Thief. In that episode ("King of Thieves"), he also played a character named Max who was a lifelong friend.
The main title theme for the series was scored by Mark Snow.
Fashion and jewelry designer Nolan Miller, who later designed the clothes for Dynasty, is credited as the costume designer for the pilot and the first season.
The ranch-style house used for exterior filming was previously owned by actors Dick Powell and his wife, June Allyson (Powell died in 1963). Powell was an old friend of both Robert Wagner and Aaron Spelling. The actual estate, known as Amber Hills, is situated on 48 acres in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood, Los Angeles. The address of the house is: 3100 Mandeville Canyon Road, Los Angeles, USA