Hart to Hart: 5 Lessons in Love from TV’s Crimefighting Couple

Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as the uber-wealthy and so-in-love Jonathan and Jennifer Hart
Despite people trying to kill them at least once a week, Jonathan and Jennifer Hart kept their marriage steamy. A close examination of Hart to Hart (1979-1984) reveals how they did it, and how other couples can use their methods to add more romance to a relationship. (Yes, even without luxury cars, access to a private jet or money for shopping sprees at Bergdof Goodman.) 

Don’t forget the lady rancher and the cowboy.
1) Roleplay:

The countess and the ship’s steward. The lady and the chauffeur. The chemist and the industrial magnate. Over and over, the Harts assume different identities that not only help them solve crimes but add spice to their love life.

“Careful, you’ll expose me,” Jennifer says while undercover.

“I only expose you in private,” Jonathan answers. (Aside: I cannot believe the number of absolutely filthy insinuations that snuck past the censors of 1980s television.)

Harts don’t do rental skis.
2) Participate in the Same Hobbies:

For Jonathan and Jennifer, breaking and entering is foreplay. I wouldn’t recommend this tactic, for obvious reasons, but they’re often involved in each other’s more sedate interests, too, such as rare coins, rare stamps, baseball cards, and polo. And when Jennifer commits to a new “health regimen,” Jonathan is interested in the details. True, that’s because people are trying to hypnotize Jennifer into becoming a cat burglar, but still, the lesson is that they pay attention to what the other enjoys.

Chef’s been murdered? Picnic instead!
3) Be Spontaneous:

Airline strike cancels the flight? An opportunity for a romantic train ride. Free weekend? Surprise the wife for a trip up the California coast. The Harts’ spontaneous activities usually involve them in murder but, hopefully, most couples can avoid this little snag. The point is that setbacks are viewed as opportunities, and free time is viewed as a chance to try something new.

Heck, Jennifer even viewed Jonathan’s temporary loss of memory as a chance to freshen up their lovemaking.

4) Dress Up For Each Other

Unlike most couples, the Harts never seem to hang around in sweats or eat dinner in their t-shirts. I wouldn’t go to this extreme (love my Wonder Woman hoodie), but there’s something to be learned from how they make meals with each other an event.

Even at home, they make an effort to be presentable, as if they’re on their first date.

The Harts and their factotum Max (Lionel Stander)
5) Be Happy to See Each Other

The Harts are always greeting each other with a kiss and/or a hug, even if they’ve only been apart for a few hours. They’re always intensely aware of each other while they’re in the same room, and they’re always pleased when the other arrives.

This is how they fell into roleplaying the chauffeur and the lady. Jonathan, through a series of events, was mistaken by a hitwoman for Max, their driver and general houseman. She insisted “Max” drive her to his home. Jennifer, of course, greeted her husband with a hug and a kiss, leading the hitwoman to conclude “Max” and Jennifer were having an affair. I’m fairly certain most couples won’t have to worry about the hitwoman but the point stands: joy at seeing someone goes a long way.

Jonathan and Jennifer are genuinely interested in how each other spent the day and actually listen to what the other says. And that’s bound to make any marriage better.


It’s impossible for most people to replicate the Harts’ lifestyle of exotic travel, meals at fancy restaurants, luxury cars with vanity license plates, or their hobby for murder (whew on that last one!) but it’s absolutely possible to take lessons from how Jonthan and Jennifer relate to each other, how they appreciate each other every day, and how they take joy in each other’s company.

I like to think this is the Harts as an older couple, still eye-sexing each other.

I’m not the only one who believes the Harts are worth emulating, even in the modern-day. Check out Adam Scott and Amy Poehler’s perfect recreation of the title sequence to Hart to Hart. That looks fun. And romantic.


2010 Paley Center image of Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers via PacificCoastNews.com

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog atWired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.

Read all posts by Corrina Lawson for Criminal Element.


  1. Clare 2e

    I loved this show, and it only occurred to me later how often they had to spend posed with Stefanie Power’s perfectly pert nose just inches from Robery Wagner’s. Have any couple of actors worked so long in such constant close proximity? I can’t think of any off-hand. Great post!

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