Jack Wagner and Kristina Wagner – to detractors, they’re a couple who got a little to caught up in living out their fictional characters’ story in the real-world; to fans, they’re an exemplifier of relationship goals.
How Did Jack and Kristina Wagner Meet?
When 22-year old Kristiana Malandro learned that she had been cast on the ABC medicine-tinged daytime drama series General Hospital and that she would be paired opposite Jack Wagner and his character, Frisco Jones, she quickly got to work.
“I tuned in to watch him,” she recalled. “The first time I ever saw him he was doing a love scene with Tania [Hilary Edson]. Jack’s always been a heartthrob.”
After only a few months of play-acting, Kristina realized that something extra special existed between her and her co-star. “I do believe there is such a thing as chemistry,” she explained to Oprah Winfrey in a 2016 interview.
“I don’t think it’s something you can create as an actor. I do believe it’s something that happens or it doesn’t happen. It’s just a lucky situation that Jack and I were paired up and there was chemistry — on-camera and off-camera.”
First Comes Love, Then…
That off-camera chemistry resulted in an on-again, off-again romance that Kristina remembers didn’t get truly serious until “I got pregnant. Well, maybe a couple of months before.” On September 4, 1990, they welcomed a son, Peter, and moved in together. But according to Kristina, “there were a lot of emotional ups and downs for us.”
Amongst the many downs was a separation that lasted for eight months. In December of 1993, the couple decided to take the matrimonial plunge. The ceremony was held at Love Wedding Chapel in Lake Tahoe, California – a destination the couple reached via a rented Learjet. One year later, they welcomed another son, Harrison, into their family.
Jack and Kristina Wagner Call It Quits
By the early 2000’s, the state of the Wagner marriage was best described as rocky. In February of 2001, Kristina filed a petition for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences,” but the resulting papers were never signed and they entered 2004 reconciled – though it would be short-lived. One year later, another petition was filed and the divorce granted.
Reflections and Reunions
While many exes spend their post-divorce years growing increasingly imbittered towards one another and the circumstances that precipitated the dissolving, that isn’t the case for the Wagners.
Jack likened the union to an “amazing ride,” and admitted to being, “grateful for every day of it,” and, “learning a lot from it.” For her part, Kristina credits the ending with making her a better person.
Per her interview with Winfrey, “I think the divorce was the best thing that could have happened to me. And for my children as well because I don’t think I was being a good mother at the time either. I wasn’t making good choices.”
And in spite of their split, the duo continued to work together as co-parents and co-stars, though the latter style of collaboration was a bit of an adjustment.
Their first re-pairing took place on General Hospital in 2013 – in recognition of the show’s 50th anniversary – when Jack briefly reprised his character, Frisco, but it turned out to be a reunion that Kristina wasn’t prepared for.
In an interview, she decried Jack’s guest spot as one of, “the biggest disappointments…in my career.” In way of explanation she offered, “I wasn’t completely ready for him, to work with him face to face. I wasn’t in the proper place of my recovery with him — because this has been a long journey, my recovery with our personal relationship.”
However, by 2015, all the issues between the two had been settled and this newfound comfortability with each other set the stage for the next chapter in their professional relationship – well, that and the nostalgia that their GH counterparts still invoked.
As explained by Jack in an interview with The Associated Press, he was asked by new boss Bill Abbott [the president and CEO of Hallmark, the network where Jack’s latest project When Calls the Heart airs], “What do you think of working with Felicia?’
When the actor wondered, “‘Do you mean (my ex-wife) Kristina?” he was told, “I don’t know her name. I just know I want Frisco and Felicia on this show.” It was a want that was granted, and Kristina debuted as Nora Avery, the — what else? — estranged and future ex-wife of Jack’s character Bill.