James Garner (surname is actually Bumgarner)
has had a prolific career in feature films, television,
and commercial voice work. However, he is often overlooked
when it comes to great actors of our time. Much like
Elizabeth Montgomery and her role as Samantha on Bewitched,
Garner rose to iconic fame on the small screen even
those his career and abilities were much greater than
his role as Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files.
He personifies the tall, dark, and handsome
characteristics of such other leading men as Cary
Grant and Rock Hudson. In fact, his movies with Doris
Day are just as charming and irresistible as Hudson
favorites, such as Pillow Talk.
Day and James Garner
I really enjoy Day and Garner together
in Move Over, Darling and The Thrill of
It All. She's perfectly charming and he's a bit
of a goofball. These movies were to the 1960s what
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movies were to the 1990s (sans
Joe versus The Volcano).
Perfect Movie Couple
Garner first found success as a wisecracking
card shark in Maverick, which debuted in 1957.
He's recurred this role throughout his career. This
show is funny, but I'm not really into Westerns. He
also had success in a Western comedy movie called
Support Your Local Sheriff!.
Made Garner a TV Star
As Jim Rockford, Garner served as TV's
most humble ex-con turned detective. It's a mystery
as to why this show caught on the way it did. There
was no real violence (maybe a few gun shots fired
at a car in motion), no sex, and no swearing. You
really don't even notice it until you watch some of
the later The Rockford Files made-for-TV movies.
They are riddles with sex and violence, and are somehow
not at all effective. It's the same Jim with the same
smirk and voice, but the thrill is gone.
Rockford lived in a trailer on a Malibu
beach and his only real friends were a buffoon named
Angel and his father, whom he affectionately called
Rocky. All the show had going for it was Jim Garner
in the lead with a little bit of the wisecracking
Brett Maverick left in him, some bizarre answering
to kick off each episode, and an exciting theme song.
Rockford usually dealt with the bad guys with his
fists, once getting winded and sitting down with the
bad guy during a chase scene, and also with his brown
Firebird, which he managed to wreck in almost ever
episode (California license plate: 853 OKG). The show
ran from September of 1974 until July of 1980. In
1977, he won a Best Actor Emmy for this role. Thanks
to TV LAND, you can still watch this show on cable.
During The Rockford Files, Jim
and costar Mariette Hartley found success working
for Kodak. There are some great TV ads in which the
two of them bicker. She ends up looking smart, and
he plays the fool. Hey, it's what he does best and
this chick digs it! Garner's commercial work also
includes the big 80s "Beef: It's what's for dinner"
voice work, which he stopped doing after having a
Today, Garner does voice work for Chevrolet's
trucks with the "Like a Rock" tagline in
reference to his character, Jim Rockford.
My favorite Garner movies include: The
Children's Hour, The Americanization of Emily
(his personal favorite), The Thrill of It All,
Move Over, Darling, and the recent hit movie
Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood.
Interesting Facts About Jim:
in the Late 1950s
He was born on April 7, 1928 (another Aries)
in Norman, Oklahoma.
His mom died when he was 5 years old and his
stepmother was evil.
He is a high school dropout (age 16).
He is part Cherokee Indian.
He was awarded two Purple Hearts in the Korean War.
In 1950, he was the first man from the state of Oklahoma
to be drafted as an infantryman. He served 14 months
and received the awards for injuries he suffered in
When he was a teen, his nickname was "Slick."
He modeled swim trunks for Jantzen Sportswear after
moving to California.
He is a liberal Democrat, but found humor and joy
in playing a conservative judge quite opposite of
himself in the TV show First Monday.
Her really would grab someone and throw them up against
a wall when he felt they were a conartist. He once
did this on the lot when another producer used a theme
song too similar to The Rockford Files theme.
He married Lois Clarke during the height of his fame
and has stayed married to her.
He is 6' 3" and weighed 206 lbs. when he was
at his prime (Maverick).
He was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards
in 1985 for Murphy's Romance opposite Sally
He has one daughter that he raised from Lois's
previous marriage and a younger daughter, Greta. "Ever
since I was little," Greta explains, "everyone has
called me by my nickname, which is "Gigi." My mom
wanted that to be my first name, but my dad said that
would be OK if I grew up to be a stripper, but if
I grew up to be a rocket scientist that 'Dr. Gigi
Garner' didn't sound very professional! So, now that
I am grown up, I switched to my real name, which is
Greta." Greta Garner is an book author, wrote three
number one songs in the U.K, and is a licensed private
investigator. For more information, click here.
People magazine once
called him "the last real man." Amen.