James Garner

 

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.

Doris 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).

The 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!.

Maverick 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 machine messages 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 quadruple bypass.

Today, Garner does voice work for Chevrolet's trucks with the "Like a Rock" tagline in reference to his character, Jim Rockford.

Garner Today

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:

Garner in the Late 1950s

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He was born on April 7, 1928 (another Aries) in Norman, Oklahoma.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet His mom died when he was 5 years old and his stepmother was evil.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He is a high school dropout (age 16).

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He is part Cherokee Indian.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet 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 the fields.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet When he was a teen, his nickname was "Slick."

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He modeled swim trunks for Jantzen Sportswear after moving to California.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet 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.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet 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.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He married Lois Clarke during the height of his fame and has stayed married to her.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He is 6' 3" and weighed 206 lbs. when he was at his prime (Maverick).

Mysts of Avalon small bullet He was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1985 for Murphy's Romance opposite Sally Field.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet 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.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet People magazine once called him "the last real man." Amen.

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