Monday, July 21, 2014

James Garner: 1928-2014

Actor James Garner has passed away at the age of 86.

A veteran of the Korean War and recipient of the Purple Heart, the Oklahoma-born James Garner used his Golden-age-of-Hollywood good looks and distinctive voice to help empower a career which would span over five decades on television and in film.

In television, Garner starred in two very successful series, starting with ABC’s Old West-set MAVERICK (1957-1960), and later in NBC’s detective drama THE ROCKFORD FILES (1974-1980). He was able to make the usually difficult transition from the tube to celluloid with great success. His talent would earn him roles opposite Marlon Brando in SAYONARA (1957), opposite Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963), and opposite Julie Andrews in THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964). He earned an Oscar nomination for his work in MURPHY’S ROMANCE in 1985.

Other notable roles include THE NOTEBOOK (2004), SPACE COWBOYS (2000), MY FELLOW AMERICANS (1996), MAVERICK (1994), BARBARIANS AT THE GATE (1993), FIRE IN THE SKY (1993), TANK (1984), MARLOWE (1969), and HOUR OF THE GUN (1967).

Stunt drivers would nickname the J-turn the "Rockford", inspired by an often-used move by Garner's ROCKFORD FILES character. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1990, and received the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. When he lost the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actor to Morgan Freeman in 2004, Freeman accepted the award by leading the audience in a sing-along of the original MAVERICK TV theme.


As a wee-lad growing up, James Garner seemed to be the favorite of every grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, and old(er) folk…and as the years passed it was clear why. Garner had an irresistible charm which overtook his tough-guy exterior, and he was versatile enough where he could slip into the roles of cowboy, detective, soldier, astronaut, politician, cop, corporate-man, father, and husband with the greatest of ease. He seemed to get better as he got older, and earned a reputation as the rock from which every movie he was in was built around, and that makes his career, and life…timeless.



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