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Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner


Actor James Garner has just died, at 86. He starred in The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974 to 1980.

Throughout his career Garner played characters who maintained their common sense despite being surrounded by all types of insanity. In Maverick, he played a card shark who didn't like to unsling his gun, and would always talk his way out of a fight if possible.

In The Rockford Files, he played a private eye who lost half the fights he (unwillingly) got into, and associated with a lot of lowlifes, but always had a pithy comment to accurately summarize whatever situation he found himself in.

In his favorite role, in The Americanization of Emily (opposite Julie Andrews), Garner played a cynical procurer who is reluctantly forced into the role of hero during WWII.

Hollywood has a long history of hiring cosseted body-builders to play tough soldiers, pretentious dummies to play geniuses, and homosexuals to play heterosexuals. Still, it's hard not to believe there was something in Garner that he imparted to all those charming, quick-witted, and cynical characters.

A big thanks to James Garner for all the pleasurable hours I spent watching The Rockford Files.

7 comments:

Quartermain said...

He was great in the Rockford Files and in My Name is Bill W,

Anonymous said...

I loved watching the Rockford Files as a girl. His character was very likeable, funny, etc. I read a biography a year or so ago about James Garner. He did not have an easy childhood - he turned out to be a great guy, a man who could stand up for himself (when he knew he was being screwed, taken advantage of, being good at business). May he rest in peace.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
I was surprised when I read about his childhood too. Often that kind of background results in a twisted personality, but he seems to have escaped unscathed. I guess he had a strong bond with his real mother, who died when he was 5, that made him who he was, and more than compensated for his later abuse at the hands of his stepmother.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I'm aware of the "evil stepmother," (having read about her via his Wiki profile). If I remember correctly, I think that he had some Indian blood in him, thus, the dark eyes and dark hair. He was a good soul, handsome. I enjoy reading autobiographies/biographies about certain people (those who interest me) and I think that I possibly read his autobiography. I was impressed by his overall character.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie.
Agreed.

His maternal grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee, so his claim is legit, unlike the claim of that other Oklahoman, Elizabeth Warren.

Quartermain said...

Here is an article you may find of interest:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/james-garner-anti-authoritarian-everyman/

John Craig said...

Allan --
Thank you, that was a great article. Gancarski captured Jim Rockford -- and James Garner -- perfectly.