rip, james garner


Sad news from the west coast this morning:

James Garner, Witty, Handsome Leading Man, Dies at 86

James Garner, the wry and handsome leading man who slid seamlessly between television and the movies but was best known as the amiable gambler Bret Maverick in the 1950s western “Maverick” and the cranky sleuth Jim Rockford in the 1970s series “The Rockford Files,” was found dead in his California home on Saturday night, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed on Sunday. He was 86.

Sad news, indeed. I’ve always been a huge James Garner fan. I watched The Rockford Files when it first aired in the 1970s. It was, in my opinion, the best PI show ever. Later, I discovered Maverick, a western that had more comedy than shootouts. Then there were the movies; Support Your Local Sheriff, Support Your Local Gunfighter (they were essentially the same movie with several plot elements reworked), and The Great Escape. In his later years came Victor Victoria, Space Cowboys, and the big screen adaptation of Maverick. Garner just had this laid back screen presence that made him slip effortlessly into any role he played.

Here are a few of my favorite James Garner scenes. This one is from Support Your Local Sheriff:

Testing some moonshine for a 4th of July celebration in The Great Escape:

Jim Rockford, having at it with his frequent foil, Lt. Chapman:

And here’s a compilation of the answering machine messages from the first season of The Rockford Files:

11 thoughts on “rip, james garner

    • A lot of shows from the 70s don’t hold up well, but The Rockford Files really does. I have a few seasons on DVD. I’m going to have to get them out and watch them again sometime soon.


      • Mine are on VHS! I might consider converting them, though I still have 2 VHS players so I can watch them,

        Thank you for your post. It made me smile and the part of my brain that remembers hours pleasure watching him, felt good. Have fun watching those DVDs!! 🙂


  1. I think I might agree about Rockford Files being one of the best of the PI shows. The 70’s was an era of each PI having some sort of shtick, Barnaby Jones: pod, Cannon: fat, and so on. Jim Rockford’s shtick was that he was getting beat up and knocked unconscious almost every episode, and his dad was a regular character. I think he was the first cop/PI that actually showed an adult with parents and parent issues. Common now of course, but groundbreaking then.


  2. John D.:
    There will NEVER be another like him…as is the case with SO many of the classic actors and actresses.
    Glad you posted a video of one of those answering machine calls…lol.
    Good job.

    Roll safe out there.


  3. He had a great life. From an abusive upbringing in Oklahoma to getting two Purple Hearts in Korea to a TV and movie career to racing cars. He did it all and maintained that sort of affability that more guys these days should strive for. RIP


  4. Fine tribute, John. Garner was one of those rare performers. So damn personable and easy-going. Everything he did seem so effortless for this handsome guy. Till one looked back and saw he’d done everything asked of him for the scene, in TV or film. Underrated as an actor, as hard-working as anyone before or after. Caught him as a kid when I got hooked watching Maverick. I for one will miss him greatly.


    • Thank you, sir. 🙂 I’ve heard it said that the best always make it look easy. James Garner certainly managed to do that. He always seemed born for any role he played. The man had talent.


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