James Garner, ‘Rockford Files’ and ‘Maverick’ Star, Dead at 86

The actor died at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles

James Garner
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James Garner, star of long-running TV shows “The Rockford Files” and “Maverick” has died at 86.

The veteran actor was found dead at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. “He died of natural causes,” Officer Norma Eisenman of the Los Angeles Police Department told TheWrap.

A dashing, dark-haired and dark-eyed figure with a sly sense of humor, Garner played private investigator Jim Rockford from 1974 to 1980. He came back to play the character in several TV movies in the 1990s.

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He had already achieved stardom as the gun-slinging Bret Maverick from 1957-1960, and reprised that character in the 1980s. In a movie version of the show in 1994, Garner had a cameo role with Mel Gibson playing the title character.

Garner was unusual for being successful in both film and television. He starred in more than fifty films, including “The Great Escape” in 1963, Paddy Chayefsky’s “The Americanization of Emily” in 1964, Blake Edwards‘ “Victor Victoria” in 1982 and Murphy’s Romance in 1985, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

More recently he starred in the Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams hit romantic drama “The Notebook” in 2004 as the older version of Gosling’s Duke.

Also read: ‘The Notebook’ Turns 10 Years Old: Watch How Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling’s Romance Began (Video)

James Garner

The youngest of three children, Garner was born in Norman, Oklahoma. He moved to Los Angeles as a teenager with his family, and joined the Merchant Marine, later joining the National Guard. He served for seven months, then joined the Army and went to Korea for 14 months during the war. He was wounded twice and awarded the purple heart in Korea for the first injury. For the second wound, he received a second purple heart.

After landing a few roles in movies, Garner got his big break playing the role of professional gambler Bret Maverick in the comedy Western series “Maverick” from 1957 to 1960, a series that made him a household name.

James Garner The ROckford FilesBut Garner quit the series in the third season because of a dispute with Warner Brothers and turned to make numerous films instead.
Producer Roy Huggins brought Garner back to television in the 1970s as private investigator Jim Rockford in “The Rockford Files.”  He appeared for six seasons, and won an Emmy for Best Actor in 1977.He was nominated for a Best Actor award at the Oscars for his role in “Murphy’s Romance” opposite Sally Field.

Garner was married to Lois Clarke in 1956. They have a daughter Greta Garner, as well as a daughter Kim from Clarke’s previous marriage.

James Garner