James Garner has passed away at age 86
James Garner, acclaimed actor of both TV and film, passed away on Saturday from natural causes at age 86.
Born James Scott Bumgarner, he dropped out of high school at age 16 to join the United States Merchant Marines, eventually going on to receive 2 Purple Hearts during the Korean War. His first acting opportunity came in the form of a non-speaking role in the Broadway stage play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial in 1954. Working bit parts in television and film, Garner eventually landed the co-starring role in 1957 on the western series Maverick. While Warner Bros. originally planned to alternate between the characters of Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) and Bret Maverick (Garner), Garner's charisma and penchant for humor tilted the scales in his favor. James Garner said of the character Maverick, "I'm playing me. Bret Maverick is lazy. I'm lazy. And I like being lazy."
Throughout the 1960s, Garner brought his with and charm to a number of films that utilized his comedic timing and easygoing nature, such as THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963), THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963), GRAND PRIX (1966), and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969). Garner returned to the small screen in 1974 as the character Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files, for which he won an Emmy for. The actor returned to film in the 1980s with roles that stretched his abilities as an actor. The one most notable at that time was MURPHY'S ROMANCE (1985), for which he was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
In the 1990s Garner returned for MAVERICK alongside Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, which was loosely based on the TV show. Garner appeared in various films over the next few decades, including several TV films of The Rockford Files. Younger audiences may recognize him as the actor who gave THE NOTEBOOK some weight, and helped to deliver the raw, emotional climax of the film.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters. My heart goes out to his close friends and family. Rest in peace, James. You were one of the good ones.