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James Garner Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (104) | Personal Quotes (12) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 7 April 1928Norman, Oklahoma, USA
Date of Death 19 July 2014Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (acute myocardial infarction)
Birth NameJames Scott Bumgarner
Nickname Slick
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s.

James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman, Oklahoma, to Mildred Scott (Meek) and Weldon Warren Bumgarner, a carpet layer. He dropped out of high school at 16 to join the Merchant Marines. He worked in a variety of jobs and received 2 Purple Hearts when he was wounded twice during the Korean War. He had his first chance to act when a friend got him a non-speaking role in the Broadway stage play "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1954)". Part of his work was to read lines to the lead actors and he began to learn the craft of acting. This play led to small television roles, television commercials and eventually a contract with Warner Brothers. Director David Butler saw something in Garner and gave him all the attention he needed when he appeared in The Girl He Left Behind (1956). After co-starring in a handful of films during 1956-57, Warner Brothers gave Garner a co-starring role in the the western series Maverick (1957). Originally planned to alternate between Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) and Bret Maverick (Garner), the show quickly turned into the Bret Maverick Show. As Maverick, Garner was cool, good-natured, likable and always ready to use his wits to get him in or out of trouble. The series was highly successful, and Garner continued in it into 1960 when he left the series in a dispute over money.

In the early 1960s Garner returned to films, often playing the same type of character he had played on "Maverick". His successful films included The Thrill of It All (1963), Move Over, Darling (1963), The Great Escape (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964). After that, his career wandered and when he appeared in the automobile racing movie Grand Prix (1966), he got the bug to race professionally. Soon, this ambition turned to supporting a racing team, not unlike what Paul Newman would do in later years.

Garner found great success in the western comedy Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969). He tried to repeat his success with a sequel, Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), but it wasn't up to the standards of the first one. After 11 years off the small screen, Garner returned to television in a role not unlike that in Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969). The show was Nichols (1971) and he played the sheriff who would try to solve all problems with his wits and without gun play. When the show was canceled, Garner took the news by having Nichols shot dead, never to return in a sequel. In 1974 he got the role for which he will probably be best remembered, as wry private eye Jim Rockford in the classic The Rockford Files (1974). This became his second major television hit, with Noah Beery Jr. and Stuart Margolin, and in 1977 he won an Emmmy for his portrayal. However, a combination of injuries and the discovery that Universal Pictures' "creative bookkeeping" would not give him any of the huge profits the show generated soon soured him and the show ended in 1980. In the 1980s Garner appeared in few movies, but the ones he did make were darker than the likable Garner of old. These included Tank (1984) and Murphy's Romance (1985). For the latter, he was nominated for both the Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Returning to the western mode, he co-starred with the young Bruce Willis in Sunset (1988), a mythical story of Wyatt Earp, Tom Mix and 1920s Hollywood.

In the 1990s Garner received rave reviews for his role in the acclaimed television movie about corporate greed, Barbarians at the Gate (1993). After that he appeared in the theatrical remake of his old television series, Maverick (1994), opposite Mel Gibson. Most of his appearances after that were in numerous TV movies based upon The Rockford Files (1974). His most recent films were My Fellow Americans (1996) and Space Cowboys (2000) .

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana < tony.fontana@spacebbs.com> and pchemoc389@rogers.com

Spouse (1)

Lois Fleishman Clarke (17 August 1956 - 19 July 2014) (his death) (2 children)

Trade Mark (3)

His voice was heard at the beginning of every episode of The Rockford Files (1974) on the outgoing message for Jim Rockford's answering machine.
Personally honest, wisecracking, self-deprecating, reluctant, naturally masculine hero.
Deep gravelly voice

Trivia (104)

Had both knees replaced (2000).
Had quintuple heart bypass surgery (1988).
James had English and some German ancestry. James's maternal grandfather, Charles Bailey Meek, was described in James's New York Times obituary as a "full-blooded Cherokee". However, James's grandfather had no documented Native American ancestry, and Charles Meek and his own parents, Thomas Jefferson Meek and Delilah Frances Bailey, were all listed as "White" on United States Censuses.
Has two older brothers: Jack Garner and Charlie Bumgarner. Jack died in 2011 and Charlie died in 1985.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1990.
Early in his career, he appeared as one of the judges in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" on Broadway. He said his part consisted mostly of listening to the other actors, and he said it was a great lesson, even though he sometimes had to fight to stay awake during the evening performances. He felt listening was just as important as speaking as an actor.
Before he was a very successful actor, he had 75 different jobs including everything from pumping gas to modeling men's clothing.
Father of Gigi Garner, author of "The Cop Cookbook" and "Girl Talk".
He and his wife Lois Clarke were married at the Beverly Hills Court House just two weeks after they met at a political rally for 1956 Democratic Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson.
He legally adopted his eldest daughter, Kimberly, who was born during his wife's first marriage. This means Kimberly is his daughter, and not his stepdaughter, as is often reported in articles about him.
Lost his mother when he was 5, and he and his two brothers were split up and sent off to live with relatives.
Was involved with many humanitarian causes.
Was a volunteer with Save the Children.
Was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer in 1979, during filming for the 1979-1980 season of The Rockford Files (1974).
He was very disappointed about his series, The Rockford Files (1974), being cancelled due to his illness. He accepted his doctor's advice and learned that season 6 was his last.
Had helped organize the Hollywood contingent of Martin Luther King's famous "March on Washington" civil rights demonstration.
Was the first actor to co-star with Julie Andrews in three movies: The Americanization of Emily (1964), Victor Victoria (1982) and One Special Night (1999).
Was a Korean War veteran and began his career as a contract player in 1956 for Warner Brothers.
He was attending Hollywood High School in Los Angeles when his gym teacher recommended him for a job modeling Jantzen bathing suits. He got the job making $25 an hour.
Had starred on three popular television series: Maverick (1957) for three seasons, The Rockford Files (1974) for six seasons, and 8 Simple Rules (2002), for two seasons.
Had played two different characters named Jim who served in the Korean War: Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files (1974) and Jim Egan in 8 Simple Rules (2002).
Of all his films, The Americanization of Emily (1964) was his favorite.
Enjoyed great celebrity with his Polaroid commercial series with Mariette Hartley, which started in 1977. He and Mariette were so convincing as husband and wife that Mariette had a T-shirt made that proclaimed, "I am not James Garner's wife!". More than 300 commercials were produced.
Is a huge fan of the Oakland Raiders. Could be seen on sidelines with the team during games.
Quit smoking following his quintuple heart bypass on April 22, 1988.
Inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1986.
Although Garner was a lifelong liberal Democrat, his oldest friend was a conservative Republican.
He was a student of Bruce Lee's in his "jeet kune do" style of martial art, after starring with Lee in the film, Marlowe (1969).
In a 1973 interview, John Wayne named Garner as the best American actor.
Driver of pace cars at the 59th Indianapolis 500 (May 25, 1975), the 61st Indianapolis 500 (May 29, 1977), and at the 69th Indianapolis 500 (May 26, 1985).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
He was good friends with the late Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward. Garner appeared with both Newman and Woodward in various productions, although all three of them never appeared in the same production.
His hobbies included: golfing, spending time with his family, auto racing, liberal causes, political activism and watching sports.
Underwent surgery after suffering a mild stroke in May 2008 and was recovering well enough, his voice was no longer impaired, that he was able to resume voice acting parts, such as DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection (2010).
Once owned a four hundred acre vineyard in Santa Ynez California called "White Rhino" vineyard and bottled his own Chardonnay called "Chateau Jimbeaux".
In 1995, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. This was one month after bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. He was quoted as saying during his commencement ceremony speech, "If there's anything positive to come from this event, it is seeing the character, the toughness with the dignity of the Oklahoma people as they suffer the grief and carry on with their lives. It makes every Oklahoman, where ever we are, to be PROUD to be an Oklahoman.".
James Garner adopted his wife's 8 year-old-daughter, Kimberly, after he and Lois were married. About a year later, Jim's biological daughter, Gigi Garner, was born in Santa Monica, California. So, Kimberly and Gigi are 9 years apart.
Narrated the intro videos for the University of Oklahoma football team as they entered the stadium.
Has a street named after him in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma: James Garner Avenue.
Best known by the public for his starring roles as the title characters on both Maverick (1957) and The Rockford Files (1974).
On April 21, 2006, a ten foot bronze statue of Garner, as his character Bret Maverick, was unveiled in Garner's hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. He was present for the unveiling ceremony.
Had played Wyatt Earp in two movies: Hour of the Gun (1967) and Sunset (1988).
Had played the same character (Bret Maverick) on four different series: Sugarfoot (1957), Maverick (1957), Young Maverick (1979) and Bret Maverick (1981).
When speaking at the Summer Special Olympics in Norman, Oklahoma, he took the opportunity to remind the Oklahoma officials, who invited him to speak, of the circumstances of his original departure. "It's nice to be invited back as a VIP after being run out of town on a rail." This was a reference to him being "asked" to leave for his "extracurricular activities".
He was widely known to be a very private man.
The name of his most famous character, James Scott Rockford, from The Rockford Files (1974), shared his own first and middle name.
He began his film career in 1956 (the same year he got married), as a contract player for Warner Brothers, at a rate of $200 per week.
In the four years (1985-89), he was the television and radio commercial spokesman for Mazda cars, he was reportedly paid $1 million per year, plus one Mazda vehicle of his choice per year. He chose three Mazda RX-7's and one Mazda truck, all of which he was known to drive frequently.
He was absent from his role on Maverick (1957), when filming for the fourth season began, because of a contract dispute with Warner Brothers. Garner fought with the studio consistently in court, and his tenacity was rewarded at the end of 1960, when the case was decided in his favor, and the court ordered him to be released from his contract because Warner Brothers had violated several of the provisions in the contract.
James Garner passed away on July 19, 2014, at age 86, and within five months of three other legends, also born in 1928, either aged 85 or 86: Shirley Temple, Ralph Waite and Maya Angelou, and just twenty-four days before his close friend Lauren Bacall, born 1924.
Garner survived a series of health problems, from a knee operation, to a bleeding ulcer, to quintuple bypass heart surgery, to a fall, to emergency surgery to unblock an artery and finally to a stroke.
He changed his last name from Bumgarner to Garner when he became a Warner Brothers contract player. He was credited as Jim Bumgarner for his two stage roles. First as a non-speaking Member of the Court (Martial Tribunal), in the Broadway production of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial", and second, a featured speaking role in the national touring company of the same play. In part because he hated speaking in public, he never again took a stage role, and the name Bumgarner "died" when his Warner Brothers contract was signed in 1956.
James Garner passed away on July 19, 2014, at age 86, just one month before he would have celebrated his 58th wedding anniversary with his wife, Lois.
When he was starring on The Rockford Files (1974), having to appear in nearly every scene of the series, doing many of his own stunts, including one that injured his back, was wearing him out. A knee injury from his National Guard days worsened in the wake of the continuous jumping and rolling, all of which led to his 1979 hospitalization, with a bleeding ulcer.
Long lives ran in his family.
After his final two roles, DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection (2010) and Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010), both voice only roles, he completely retired from acting at age 82.
Is the youngest of three children of Weldon "Bill" and Mildred Meek Bumgarner.
Used to play golf with James Woods and Bill Bixby.
Was Roy Huggins first choice for the lead role on the Western series Cheyenne (1955), but that role eventually went to an another largely unknown actor, Clint Walker, because the casting director could not reach Garner in time (according to Garner's autobiography), and Garner wound up playing an Army officer in the pilot instead.
Acting mentor and friends with Tom Selleck.
When Charlton Heston backed out of the lead role in Darby's Rangers (1958) before shooting began, Warner Brothers contract player Garner, who had already been cast in the film in a supporting role, was selected to replace Heston in the lead.
His ex-Maverick (1957) co-star, Jack Kelly guest-starred with him in a two-part episode of The Rockford Files (1974), in 1977.
Had twice worked with Harry Morgan: in Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) and its sort of sequel, Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971).
Before his The Rockford Files (1974) co-star, Stuart Margolin, appeared with him on Rockford, they worked together on Garner's short-lived series, Nichols (1971).
Was friends with Roy Huggins, for 45 years, from 1957 until his death in 2002.
(January 7, 2004) Had suffered a fall while working on 8 Simple Rules (2002).
Was friends with Jack Kelly, for 35 years, from 1957 until his death in 1992.
At least three actresses named him as their favorite actor: Mariette Hartley, Joan Van Ark and Lauren Bacall, all three worked with him on The Rockford Files (1974).
He dropped out of Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, but was able to earn his diploma while in the United States Army.
Until 1988, he was a heavy smoker.
Was closely advised by financial adviser Irving Leonard, who also advised Clint Eastwood in the late 1950s and 1960s.
In July 1983, Garner filed suit against Universal Studios for $16.5 million (USD) in connection with an ongoing dispute from The Rockford Files (1974). The suit charged Universal with "breach of contract; failure to deal fairly and in good faith; fraud; and deceit". It was eventually settled out of court in 1989. As part of the agreement Garner could not disclose the amount of the settlement, but frequently told the story about his wife, Lois, having to remind him to wipe the silly grin off his face.
He sued Universal, a second time, for $2.2 million regarding syndication royalties. The suit charged the studio with "deceiving him and suppressing information about syndication". He was supposed to receive $25,000 for each episode running in syndication, but Universal charged him "distribution fees", which was not in the contract. He also felt that the studio did not release the show to the highest bidder for the episode reruns [1998].
At Norman High School, he played football, basketball, golf, and competed in track.
Was separated from Lois in 1979, primarily because he was pushing himself too hard and abusing his body while shooting The Rockford Files (1974). Garner was hospitalized in 1979 with an ulcer and other health problems, which eventually caused the cancellation of The Rockford Files, but Lois did not forgive him until they reconciled in 1982.
Relaunched his career as a contract player for United Artists in 1961, after successfully suing Warner Brothers in 1960 to be released from his contract for Maverick (1957).
Was a celebrity spokesperson for the Office of Energy Conservation in the 1970s, through the Advertising Council's Public Service Announcement (PSA) television and radio commercials.
Frequently had drinks with Bill Bixby.
Lindsay Wagner was the primary guest star on the very first episode of The Rockford Files (1974). Through much of the 1980s, James Garner and Lindsay Wagner were considered the king or queen, respectively, of quality television movies and miniseries of that period.
Even though his Cherokee Productions was the production company, or even part owner, of many of his movies and television series (in the case of The Rockford Files (1974), Cherokee owned 37.5% of the series) between 1965 and 1980, more often than not, he chose not to be listed in the on-screen credits as a producer.
Garner never shaved the hair off his chest for any of his shirtless scenes.
Ten days after his passing, numerous news sources reported that the Los Angeles County Coroner listed "acute myocardial infarction" (massive heart attack) as the official cause of his death.
Upon his death, he was cremated at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles, California, and his ashes were given to his family.
Beat out Robert Blake for the lead role on The Rockford Files (1974).
Lived in the same house for nearly 58 years, from 1956 until his passing in 2014.
Had joked that the secret to his long-running marriage to Lois was learning the two words, "Yes, Dear!".
While starring on The Rockford Files (1974), he invited many of his longtime friends and new actors to the set.
Shared the same birthday as R.G. Armstrong, who was 11 years Garner's senior. Armstrong guest-starred with Garner on an episode of Maverick (1957).
In 2008, he was planning to come out of retirement from on camera roles when he was cast in NCIS (2003), but having a stroke soon after being cast, prevented him from doing it. The role was ultimately given to Ralph Waite, who was also born in 1928, but whose health was holding up rather better at that time. In the end, Waite passed away five months before Garner.
His eldest daughter, Kimberly, had suffered polio.
Replaced John Ritter early in the second season of 8 Simple Rules (2002), when Ritter passed away in 2003.
Met Doris Day in the romance comedy Move Over, Darling (1963). The two remained close friends for over 50 years.
During the filing of Grand Prix (1966), it was discovered that James Garner was actually too tall for Formula One racing. In order to fit in the cars, the seats had to be removed and Garner sat on the frame with just a towel or a mat protecting his posterior. Additionally, the roll bars needed to be removed and fitted with taller bars, so they would look realistic and not be noticeably shorter than the top of his helmet.
James Garner passed away on July 19, 2014. A month after his passing, his lifelong best friend, Lauren Bacall died the month before what would have been her 90th birthday. Both Garner and Bacall had worked together on an episode of: The Rockford Files (1974), and in two movies: HealtH (1980) and The Fan (1981).
He considered his first director, Charles Laughton, to be his acting mentor.
When he was very young, he lived with his family in the back of his father's country store, in the tiny hamlet of Denver, Oklahoma, which consisted of one building, the country store, and a population of only five persons, his parents, his two brothers and himself. Denver, Oklahoma no longer exists, since it was flooded in order to create Lake Thunderbird, an Oklahoma state reservoir.
He was Oklahoma's very first draftee for the Korean War.
He called his friend John Hodiak by the nickname "Hody".
Had appeared on the front cover of TV Guide 13 times.
He nearly lost his leg, but he had emergency surgery to unblock an artery. [1998].
Robert Fuller's son, Rob, lived not too far away from him.
At age 17, Garner, along with his father, moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1945, where he was voted the most popular student.
Lifelong resident of Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.

Personal Quotes (12)

About everything I ever have done, in the way of lawsuits against studios, I've won them all, because I was right every time.
Marriage is like the Army; everyone complains, but you'd be surprised at the large number of people who reenlist.
[Asked if he would ever do a nude scene] I don't do horror films.
[on his conflicts with Warner Brothers, in relation to his contractual obligations to the television series Maverick (1957)] They really stuck it to me. I was young and dumb. I said a couple things about being under contract that they didn't like, like that I felt like a ham in a smokehouse. They were waiting to get back at me by laying me off. We went to court and got out of my contract. I didn't want somebody in an office guiding my career. If I had a failure, I wanted it to be my failure. If I had a success, I wanted it to be my success.
I'm a Spencer Tracy-type actor. His idea was to be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth. Most every actor tries to make it something it isn't looks for the easy way out. I don't think acting is that difficult if you can put yourself aside and do what the writer wrote.
I don't like to speak in public. It scares the devil out of me.
I got into the business to put a roof over my head. I wasn't looking for star status. I just wanted to keep working.
[on his role as Bret Maverick] I'm playing me. Bret Maverick is lazy: I'm lazy. And I *like* being lazy.
(on the passing of his good friend Paul Newman) This is such a sad time, I am truly devastated and there are just not enough words to express my sorrow.
(on Steve McQueen) Steve was my neighbor for some time, I called him "Crazy McQueen", because, quite frankly, he was crazy. We were friends, but he wanted to play my part in Grand Prix (1966) and because of that we didn't talk for four years. He wasn't a great actor, but he was a star - McQueen had probably the highest amount of star quality I've ever seen in an actor.
[When he entered Hollywood High School at the time his gym teacher recommended him for his modeling job]: I made 25 bucks an hour! That's why I quit school. I was making more money than the teachers. I never finished the ninth grade.
[Who asked Melissa Gilbert warily]: How long does the speech have to be? Well, this will be shorter than others.

Salary (1)

The Rockford Files (1974) $100,000 per 1 hour episode

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