Rockford's telephone number is shown to be 555-2368 during the opening credits, as his answering machine message is heard just before the music starts. This was also the phone number shown for the Ghostbusters in their in-movie ad.
The character of Rockford was originally written in an unproduced script for the ABC series Toma (1973). That script was rewritten as the pilot for the "Rockford Files." Both ABC (who initially rejected the script for "Toma") and NBC had problems with the "Rockford" scripts. Executives at both networks thought the dramatic series scripts were too funny. The writers were always ordered to take out the funny lines. The writers and eventually the star refused.
During the first season, Rockford's trailer moved twice (if the pilot movie location is included, or once if the pilot is not counted), from a parking lot located at 2354 Ocean Blvd., Los Angeles, California in the pilot (and as seen in Rockford's Yellow Pages ad in the pilot), then to just off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and finally to another Malibu location in an area known as Paradise Cove. The trailer remained at the Paradise Cove location for the remainder of the series. The second location had an address of 22968 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California, and the final location had an approximate address of 28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA., but was given the then fictional address of 29 Cove Road, Malibu.
James Garner accused Glen A. Larson of plagiarizing episodes of the show and using them for his own shows. Garner filed a complaint with the Writers Guild and Larson was fined. Larson then visited the set to make amends with Garner. According to Garner, he punched Larson so hard that he crashed through a trailer.
David Chase, a writer/producer for "Rockford," went on to create The Sopranos (1999). An episode from "The Sopranos" first season shows a scene in a retirement home where the inhabitants are watching television. We can't see what they're watching but we can hear the theme to "Rockford" playing clearly.
James Garner explained in an interview that Jim Rockford's license plate number, 853-OKG, was created by his agent at the start of the show and stands for August, 1953, when Garner got his first acting job, and OKG which stands for Oklahoma Garner, his home state.
The character of Rockford's father was named Joseph; he was named after writer Stephen J. Cannell's father, but rather than Joseph or Joe, he was most often called "Rocky," a nickname derived from his last name, not his first. The name of Rockford was used after Cannell found the name listed in the Universal Studios employee directory.
Before becoming a semi-regular, or recurring character, as Lt. Doug Chapman in the fall of 1976, at the beginning of the third season, James Luisi made a guest appearance during the latter half of season two, as a criminal antagonist of Rockford's named Burt Stryker.
The show was a co-production between the production companies owned by Roy Huggins and James Garner and Universal. Garner sued Universal claiming he was not being paid his share of the syndication profits. After several years of litigation, Universal settled with Garner. Exact terms are not known. Cherokee Productions was the name of Garner's production company, and it was known to own 37.5% of the series, leaving 62.5% to be split between Huggins company and Universal, but it was not known how much of the show was owned by each after Cherokee's share.
Besides detectives Richie Brockleman (2 episodes, 1 was a two-parter) and Lance White (2 episodes), other recurring characters on the show were bail bondsman Solly Marshall (3 episodes plus 5 other episodes as different characters, portrayed by Joe E. Tata), Becker's wife Peggy (6 episodes, portrayed by Pat Finley), reformed prostitute Rita Capkovic (3 episodes, portrayed by Rita Moreno), private investigator Vern St. Cloud (3 episodes, portrayed by Simon Oakland), mechanic turned bumbling private investigator Freddy Beamer (2 episodes, portrayed by James Whitmore Jr.), disbarred lawyer John "Coop" Cooper (4 episodes, portrayed by Bo Hopkins), Jim's ex-cellmate Gandolph "Gandy" Fitch (3 episodes, portrayed by Isaac Hayes) and parole officer turned private investigator Marcus "Gabby" Hayes (2 episodes, portrayed by Louis Gossett Jr.).
In an early episode from the first season when Jim calls the police station and asks for Dennis he calls him "Lt. Becker." The character became Sgt. Becker for the next several seasons until Dennis got promoted to Lt. later.
Rockford's friends had a number of nicknames for him. His father called him "Sonny," the policeman Dennis Becker called him "Jimbo," Angel Martin and Rita Capkovic called him "Jimmy," and Gandolph Finch's nickname for Jim was "Rockfish".
The address of Rockford's trailer was 29 Cove Road, Malibu, but the trailer was actually in a parking lot which was portrayed as either for a public beach or for a restaurant located on the opposite end of the parking lot. Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, an actual restaurant which still (as of 2014) exists, was where Rockford often went for Mexican food. Additionally, in a few episodes, there were references to Paradise Cove, or Cove Road, as the part of Malibu where Rockford lived. The address of that actual restaurant is 28128 Pacific Coast Highway (the address of the actual entry signs for both the restaurant and the development, thereby being the approximate real address for the trailer, with the fictional address of 29 Cove Road not then existing. In the time since the series ended, a "luxury" mobile home park (with prices up to $4 million) has been developed, adjacent to the parking lot for the restaurant, and overlapping the spot where Rockford's trailer was located during the series. It is named Paradise Cove MH Park, and where there is now a Cove Road within the development. As a side note, on the restaurant's website www.paradisecovemalibu.com, there is a picture of the beach (third picture in the slide show), with the distinctive promontory cliff, where Rockford often walked during the series, usually with a female guest character, or occasionally alone, when Rockford was being introspective.
The character of Richie Brockelman (portrayed by Dennis Dugan) is usually said to have first appeared on this series. But, that is not entirely true. The first appearance of the Brockelman was actually in a ninety minute movie, intended to be a pilot, entitled Richie Brockelman: The Missing 24 Hours (1976). The movie pilot was not entirely successful, and the character of Brockelman was re-introduced in 1978 on this program. The Rockford appearance led to the short lived summer series Richie Brockelman, Private Eye (1978), which ran for six episodes, and was not renewed. Other than Dugan himself, the only actor to appear on both The Rockford Files and Richie Brockelman, Private Eye was Robert Hogan, who portrayed Sgt. Ted Coopersmith. One other character appeared in both the Rockford and Brockelman series, Mr. Brockelman, Richie's father, but was portrayed by a different actor in each series.
Has appeared on many top 50 or top 100 lists of the best series of all time, and has occasionally appeared on top 10 lists. The reasons often cited were the quality of the writing and acting, but also because the show broke with so many conventions, such as Rockford not being a "glamorous" or at not always being very successful financially, not always being on friendly terms with the police, getting arrested fairly often, not always winning fights, including getting hurt, and even hurting himself when he punched someone.
There have been at least two attempts to either make a feature film or to remake the series. As of July 2014, those attempts have been unsuccessful, in large part because of the difficulty in casting the roles, especially Jim, Rocky, and Becker.