As a long-time fan, I‘ve greatly admired James Garner‘s legendary career spanning over 50 incredible years in Hollywood. Here‘s an overview of this icon‘s renowned life and career:
|Full Name||James Garner|
|Birthday||April 7, 1928|
|Death Date||July 19, 2014|
|Relationship||Married to Lois Clarke|
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1928 as the youngest of three sons, James Garner lost his mother when he was just four years old. After dropping out of high school in 1945, Garner joined the United States Merchant Marine at age 16, serving for over a year on a ship in the Pacific. Once back home, he finally earned his high school diploma.
When the Korean War began in 1950, Garner was drafted into the U.S Army. He served 14 months in Korea, suffering two injuries that earned him Purple Hearts. After being discharged from the Army in 1954, Garner decided to move to Los Angeles and dive into acting – a wise choice that led to his eventual stardom.
Starting out, Garner landed roles in commercials and small TV parts. His film debut came in 1956‘s "Toward the Unknown", but his big break was just around the corner.
“Acting is easy if you can imagine yourself as the character. I’ve never had any trouble doing that.” – James Garner
Rise to Fame as Bret Maverick
In 1957, Garner landed the role that shot him to fame – playing gambler Bret Maverick in the hit ABC Western series "Maverick". As the witty and charming anti-hero Maverick, Garner became an instant star and household name. His natural likeability and comedic talent on the show earned him his first Emmy nomination in 1958.
In my opinion, James Garner‘s portrayal of Bret Maverick is one of the most legendary roles in television history. The series ran for 5 seasons and cemented Garner‘s status as a leading man. Even after the show ended in 1962, the character remains an enduring pop culture icon.
Big Screen Debut and Continued TV Success
With his Maverick fame, it was only natural for Garner to transition to the big screen. He made his feature film debut opposite Doris Day and Polly Bergen in 1963‘s romantic comedy "The Thrill of It All". The following year came the war drama "The Americanization of Emily" with Julie Andrews, earning Garner his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
During the 1960s, Garner continued starring in many TV movies and series, including the lead role in "The Great Escape" (1963) and playing secret agent Jim Rockford in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (1965-1967). From 1974 to 1980 came perhaps his most famous TV role – private investigator Jim Rockford on "The Rockford Files", which earned Garner an Emmy Award in 1977.
Movie Stardom and Lasting Legacy
Though James Garner remained active on the small screen, his natural charisma increasingly led to big screen opportunities. He starred in many memorable films like "Support Your Local Sheriff!" (1969), "Victor/Victoria" (1982) with Julie Andrews, and "Murphy‘s Romance" (1985) opposite Sally Field, for which he received an Oscar nod for Best Actor.
One of my personal favorite Garner film performances was in 2000‘s "Space Cowboys" directed by Clint Eastwood. Despite being in his 70s at that point, Garner displayed his trademark charm playing retired pilot Tank Sullivan recruited for a space mission.
Well into his later years, Garner continued acting right up until his passing at age 86 in 2014. With his extensive career and wide-ranging roles, James Garner embodied the term "legend" – an icon who left an indelible mark on television and film history. His charisma, humor, and acting talent endeared him to generations of fans worldwide – including this longtime admirer.