Sad news today for fans of classic American television as actor James Garner, star of the 1950’s comedy Western “Maverick” and the iconic lead role of Jim Rockford in “The Rockford Files,” has passed away at the age of 86 of natural causes.
In 1957, Garner became the star of the ABC Western “Maverick,” which ran until 1962, then 12 years later, Garner was back on television in the hugely popular NBC detective show “The Rockford Files” which ran until 1980. Garner then reprised his role as Bret Maverick in the short-lived attempt to revive his earlier Western with “Bret Maverick.” He also starred opposite Mel Gibson in the big screen version of “Maverick” in 1994. Between the three series, Garner received seven Emmy nominations, only winning once in 1977. He received seven more Emmy nominations, but only won one in 1987 for his producer role on the mini-series “Promises.”
Garner didn’t win any of his four Golden Globe nominations for playing Jim Rockford, although he would receive six more nominations, winning two Golden Globes in the early ’90s for the TV movies Decoration Day and Barbarians at the Gate.
Although Garner was best known for his television work, that did not stop him from appearing in movies, as he starred in over 50 films including 1986’s Murphy’s Romance, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Some of his other better known roles including one opposite Steven McQueen in The Great Escape (1963), starring opposite Julie Andrews in The Americanization of Emily (1964), and playing Wyatt Earp in Hour of the Gun (1967).
Some of Garner’s later film roles including one in the popular romance film The Notebook in 2004 and the spiritual drama The Ultimate Gift three years later. Western worlds collided when Garner appeared alongside Clint Eastwood, the star of the other big vintage Western show “Rawhide,” for the filmmaker’s 2000 hit Space Cowboys.
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