James Garner April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014

James Garner April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014
James Garner April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014 He wanted to be remembered with a smile.

The Garner Files

The Garner Files
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Monday, October 8, 2007

Norman's James Garner To Lead State Centennial Parade

The Norman Transcript - Norman's James Garner will lead state Centennial Parade

Norman native James Garner will serve as the grand marshal of the Oklahoma Centennial Parade, officials with the Oklahoma Centennial Commission announced this week.

The prarade is scheduled for at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 14 in downtown Oklahoma City.

Presented by Noble Corporation, the parade centers around the theme, “Celebrate Oklahoma! A Unique History. An Extraordinary Future.”

The parade will fill downtown Oklahoma City streets with floats, giant helium-filled balloons of state icons and children's favorite characters, performance groups and marching bands.

“Throughout the years, James Garner has been a wonderful ambassador for our state, not only spreading the word about his home state, but also returning frequently to contribute to Oklahoma projects,” said Lee Allan Smith, chairman of Centennial projects and events. “We are proud to feature this Oklahoma treasure in the parade of a century.”

Best known for his roles in television's Maverick and Rockford Files, Garner was born on April 7, 1928 in Norman.

His father, Weldon Bumgarner, was of European ancestry and his mother, Mildred, was one-half Cherokee. After a brief stint in the Merchant Marines at 16-years-old, Garner moved to Los Angeles to join his father.

After serving in the Army during the Korean War, Garner — who won two purple hearts — decided to try his hand at acting. His first on-camera appearance was with Clint Walker on the TV series Cheyenne. His feature film debut came in Toward the Unknown.

He also gave an acclaimed performance as Marlon Brando's friend in the hit film, Sayonara, which led to his first big break - the starring role in the television series Maverick, which brought him true stardom. He shortened his last name to “Garner,” after a studio miscredited him in a film.

Since then, he has starred in roughly 40 films, including The Children's Hour, The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily (his personal favorite), Grand Prix, Cash McCall, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Great Escape, Move Over, The Notebook, Support Your Local Sheriff, The Skin Game, The Thrill of It All, Victor/Victoria. Next up for Garner will be the 2008 release of the animated feature Terra in which he is the voice of the character Doron.

Garner has also received his share of state honors.

In 1986, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and three years later, was named Ambassador of Cultural Arts for the State of Oklahoma. Graner was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in March 1990 and received the Western Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television from the Gene Autry Museum.

In 1995 he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of Oklahoma. In April 2006 a statue of Garner depicting him as “Maverick” was created by the noted artist, Shan Gray. A Centennial project, the statue is now a destination for visitors from all over the world.

The Centennial Parade is free and open to the public. For information about the parade route, parking and shuttles, please visit www.okcentennialparade.com.