The Norman Transcript - 10/20/03The Norman Transcript
I am sure many people in Norman already know what a down-to-earth, likable, geniunly nice man James Garner is, but I had a first-hand chance to witness it this week during his visit to Norman.
And it’s true. Jim Garner really is Norman’s gem. I spoke with Mr. Garner over the phone for a short interview before his trip to Norman this weekend. His voice and geniune laugh were just as sweet as they are in all of his movies. He was very kind and cooperative to do the interview over the phone, especially since he’s known as a very private man who does not do many interviews. After our conversation, I was beaming.
Garner’s private reception at the depot Friday night was a delight for the star and for all those lucky enough to be invited. Garner graciously chatted with friends, old and new, and even strangers like myself.
Although I had talked with Mr. Garner over the phone, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce myself. I have not met many celebrities in my lifetime, but the ones I have had the pleasure of meeting always stay celebrities in my mind, not real people.When I walked up to Mr. Garner and shook his hand, I felt very at ease. He was a real person to me, a person who grew up in Norman just as I did. He smiled and told me it was nice to meet me and that he remembered our phone conversation. He and his brother Jack, who accompanied Garner on his trip to Norman, were both very gracious, appreciative and friendly to every Norman resident who came their way.
Despite the impression Garner left upon me during the reception at the depot and following at the Sooner Theatre, I know older generations who grew up during Garner’s era appreciate his visits even more. I am more familiar with his later movies such as \“Maverick,” \“Space Cowboys” and \“The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” and have missed out on his earlier works when he portrayed the Western icon Bret Maverick and the cool private eye Jim Rockford.
I missed out on \“Murphy’s Romance” and \“Victor/Victoria” at the Sooner Theatre because I had to work, but now that I’ve met Mr. Garner I have a hankering urge to rent his earlier flicks. I tend to think many people in Norman, especially those who lived in Norman during Garner’s childhood, identify with the actor’s earlier work. Not only do they identify with his early works as an actor, they identify with the person Garner was (and still is) when he roamed the halls of Norman High School and ran down the aisles of the Sooner Theatre.
What a treat to have Jim Garner revisit Norman again. This actor and Normanite spans so many generations it’s hard to think who wouldn’t know him or have seen at least one of his movies. And the added bonus? Despite the initial assumption the star is hiding under those Jack Nicholson red glasses, Norman native Jim Garner completely opens up to the people who share his memories and love of Norman.
Entertainment Editor Helen Pryor can be reached at 366-3533 or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.orgBy Helen Pryor