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
If you've read this book, click the image and tell the publisher what you thought about it. If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas message from Gigi Garner ~

Happy Holidays from the Garner's
to all of you!
My Dad is  currently in very good spirits and I  believe part of that may
have something to  do with the wonderful reception that the book has been
getting so far
Predictably,  he is somewhat surprised but, pleased that people seem to be
enjoying  it!
I wanted to  say a personal "Thank You" to his friends and fans for all
your support  ;) 
Please keep up the good work.... because  it is definitely working!
 Gigi  Garner

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JAMI FLOYD’S REVIEW got picked up on “THIRD AGE”
I know exactly how Jami Floyd felt when she admitted to some trepidation reading the memoirs of a man she had idolized most of her life. I have idolized James Garner for most of my life too, only I’m a lot older than Jami. I was a kid when Maverick hit the air in 1957, and that’s when I developed my very first crush - on James Garner.
Like Jami, as I matured my crush matured into great admiration for Jim Garner as a person and an incredibly gifted actor. Sure, he’s handsome, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There are lots of handsome men in Hollywood - maybe not as handsome as Garner, but attractive nonetheless. Still, they never moved me. I’m not a Star Chaser either, and actually there has never been another star that I would walk across the street to see - seriously. Only James Garner.
I wasn’t really worried when I started reading The Garner Files, because, while I would have been as devastated as Jami if Garner had turned out to be a self-absorbed jerk, I didn’t expect that to happen. From the first time I ever saw him in Maverick, I was absolutely sure Jim Garner was a good man. I just knew. And I was right.
The book is wonderful although it held few real surprises for an old fan like me, there were details I didn’t know of course, and I found it all interesting. There were funny parts, sad parts, and everything in between.
Through it all, though, I found that Jim Garner was exactly who I had believed him to be for all these years, only - to quote Jon Winokur - “better.”
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A Thank You To James Garner

Maverick's Daughter
mavrock1:  I just found this lovely article online and I thought I would share it  ;) Please Thank Them Before They Go: James Garner  We need to thank the people who provide good things for us to enjoy or benefit from before they go. People on this earth do wonderful things and then they fade into obscurity or pass away without anyone getting a chance to say ‘thanks’ until after it is too late for them to hear about it. It’s now time to change all that. Today, we are giving thanks to legendary American actor, James Garner. A Korean War veteran, Garner earned two Purple Hearts while serving in the U.S. Army.   The Oklahoma native was first known for his role as Bret in the 1957-1960 comedy Western series Maverick.   His 1970s series, The Rockford Files, earned him a new generation of fans and an Emmy Award for Best Actor.   His film roles over the years have included Grand Prix, The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, Murphy’s Romance, Victor, Victoria, Maverick, and Barbarians at the Gate.   After his role in Grand Prix, he owned a share of the car racing team, the American International Racers, racing at LeMans, Sebring, Baja, and Daytona.   He drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1977, and 1985.   He appeared in a memorable campaign for Polaroid with former Rockford Files co-star, Mariette Hartley.   He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.   He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1985 movie, Murphy’s Romance.   In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.   He won the Most Valuable Amateur Player at the 1990 AT&T Golf Tournament.   He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1995 from the University of Oklahoma, a school he has supported for a number of years.   In 2003, the James Garner Chair in the School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma was established.   He joined the cast of 8 Simple Rules after the untimely death of John Ritter.   In February 2005 he received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award   A statue of the actor was unveiled in 2006 in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma.    Thanks, Mr. G    Related articles The Garner Files: A Memoir (volokh.com) Why James Garner Is the Real Star of His Era (garnerphile.blogspot.com) Lessons From James Garner (garnerphile.blogspot.com)
I just found this lovely article online and I thought I would share it  ;)

Please Thank Them Before They Go: James Garner

We need to thank the people who provide good things for us to enjoy or benefit from before they go. People on this earth do wonderful things and then they fade into obscurity or pass away without anyone getting a chance to say ‘thanks’ until after it is too late for them to hear about it. It’s now time to change all that.
Today, we are giving thanks to legendary American actor, James Garner.
  • A Korean War veteran, Garner earned two Purple Hearts while serving in the U.S. Army.

  • The Oklahoma native was first known for his role as Bret in the 1957-1960 comedy Western series Maverick.

  • His 1970s series, The Rockford Files, earned him a new generation of fans and an Emmy Award for Best Actor.

  • His film roles over the years have included Grand Prix, The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, Murphy’s Romance, Victor, Victoria, Maverick, and Barbarians at the Gate.

  • After his role in Grand Prix, he owned a share of the car racing team, the American International Racers, racing at LeMans, Sebring, Baja, and Daytona.

  • He drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1977, and 1985.

  • He appeared in a memorable campaign for Polaroid with former Rockford Files co-star, Mariette Hartley.

  • He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  • He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1985 movie, Murphy’s Romance.

  • In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

  • He won the Most Valuable Amateur Player at the 1990 AT&T Golf Tournament.

  • He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1995 from the University of Oklahoma, a school he has supported for a number of years.

  • In 2003, the James Garner Chair in the School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma was established.

  • He joined the cast of 8 Simple Rules after the untimely death of John Ritter.

  • In February 2005 he received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award

  • A statue of the actor was unveiled in 2006 in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma.
Thanks, Mr. G
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Dear James Garner Fans by Gigi Garner

Dear James Garner fans,

I would like to briefly address a recent attack upon my Father by the tabloids and clear up any misconceptions regarding his “drug” use as revealed in his new memoir, “The Garner Files”

I would like you to know that my dear Father has dealt with a lifetime of chronic pain, stemming from early football injuries, to stunts gone bad, to serious life threatening injuries and illnesses.

Considering that marijuana is now a legal medication here in California, with a prescription from a doctor, it obviously does help patients suffering with serious health problems, fatal illnesses and severe and chronic pain, the same way that many other natural and synthetic medications do.

Although he is no longer using it, I admire the courage it took to admit that he did use it and that it did help him with his chronic pain. I asked him about exposing this particular issue before the book came out and he said he wanted to talk about it because  “It might help someone”. At the risk of being attacked by the tabloids, that was his sole motivating factor. 

Thank you for your support and understanding ;)
I've been saying this myself ever since Jim's book, The Garner Files - in which Jim reveals that he had used marijuana to help with chronic pain and depression. Here is a book with 300 pages filled with Jim's view of his life, some funny, some poignant, many inspiring but all coming together to show us that James Garner is indeed the man we all thought him to be. He's is one of the very few who actually is a role model, one of a kind and yes, a hero.

But, with all that to choose from a few "reviewers" who obviously didn't even read the book, and of course, the tabloids, took a laser like focus on one tiny detail - he used pot! I don't think they would have been half as worked up if Jim had revealed himself as being a serial killer. What utter crap! What unbelievable hypocrisy. The tabloids I can understand because this is what they do after all - take a minor detail and make a major story out of it. Or flat make it up, as in the last few times they mentioned Jim and they had him at death's door. I guess smoking pot is better than being dead.

My major problem however is with the "reviewers" who had not read the book and took blurbs from others who had and hung an entire point of view on that one thing. One even called the book "drug filled." Come again? I believe the entire "drug" discussion took less than one page. These so-called "critics" revealed far more about themselves than about their target, who stands head and shoulders above them. But again, they know that, which undoubtedly is the true reason for their ridiculous rantings. Small people endlessly trying to drag a big person down to their level. Never happen, you phoney-balonies, so just get over it.

Don't give it another thought, Gigi. As someone who has endured chronic pain and depression for most of my own life, I understand perfectly. I'd use it too if it helped. For those who have been fortunate to have escaped this curse, I say, "Walk a mile in our shoes." If you can make it for a mile that is.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why James Garner Is the Real Star of His Era

This incredible review of The Garner Files by Clive James is from the  December 2011 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE

The Rockford Style

Eastwood? McQueen? Why James Garner is the real star of his era.
Cherokee Productions/NBC/ Universal TV/The Kobal Collection

STAND ASIDE FOR Maverick! Stand aside again for Jim Rockford! They live forever in the shining presence of one man! Let his name ring out: James Bumgarner!
Or perhaps not. At the appropriate moment, he changed his moniker. It was his one and only fiddle with the facts. Let this neatly written and well-supplemented little book—all of his friends provide relevant stories and fond judgments—set a new standard of integrity for the genre. But for a book to have that, the subject has to have the same, or he will have falsified the facts even before fame got to him.
James Garner, you can bet on it, has never told an important lie in his life. He really is like the men he plays onscreen, even unto the modest requirements symbolized by the humble trailer that serves Jim Rockford for a residence. He is thoughtful, honest, and fundamentally gentle, although he has knocked men down when riled. On the evidence given here, one doesn’t doubt that they asked for it. One doesn’t doubt this guy at all.
Every sane person’s favorite modern male movie star, Garner might have done even better if he’d been less articulate. In his generation, three male TV stars made it big in the movies: Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and Garner. All of them became stars in TV Westerns: McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive, Eastwood in Rawhide, and Garner in Maverick. The only one of them who looked and sounded as if he enjoyed communicating by means of the spoken word was Garner. McQueen never felt ready for a film role until he had figured out what the character should do with his hands: that scene-stealing bit in his breakout movie, The Magnificent Seven, in which he shakes the shotgun cartridges beside his ear, was McQueen’s equivalent of a Shakespearean soliloquy, or of a practice session for a postatomic future in which language had ceased to exist.
As for Eastwood, he puts all that effort into gritting his teeth, because his tongue is tied. Garner could learn and deliver page after page of neat Paddy Chayevsky. If you can bear the idea of watching Eastwood struggling with a long speech, take a look at his self-constructed disaster movie White Hunter, Black Heart, in which he plays John Huston at the theoretical top of his mad male confidence: it’s like watching a mouse choke. Like McQueen, Eastwood never really left the Wild West, where little is said except by a six-gun. When McQueen and Eastwood moved up, they took the Wild West with them. Or at any rate, they took a context in which the important things are all unspoken, because nobody really knows how to speak.
Garner or his narrator could really have told us more about just how leaden-tongued modern Hollywood is. Writers like Chayevsky and Aaron Sorkin are rare cases, and the preferred way of writing is to bolt together clichés that have already been tested to near-destruction. When Garner speaks here about the marvelous Joan Hackett, he forgets to say that she spoke beautifully. Of what use was that, in a medium that spoke—still speaks—in a string of sunsets and crashed cars?
Garner, a quick study who could learn and deliver speeches long enough to make his awed listeners hold their breath to the breaking point, was the only one who seemed to enjoy producing intelligible noise. But Garner, compared with the other two, never really caught on as a big-screen leading man. Though tall and handsome, he was never remote: he had an air of belonging down here with us. As a small-screen leading man, he had done too thorough a job with the 20 or 30 good lines in every episode of Maverick or The Rockford Files to make an easy transition into a putatively larger medium that gave him many times more square feet of screen to inhabit, but many times less to say.
In a feature movie like Support Your Local Sheriff, he was charming, but his standout line of dialogue, the line that we all took home, was all that he got to take home as well. I loved that line, especially in its final variation, when he is beginning to lose patience with pests: “I’ve never made any secret of the fact that basically I’m on my way to Australia.” The tag became one of my own call signs, and I would try to get the soft richness of his voice into my own timbre. But in the movies, you just couldn’t get enough of him. When, in earlier years, he made the occasional movie that rang the bell—The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape—it was a reminder that his television shows had more of him in them. And even today—except for those movies that, in his near-retirement leisure, he has been choosing with great care, sometimes developing the entire project—you still can never quite get enough of him. Nobody ever felt that way about Clint Eastwood, because all he ever did was grit his teeth as he varied his “art” movies with thrillers, the same story made half a dozen times while he was holding the same gun, a .44 Magnum that slowly acquired the patina of the Statue of Liberty. But I digress.
Garner, though he had to nerve himself to do it, spoke wonderfully, even though he spoke against his nature. In real life, he was comparatively unforthcoming, as people who were beaten up at home during their childhood sometimes are. (More of these domestic tortures in a minute, after we get a clearer focus on the person they happened to when he was not much more than knee-high to the people hitting him.) But he positively loved to read out written words. In The Americanization of Emily, he has a long speech by Chayevsky that Eastwood and McQueen, put together, could never have finished reading even silently. Garner flew through it. As it happens, his views about dying for your country were the same as Chayevsky’s, but it wasn’t mere congruence of mind that made the matchup of writer and actor so thrilling: it was synchronicity of tone. While mourning the continued loss of The Hospital, the great movie Chayevsky wrote for George C. Scott (if the role wasn’t first conceived with Scott in mind, we can still say that he was born to play it) (where is the damned thing?), let us think for a moment of what the great writer would have done for Garner, and for all of us, if only the great writer had lived to a proper age. If Garner himself were to think too much about such things, he would go nuts. One of the secrets of maintaining a long and fruitful career is not to mourn too much for the might-have-beens.
On the evidence the ghostly Winokur provides, Garner’s early jobs were never part of a plan leading toward show business. Such plans, in America, are usually called “dreams.” To the extent that the apparently aimless and perhaps ineducable Garner had them, all the dreams must have been of his stepmother, who was fond of beating him with a spatula and made him parade around in a girl’s dress while everyone called him “Louise.” He somehow limped away from these rehearsals doing a convincing impersonation of a sane man. The war in Korea tried to kill him a couple of times but got no closer than qualifying him for two Purple Hearts, bestowed for wounds that he later made a point of shrugging off.
Honesty about himself is important to him. We feel, when reading, that he is leaving out none of his vices: he swore too much when he played golf, but only because he couldn’t bring himself to cheat. Traditionally, Hollywood stars are allowed to cheat at everything, including marriage, but Garner has quite evidently played it straight all along. (McQueen notoriously milked the budget of every movie—if the hero he was playing wore a suit, it would mean 10 more Savile Row suits for McQueen—and Eastwood, worshipped by now as a pillar of artistic integrity, has never expected himself to present the picture of faithfulness that is provided here of Garner.) The question about Garner is not whether he has really played it as straight as he says but whether he has ever played anything.
But the answer has to be yes, and the role he has played is (you guessed it) James Garner. Aside from the solid nice-guy basis provided by mother nature (or stepmother nature, if you prefer to think that a little routine homicidal mania makyth the man), he has had to make it all up. Nothing was given to him, except the looks. He had to deepen his voice (he never tells us how he did it: perhaps, in these censorious days, he prefers to omit the information that he did it the way Lauren Bacall did, by steamboating a few thousand cigarettes). Even today, he is not really comfortable speaking to a roomful of people: the camera is a way of not having to do so. (And even to the television camera, his discomfort shows if he has to speak in propria persona: in a tribute to Doris Day, he praised her devotedly, but it was obviously only the obligation of a close friendship that could make him speak at all.)
As he reveals several times during the course of this short book, he thinks actors should say what is set down for them—which rather rules out the prospect of speaking impromptu. By listening, he learned that the script is the foundation of the house. He was always a great one for learning things, and the key to that was to keep his ears cocked. In his pre-television career, when he was playing one of the silent judges in a touring company of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, he learned that listening properly to the other actors is the only way to keep your face alive for the audience. If you don’t listen, they won’t look. On set, he learned not to sit around and shoot the bull for too long with the crew: better to study the camera, treating the various parts of its façade as parts of a face. If it’s you that’s supposed to be delivering lines from offscreen, be there to deliver them on the spot instead of looping them afterward. It will sound better for you, and look better for everybody. (There are plenty of actors hiding in their trailers who don’t know that one.)
All of his skills have been improved by study—often of other actors. Fans of Henry Fonda will be glad to find that Garner copied a little dance step in Local Sheriff from My Darling Clementine. Garner is good throughout the book when speaking about most other actors, but far too generous when praising his buddy Marlon Brando. “We were both rebels” sounds like a rare instance of his normally finely tuned ghost letting the tone control slip, but there’s nothing wrong about praising Brando as long as you admit that the capacity for industrial sabotage that he brought to so many of his film sets was another form of robbery: somewhere, somebody was paying for every extra hour that Brando’s behavior cost. Still on the subject of Brando, a judgment like “best movie actor we’ve ever had” would mean more if Garner had taken room to say that Alan Arkin was a much better movie actor but didn’t look it.
It’s dissatisfying to find Garner so predictable about actors, when he’s otherwise so open and honest. But no one can complain about his honesty when it comes to the executives who were still, in those days, running the industry like a canyonful of horse thieves. At a time when Jack Benny was earning $25,000 a week on television, Garner was starring in Maverick for a 50th of that amount, and practically paying for his own pants. It might have been treatment like that, when McQueen was doing Wanted: Dead or Alive, that made McQueen into the future burglar of any movie’s budget, but you can’t be made into a thief except to feed your family. Garner was never a thief. He played it straight over money, and expected everyone else to as well.
That was a revolutionary attitude in Hollywood, where everybody expected the written deal to be a mere preliminary to the subsequent larceny. The problem wasn’t so much the system as it was the custom. When the studio system finally came apart and the big moguls were no longer on the telephone together except via Tokyo, the custom continued of robbing the artists. It continues to this day—I have a director friend who has given his career to making off-trail movies but he has found to his cost, and repeatedly, that his backers will back out when the thing is nine-tenths complete and leave him to finance the remaining tenth, because they know he will mortgage his house (again) rather than abandon the project. Garner, whose natural integrity makes you wonder why he is not a Quaker or an Amish person or something—how do you escape with so much virtue from a house ruled by a sadist?—simply hates such an attitude. When he finally got around to studying the accounts for the worldwide television reruns and saw how Lew Wasserman and Universal were robbing him, he sued them. Nobody ever does that.
Garner did it, and got some millions back when he finally agreed with the thieves to settle out of court, he having been vindicated and they, no doubt, still with a mountain range of stolen money yet to spend. The impressive thing here is that Garner was in no way a born litigant. He doesn’t like having his time wasted, any more than anyone else. He just wanted to correct an anomaly, to punish an offense: to get justice, if you wish. You could hand this book as a primer on ethics to any young man just reaching the age of choosing his way in life. Perhaps the most useful thing it shows is that you need not panic if the choice is not clear: things sometimes just happen. Given his proclivities, Garner could have driven racing cars. But by accident, he wandered into a situation where they were looking for an actor roughly his shape and size.
Later on, he became a renowned amateur race-car driver anyway, like Paul Newman. And although Newman drove race cars onscreen to formidable effect, he never got the chance to be a Formula One star onscreen, as Garner did in Grand Prix, the split-screen guy-thing blockbuster by John Frankenheimer. Garner likes that movie a bit too much—the story line is even worse than he says—but maybe he still smells high-octane gasoline. A measure of his generosity and understanding is that concerning Grand Prix, he refrains from making the most of his opportunity to call McQueen a dolt, which the bullet-headed one clearly was. Grand Prix was McQueen’s starring vehicle if he wanted it. He walked away from it. Then, when Garner took it, McQueen had the hide to behave as if Garner had stolen it.
Perhaps the equivalent book about McQueen should be handed to your young man as a guide to what not to do. I have an idea for packaging the two books together. But I wouldn’t want to do anything that Mr. Garner might not like, and I imagine the same sentiment is general throughout show business. In every field of creative activity, there are people famous for their goodness: they are rarely at the top of the tree, which is a harsh environment. But the occasional one is. In time, James Garner’s lasting importance might be that he showed how a television career and a movie career could be fruitfully combined. But it must be said that the TV actors have a very good reason for leaving a hit show behind when the moment comes, and Garner and his ghost have done a very good job of showing what that reason is.
The work is just too hard. A good show takes more than a week to make, so making one a week leaves no time at all. The mental strain is vivid, and even the mere physical strain can leave a strong man needing knee replacements. In the later episodes of The Rockford Files, that deep pain in Jim’s eyes was probably the spin-off from about six different areas of arthritis at once. So successful in television that he could rarely stop work to make the movies that would have made him a great film star, he wore the silver shackles of the golden slave ship. James Bumgarner, in my country, Australia—the magic land to which you were always on your way—we have a name for you. We call you a hero.
Clive James is an Australian poet and critic who has lived in London since the early 1960s.

Go here to read more  more and leave a comment thanking Mr. James for such a wonderful review of the book and a true-to-live description of the guy we all know is One For The Ages
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Re-blogged from MAVERICK'S DAUGHTER: mavrock1:

Dad and Nicky  (Nic-o-teen)

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Jim And Korean Orphan

Re-blogged from mavrock1

Jim And Orphan in Korea
photo courtesy of Gigi Garner
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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Rap Sheet - Grilling Garner

The Rap Sheet: Grilling Garner

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grilling Garner

Chalk this up as the highlight of my year: my recent opportunity--which, of course, I took--to interview James Garner.
Jim and his step-mother, Grace Bumgarner

JKP: Are you still taking on-screen acting jobs?

JG: I’m officially retired, and you can quote me on that. (Unless something really juicy comes along.)

JKP: Where were you last month when you heard that your brother Jack had passed away? It was always fun to spot him on the screen with you. [He played Captain McEnroe in Rockford and Jack the Bartender in Bret Maverick, among other roles.] I hope he had a fine send-off.

JG: I was home in Los Angeles. Jack and I were pals as well as brothers. We always had fun working together--one of the things Jack was proudest of was that he’d earned a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] pension. And we played a lot of golf together over the years--Jack was also a golf professional and a very good player.

There was a wonderful memorial service where people got up and told stories about him, most of them funny, because Jack had a great sense of humor. I miss him.

JKP: Finally, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned in 83 years?

JG: I’m still learning!

Posted by J. Kingston Pierce at 7:01 AM
 Read the entire interview on
The Rap Sheet: Grilling Garner

Read the Kirkus Review of The Garner Files - James Garner: Leading Man To Legend
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner – Book Review

The Garner Files: A Memoir - Simon & Schuster
The Garner Files: A Memoir - Simon & Schuster
The veteran actor of film and TV details all aspects of his life in this mesmerizing autobiography.

The Garner Files: A Memoir is the telling story of the life of actor James Garner who starred in Maverick, The Rockford Files, The Great Escape, Grand Prix, The Americanization of Emily and other notable shows. Having had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Garner, I was anxious to read this book and learn more about this man who has had an incredible career and life. The book did not disappoint me. When I interviewed James Garner he did not hold back about his experiences and he does not hold back in the book either.

James Garner discusses his childhood in Oklahoma – which was riddled with abuse, his co-stars, his movies, his television career, his love of cars and car racing, his adoration for the game of golf, his politics and his temperament. Although he has a co-writer (Jon Winokur), Garner’s voice comes through loud and clear. While reading the book I felt as though Mr. Garner was right there talking to me.

James Garner’s Acting Career

As stated, the man does not hold back. “Charlie Bronson was a pain in the ass, too.” (p. 81) Garner says about his co-star in The Great Escape, after first detailing a problem with Steve McQueen.

As a young actor, James Garner got a big break when he was cast in the television series Maverick. “I learned my craft doing Maverick” he writes (p. 170). While it took eight days to make one episode of the hit series, the show aired every seven days so to keep up with the schedule they had to create a brother for his character who would fill in and take some of the pressure off of Garner and his team.
Another fun anecdote about his Maverick days involves Natalie Wood who suggested that Garner take acting lessons. “Why would I want to do that?” (p. 170) He had a hit TV series and a budding career. He decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken.

In the book Garner talks about his fellow actors and lays it on the line, giving his opinion about the talent of specific actors. Some were great, but he does let the readers know which ones he thinks are not good at their craft. He also discusses the crafts of comedy, drama, and humor. And the actor gives a good description of how fame and being on television often interfered with his personal life, namely having a quiet meal out in public with his family, which became non-existent after the success of Maverick.
James Garner was part of the old studio system, and does not hold back when discussing the studio bosses. And he dishes on the integrity of others high on the studio echelon ladder after the system folded, namely Lew Wasserman, one of Hollywood’s moguls.

Readers will get an inside look at the making of his television shows and movies. Grand Prix, a film about Formula One racing is discussed in detail, and Mr. Garner explains about how the filmmakers created the sounds that accompanied the video of the racing cars. It’s an interesting lesson on filmmaking.

Cars, Car Racing, and Golf

Grand Prix was a highlight of Mr. Garner’s acting career and boosted his love of car racing. He was always interested in cars, as readers will discover, and became an avid fan and participant in the sport of racing.

Golf is another sport in which Mr. Garner excelled and which he loved. He has some pretty good memories of his years as a golfer, which now are over due to physical problems.


 James Garner has always been outspoken about his feelings and in the book he continues his straightforwardness. He definitely has strong feelings about many issues and at one time was approached about running for Governor of California.

The Book

The book ends with input from people who have known the actor, including his wife, daughters, friends, and fellow actors. After reading this section readers will realize the high regard in which Mr. Garner is held.

As Garner writes, “You have to take the risk. You may fail, but at least you’ve given it your best shot.” (p. 39) and that is exactly what he did. He gave it – his career and his life – his best shot.
His childhood, war stories, acting career, friendships, temper, and good humor are all laid out in this wonderful autobiography. Any fan of this actor will enjoy every chapter.

  • The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN: 9781451642605
  • Hardback: November 1, 2011
  • Pages: 288
Read more at Suite101: The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner – Book Review | Suite101.com http://francinebrokaw.suite101.com/the-garner-files-a-memoir-by-james-garner--book-review-a394479#ixzz1c1kDhCEx


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jack Garner Dies At Age 84

I have been putting off posting this because it makes me so sad. Of course Jim and Jack knew the years were adding up, and I'm sure they were prepared - as much as one can be for these things.

Under the circumstances, with Jack having a broken hip and his heart not being strong enough for surgery, it was for the best. Being in long term care in great pain that can't be fixed isn't a very good alternative even for a much younger person. Still, I know Jim and both families miss him very much.

RIP, Jack Garner

Jack Garner dies at age 84 » Headlines » The Norman Transcript
September 15, 2011
Jack Garner dies at age 84

By Andy Rieger The Norman Transcript

Jack Garner — a Norman native who worked as an actor, singer, professional baseball player and golf pro — died Tuesday in California after a brief illness. He was 84.

He was the older brother of Hollywod legend James Garner. The oldest brother, the late Charles Bumgarner, was a longtime Norman school administrator who died in 1984 at age 60.

Jack Garner’s daughter, Liz Bumgarner, said her father had fallen and broken a hip last week. His heart was not strong enough for surgery and they were planning for longterm care when his condition worsened and he died, she said.

Jack Garner was a standout athlete at Norman High School and played on the 1945 state championship basketball team for Norman High. He later played professional baseball and worked as a golf professional at local courses.

Later in life, he was frequently cast in roles in his brother’s 1970s NBC TV series “The Rockford Files” and numerous other shows. Liz Bumgarner, said her father moved to California in the early 1960s. He most recently lived in Palm Desert, Calif.

Both Jack Garner and James Garner were raised in Norman and later changed their name from Bumgarner to Garner when they moved to California. Charles Bumgarner remained in Norman and retained the Bumgarner name.

“He had so many friends and still had some family in Norman,” Liz Bumgarner said of her father. “We had many great memories there.”

A memorial service is planned in California. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wiefels Palm Springs Mortuary.

The three Bumgarner sons were born in Norman to Mildred Scott Meek and Weldon Warren “Bill” Bumgarner. The family ran a general store at Denver Corner on the east side of Norman. Mrs. Bumgarner died when the boys were very young, and they lived with friends and relatives as their father struggled to find work during the Depression.

In his soon-to-be-published memoir, James Garner called his older brother “a hell of an athlete, and I always took a backseat to him.”

“At Norman High, he was a point guard on a championship basketball team and quarterbacked an all-state football team,” James Garner wrote. “But his best sport was baseball: Jack was a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for 11 years. He was a better athlete than I was and a lot more outgoing. I was always in his footsteps.”

Roy Hamilton, a longtime Norman friend of the family, said Jack was a tremendous athlete in high school.

“He was probably the greatest. No, he was the greatest all-around athlete that ever came out of Norman High,” said Hamilton, 81.

Hamilton said Jack Garner was chosen as All State in football, was on the championship basketball team, was pitcher on the baseball team and ran track. Before his senior year ended, he signed a professional baseball contract, eliminating him from playing in a state championship baseball game.

Another longtime Norman friend, Bill Saxon, said Jack was always the one to organize baseball games in the city park and included the neighborhood kids.

“If it had something to do with a ball, it was of interest to Jack,” Saxon said.

“He was in high school at a time when Norman really had some tremendous athletes. In those days, Norman went as far as Amarillo to play ball.”

After his lengthy stint in the minor baseball leagues, he married a woman he met in Florida and took a landscaping job at a golf course.

“He was just such a natural athlete, he became the groundskeeper, then learned how to play and then began teaching and eventually became a pro.”

Saxon remembered Jack as a talented singer who really enjoyed the small acting and singing jobs he took along the way.

“He had a great personality and he called all the women ‘darling.’ All the women loved him,” he said. “He had a great personality and never got away from his basic roots in Oklahoma.”
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lessons From James Garner

Lessons from James Garner | Notes From Andy
Notes From Andy
Andy Lee's weblog
Posted on August 21, 2011

Lessons from James Garner

Never mind that I'm not in show business; I wish I could have worked for James Garner. In his book Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki quotes this story told by Stephen J. Cannell, the creator of "The Rockford Files".

There were occasions when I sent a script down to him that I didn't think was the best script that we'd ever shot, and I'd never hear from him. A lot of other actors I worked with over the years would call me up and say, "Hey, I don't think this is a very good script, we need to do this, this, and this…" Never a word from Jim. Nothing. He'd just do it. So I started to think that he didn't see that it wasn't a good script.

Once we were at a wrap party at the end of a season, and one of those weak-sister scripts came up. Jim wagged a finger at me and said, "Not one of your better efforts, Steve."

So I said, "Okay, let me ask you a question: Why don't I ever hear from you when you don't like the script?"

He said, "I'll tell you exactly why: I trust you and I trust Juanita [Bartlett] and I trust David [Chase], and I know if you send me a script that isn't quite up to what we're used to doing, it's because it's the best you can do that week given the pressures that are on you. And if I spin you guys all around and force you to rewrite, I'm going to turn one bad script into four bad scripts.

"So that's the time that the acting department has to step up and really kick some ass. We have to step up and really make the stuff work. I have to look for more motivation to make comedy where I don't see it on the page and try to make it go past the audience without them seeing that it wasn't that good a story."

Whoa. I mean, come on. What a pro! What a pro! And he's right: Very often I've found that when actors have spun me around like that–I know the script's not as good as it should be, but let's get past this one and have a good one next week. You can't do twenty-two excellent shows–it's just not possible. Anybody who does series television will tell you that. There's always a few that aren't as good.

He told me, at the same time, "You never sent me two bad ones in a row."

For a guy like that, I would make extra sure not to send two bad ones in a row. There are lessons in this story about trust, professionalism, and appreciation for the hard jobs other people do to help the star succeed.

I watched the whole Rockford Files series last year and was surprised at how good it was. Maybe I can appreciate it more now than when I first watched it as a kid. A friend told me Garner's old show "Maverick" is also excellent. I've been meaning to check that out too.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Newly Released DVD Collection and Memoir James Garner Him Some Long-Overdue Recognition

My favorite actor of all time - from the first episode of Maverick to today, James Garner is the only celeb I would walk across the street to see.

The man is not only one of our finest actors - some have recognized that all along - but he is a man of integrity and honor.

These are traits you don't often find in one individual, but Jim Garner has it all. And so danged handsome!
Amplify’d from www.nj.com

James Garner's career spans decades, but a newly released DVD collection and memoir give him some long-overdue recognition

Pblished: Sunday, May 22, 2011, 8:03 AM

The Star-Ledger
Getty Images file photoActor James Garner, seen here after being honored with the 41st Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2005, is back in the spotlight with the release of a DVD collection featuring several of his '60s films and TV series, as well as the publication of his memoir later this year.
It is the old definition of a male movie star — someone men want to have a drink with, and women want to go to bed with.

Not many actors can project that kind of appeal.

Do guys really want to kick back with Tom Cruise? Do ladies really dream about Adam Sandler? Both actors make millions of dollars because they sell millions of tickets, but these days real cross-gender appeal is difficult.

James Garner made it look easy.

A big, square-shouldered country boy, the actor always looked at ease, whether in the razor-sharp uniform of a military man or the rumpled sports jacket of a weary private eye. And for half a century he appealed to both sexes, creating characters who walked the line between childish mischief and adult duty.

This may be the year he gets his long-overdue reappraisal.

The Warner Archive Collection has just debuted several of his ’60s titles on DVD — the offbeat amnesia drama “Mr. Buddwing,” the private-eye story “Marlowe,” and the huckster comedy “The Wheeler Dealers.” “Grand Prix” is out on Blu-ray, too, and Garner’s working on his memoirs, set for publication this winter.

“I’ve avoided writing a book until now because I feel like I’m really pretty average, and I didn’t think anyone would care about my life,” Simon & Schuster quoted him as saying. “I’m still a little uncomfortable, but I finally agreed, because people I trust persuaded me people might be interested and because I realized it would allow me to acknowledge those who’ve helped me along the way ... and even settle a score or two.”

And it’s that very American guy — the modest fellow who isn’t going to brag, but isn’t going to let you push him around, either — that Garner has been, onscreen and off, for his entire life.

He was born James Bumgarner in 1928 in Norman, Okla., with the Depression and the Dust Bowl straight ahead. His half-Cherokee mother died when he was 5, and his new stepmother beat him savagely — and would for nearly a decade, until Garner finally fought back. (He had his hands around her neck when his father walked in the door; the marriage ended that day.)

From barracks to broadway

At 16, Garner — who spent high school majoring in sports, and his spare time helping his father lay carpets — dropped out and enlisted in the Merchant Marine. Not a great choice for a boy who turned out to be chronically seasick; he left after a year, and went back to school. Still, stints in the National Guard and the Army followed, along with two Purple Hearts during his service in Korea.

“Marriage is like the Army,” he said later. “Everyone complains, but you’d be surprised by the large number of people who re-enlist.”

Actually, on the marital front, Garner signed up only once. In 1956, he met Lois Clarke at an Adlai Stevenson event; he took her out every night for two weeks, and on the 15th day, they tracked down a justice of the peace. They have been married, with two daughters and without a single scandal, ever since.

“I was just absolutely nuts about her,” he said about their quickie courtship. “I spent $77 on our honeymoon, and it about broke me.”

By this time, Garner was already acting. In high school, he’d done a few bathing suit ads; not long out of the service, he landed a job as an extra in Broadway’s “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.” Playing a judge, he didn’t have to do anything except sit onstage and watch Henry Fonda every night; it was, Garner said, like getting paid to go to drama school.

He must have learned something. He began landing TV commercials, and a few real roles; in 1957, he got a call for a humorous new TV western called “Maverick.” Garner’s job was to play a no-better-than-he-had-to-be gambler, a likeable rogue whose charm — and creative approach to the law — always saw him through.

That slippery character would be one that Garner returned to, but with a twinkle that set him apart from other, more anguished anti-heroes.


James Garner in "The Rockford Files."

Garner’s guys were slick (which, not surprisingly, had been his high-school nickname) but they weren’t wounded, or wounding. Yes, they always snagged the best table, the prettiest girl — but they were so upfront about their schemes, you somehow didn’t mind.

In real life, the far-from-shifty Garner was bracingly blunt, and with a stubborn sense of justice. (He once got into a fight with Charles Bronson over a card game, because he thought Bronson was taking advantage of an extra.) And when the studio behind his new TV hit started pushing him around, Garner sued them for breach of contract — and won.

And then he quit the show.

People told him it would end his career, but old Slick kept working, finding a home in sturdy war movies like “Darby’s Rangers” and “Up Periscope.” He co-starred with Doris Day in two of her better comedies, “Move Over, Darling” and “The Thrill of it All” and although “The Wheeler Dealers” needed to be funnier, its character of a crafty businessman showed how endlessly adaptable that “Maverick” type could be.

It drove two of his best movies in the ’60s — both excellent in their way, both complements of the other.

America’s caliber of hero

In “The Great Escape,” we see Garner the operator at his best — caught in a German P.O.W. camp, he’s an American who can still somehow get anything. He’s integral to the escape effort, and yet suspect to the English prisoners — with his cynical smile and elastic morals, he really doesn’t seem to be “our sort.” And yet, of course, he’s as much a hero as anyone — and ultimately willing to risk everything for a friend.

In “The Americanization of Emily,” he’s another guy with an angle, an officer whose job is to keep the top brass happy in the weeks leading up to D-Day — something Garner does by pimping out every pretty Englishwoman he meets. He’s a coward, and proud of it — in the film’s finest, fiercest speech he tells a shocked Julie Andrews that it’s heroes who cause wars. But when push comes to shove, he too will push back — and try, at least in the film’s final moments, to do the right thing.

This was a great character for Garner and the times — the man who didn’t buy into conventional morality even as he stood up for a personal principle. But there were only so many parts like that, and the best ones went to his pals Paul Newman or Steve McQueen; although Garner grabbed a few good assignments (like “Grand Prix,” a racing picture either friend would have jumped at), too often the parts, like the cheaply made “Marlowe,” seemed second-tier.

So, by the late ’60s, did Garner’s career.

First, he returned to the genre that had made him famous, offbeat Westerns like “Support Your Local Sheriff” and the provocative “Skin Game” (which featured Garner and Lou Gossett as two tricksters working a slavery con); then, eventually, he went back to TV, reteaming with Roy Huggins, the creator of “Maverick.”

Their new show was called “The Rockford Files,” and while any number of writers passed through it (Stephen J. Cannell was a co-creator, and David Chase wrote 16 shows), Garner had already created this character; a man willing to bend (if not absolutely break) the rules, fond of women (but devoted to his souped-up Firebird), and a firm believer in self-preservation — until he finally had to take a stand.

Television has a ubiquity, and an intimacy, that the movies don’t, and although Garner did richer work onscreen, it will be the six entertaining seasons of “Rockford” that he’ll be most remembered for. But, eventually, six was enough — he did all his own stunts, and an old knee injury from his National Guard days began to trouble him.

When he went into the hospital with a bleeding ulcer in 1979, his doctors told him it was time to take a break.


Melissa Moseley/New LineJames Garner (left) stars as Duke and Gena Rowland (right) stars as Allie in "The Notebook."

Hanging tough

Still, Garner — typically — did not go quietly. When the studio held back his share of the profits, claiming there were none — despite half-a-dozen top seasons and a presumably lucrative syndication deal — Garner called his lawyers again. It took a decade, but he got his money. (The studio execs should be glad he handled it through the courts, too — when Garner once ran into a producer who’d been reportedly filching “Rockford” scripts and music, he knocked the guy down with a left hook.)

Yet for a man who burned a lot of bridges, Garner kept working, and doing good work. He did fine TV movies like “Barbarians at the Gate” and “My Name Is Bill W.” He reunited with Julie Andrews for the very funny “Victor/Victoria,” and got an Oscar nomination for the offbeat love story “Murphy’s Romance.” The dopey “Space Cowboys” provided some nostalgic thrills with Garner as a called-back-into-service astronaut; 2004’s sweetly sentimental “The Notebook” showed the weathered old guy still had it.

Not that vanity ever was one of his Garner’s vices; when his hairline receded, he didn’t chase it, and when his eyesight began to go, he simply got glasses.

He is a well-worn 83 now, and has had plenty of health problems over the years, including multiple knee operations, a quintuple bypass in 1988, and a stroke in 2008. His last credits have been voice-overs for cartoons.

But his old movies are still in great shape, and so is the character he created — the man’s man who was also a ladies’ man, the rascal who wasn’t quite as dishonest as he pretended to be, the laid-back fellow who let it all roll off his back, until he didn’t. It was a great, modern and very American hero, and it worked because it wasn’t a persona.

It was a person named James Garner, and we’ve been lucky to have him.
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