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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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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