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Famous Person: James Garner

Famous For: Actor, Producer, Singer, Director

Movie - Television Titles:

  • DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (Video short) Shazam (voice)
  • 2010 DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection (Video) Shazam (voice)
  • 2007 First Night (Short) Dr. Curtis
  • 2007 Battle for Terra Doron (voice)
  • 2006 The Ultimate Gift Howard 'Red' Stevens
  • 2003-2005 8 Simple Rules (TV Series) Jim Egan / C.J. Barnes - Ditch Day (2005) ... Jim Egan - Sleepover (2005) ... Jim Egan - The Teachers Lounge (2005) ... Jim Egan - The After Party (2005) ... Jim Egan - C.J.'s Real Dad (2005) ... Jim Egan Show all 45 episodes
  • 2004 Al Roach: Private Insectigator (Short) Al Roach
  • 2004 The Notebook Duke
  • 2003 The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration (Video) Pat (voice)
  • 2002 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Shepard James 'Shep' Walker
  • 2002 First Monday (TV Series) Chief Justice Thomas Brankin - Family Secrets (2002) ... Chief Justice Thomas Brankin - Showdown (2002) ... Chief Justice Thomas Brankin - Strip Search (2002) ... Chief Justice Thomas Brankin - Unprotected Speech (2002) ... Chief Justice Thomas Brankin - Secrets and Lies (2002) ... Chief Justice Thomas Brankin Show all 13 episodes
  • 2002 Roughing It (TV Movie) Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
  • 2000-2001 God, the Devil and Bob (TV Series) God - Bob Gets Involved (2001) ... God (voice) - God's Girlfriend (2001) ... God (voice) - Bob's Father (2001) ... God (voice) - There's Too Much Sex on TV (2001) ... God (voice) - Neighbor's Keeper (2001) ... God (voice) Show all 13 episodes
  • 2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke (voice)
  • 2000 The Last Debate (TV Movie) Mike Howley
  • 2000 Space Cowboys Tank Sullivan
  • 2000 Chicago Hope (TV Series) Hubert 'Hue' Miller - Have I Got a Deal for You (2000) ... Hubert 'Hue' Miller - Everybody's Special at Chicago Hope (2000) ... Hubert 'Hue' Miller - Thoughts of You (2000) ... Hubert 'Hue' Miller - Miller Time (2000) ... Hubert 'Hue' Miller
  • 1999 One Special Night (TV Movie) Robert Woodward
  • 1999 Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story (TV Movie) (uncredited)
  • 1999 Streets of Laredo (TV Mini-Series) Captain Woodrow Call - Episode #1.3 (1999) ... Captain Woodrow Call - Episode #1.2 (1999) ... Captain Woodrow Call - Episode #1.1 (1999) ... Captain Woodrow Call
  • 1999 The Rockford Files: If It Bleeds... It Leads (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1998 Legalese (TV Movie) Norman Keane
  • 1998 Twilight Raymond Hope
  • 1997 The Rockford Files: Shoot-Out at the Golden Pagoda (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1997 Dead Silence (TV Movie) John Potter
  • 1996 My Fellow Americans President Matt Douglas
  • 1996 The Rockford Files: Punishment and Crime (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1996 The Rockford Files: Friends and Foul Play (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1996 The Rockford Files: Godfather Knows Best (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1996 The Rockford Files: If the Frame Fits... (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1995 The Rockford Files: A Blessing in Disguise (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1994 The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A. (TV Movie) Jim Rockford
  • 1994 Maverick Marshal Zane Cooper
  • 1994 Breathing Lessons (TV Movie) Ira Moran
  • 1993 Barbarians at the Gate (TV Movie) F. Ross Johnson
  • 1993 Fire in the Sky Frank Watters
  • 1992 The Distinguished Gentleman Jeff Johnson
  • 1991-1992 Man of the People (TV Series) Councilman Jim Doyle - The Freeway Issue (1992) ... Councilman Jim Doyle - Mr. Doyle Goes to Vegas: Part 2 (1991) ... Councilman Jim Doyle - Mr. Doyle Goes to Vegas: Part 1 (1991) ... Councilman Jim Doyle - Kid of the People (1991) ... Councilman Jim Doyle - Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) ... Councilman Jim Doyle Show all 10 episodes
  • 1990 Decoration Day (TV Movie) Albert Sidney Finch
  • 1989 My Name Is Bill W. (TV Movie) Dr. Robert 'Dr. Bob' Holbrook Smith
  • 1988 Sunset Wyatt Earp
  • 1986 Promise (TV Movie) Bob Beuhler
  • 1985 Murphy's Romance Murphy Jones
  • 1985 Space (TV Mini-Series) Sen. Norman Grant
  • 1984 The Glitter Dome (TV Movie) Sgt. Aloysius Mackey
  • 1984 Heartsounds (TV Movie) Harold Lear
  • 1984 Tank Zack
  • 1981-1982 Bret Maverick (TV Series) Bret Maverick - The Hidalgo Thing (1982) ... Bret Maverick - The Rattlesnake Brigade (1982) ... Bret Maverick - Faith, Hope and Clarity: Part 2 (1982) ... Bret Maverick - Faith, Hope and Clarity: Part 1 (1982) ... Bret Maverick - The Eight Swords of Dyrus and Other Illusions of Grandeur (1982) ... Bret Maverick Show all 18 episodes
  • 1982 Victor Victoria King Marchand
  • 1982 The Long Summer of George Adams (TV Movie) George Adams
  • 1981 The Fan Jake Berman
  • 1980 HealtH Harry Wolff
  • 1974-1980 The Rockford Files (TV Series) Jim Rockford - Deadlock in Parma (1980) ... Jim Rockford - Just a Coupla Guys (1979) ... Jim Rockford - The Big Cheese (1979) ... Jim Rockford - No-Fault Affair (1979) ... Jim Rockford - The Hawaiian Headache (1979) ... Jim Rockford Show all 122 episodes
  • 1979 Young Maverick (TV Series) Bret Maverick - Clancy (1979) ... Bret Maverick
  • 1978 The New Maverick (TV Movie) Bret Maverick
  • 1974 The Castaway Cowboy Lincoln Costain
  • 1973 One Little Indian Keyes
  • 1972 They Only Kill Their Masters Abel Marsh
  • 1971-1972 Nichols (TV Series) Nichols - Bertha (1972) ... Nichols - All in the Family (1972) ... Nichols - Wonder Fizz Flies Again (1972) ... Nichols - Man's Best Enemy (1972) ... Nichols - Fight of the Century (1972) ... Nichols Show all 24 episodes
  • 1971 Skin Game Quincy
  • 1971 Support Your Local Gunfighter Latigo
  • 1970 A Man Called Sledge Luther Sledge
  • 1969 Marlowe Philip Marlowe
  • 1969 Support Your Local Sheriff! Jason McCullough
  • 1968 How Sweet It Is! Grif Henderson
  • 1968 The Pink Jungle Ben Morris
  • 1967 Hour of the Gun Wyatt Earp
  • 1966 Grand Prix Pete Aron
  • 1966 Mister Buddwing Mister Buddwing
  • 1966 Duel at Diablo Jess Remsberg
  • 1966 A Man Could Get Killed William Beddoes
  • 1965 The Art of Love Casey Barnett
  • 1965 36 Hours Maj. Jefferson Pike
  • 1964 The Americanization of Emily Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison
  • 1963 Move Over, Darling Nicholas Arden
  • 1963 The Wheeler Dealers Henry Tyroon
  • 1963 The Thrill of It All Dr. Gerald Boyer
  • 1963 The Great Escape Hendley 'The Scrounger'
  • 1962 Boys' Night Out Fred Williams
  • 1957-1962 Maverick (TV Series) Bret Maverick / Beau 'Pappy' Maverick - The Troubled Heir (1962) ... Bret Maverick (credit only) - The Maverick Line (1960) ... Bret Maverick - Greenbacks, Unlimited (1960) ... Bret Maverick - The Misfortune Teller (1960) ... Bret Maverick - The Resurrection of Joe November (1960) ... Bret Maverick Show all 60 episodes
  • 1961 The Children's Hour Dr. Joe Cardin
  • 1961 Angel (TV Series) Jim - The French Lesson (1961) ... Jim
  • 1960 Cash McCall Cash McCall
  • 1959 Alias Jesse James Bret Maverick (scenes deleted)
  • 1959 Up Periscope Lt. J.G. Kenneth M. Braden
  • 1958 Darby's Rangers Col. William Orlando Darby
  • 1957 Sugarfoot (TV Series) Bret Maverick - Misfire (1957) ... Bret Maverick (uncredited)
  • 1957 Sayonara Captain Bailey
  • 1957 Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend Sgt. John Maitland
  • 1955-1957 Cheyenne (TV Series) Willis Peake / Bret / Lt. Lee Rogers / ... - War Party (1957) ... Willis Peake - The Last Train West (1956) ... Bret - Decision (1956) ... Lt. Lee Rogers - Mountain Fortress (1955) ... Lt. Brad Forsythe
  • 1956-1957 Conflict (TV Series) Red / Jim Curtis - Girl on the Subway (1957) - Man from 1997 (1956) ... Red - The People Against McQuade (1956) ... Jim Curtis
  • 1956 Zane Grey Theater (TV Series) Lt. Jim Collins - Star Over Texas (1956) ... Lt. Jim Collins
  • 1956 The Girl He Left Behind Preston
  • 1956 Toward the Unknown Lt. Col. Joe Craven
  • 1956 Warner Brothers Presents (TV Series) - Explosion (1956)

Authors Description:

Born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma, James Garner's early childhood in the Great Depression-era Dust Bowl was marked by hardships. He is the youngest of three sons. When he was only four years old, he lost his mother, Mildred Bumgarner, who was half-Cherokee. His father, Weldon Warren "Bill" Bumgarner, eventually abandoned James and his brothers Charles and Jack, leaving them in the care of relatives. The Bumgarner boys reunited with their father after Bill remarried a few years later.  But their home life was far from happy, as their new stepmother was physically and verbally abusive to her stepsons. She and Weldon Bumgarner eventually divorced.

Remaining in Oklahoma when his father moved to Los Angeles, James Garner soon dropped out of school. At age 16, he lied about his age in order to join the Merchant Marine during the last year of World War II. After that, he decided to try living in California with his father, during which time he briefly attended Hollywood High School. But Garner didn't finish school there, either, abandoning his classes to take a job as a model for Janzen bathing suits. "I made 25 bucks an hour!" he remembered. "That's why I quit school. I was making more money than the teachers."

It didn't last long, though. In 1950, Garner became the first Oklahoman drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. Two battlefield injuries and Purple Hearts later, Garner returned to the United States. Although he never finished high school, he did earn his GED.

Finally, Garner stumbled into acting. Approached by a talent agent friend and lured by the prospect of a new job, Garner took a small role as a judge in a Broadway production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. Although Garner spent most of his time in the background, his participation gave him ample time to learn from the show's legendary lead actor: Henry Fonda. Through watching Fonda, and because he occasionally had the opportunity to read lines during rehearsals, Garner began internalizing what it took to be an actor.

Thanks to that role, Warner Bros. offered him a film contract in 1956. Unlike many future stars, though, Garner always viewed acting as a way to make a living, instead of as a dream fulfilled. "I'm a Spencer Tracy-type actor," Garner said. "His idea was to be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth." Garner's lunch-bucket approach worked well enough; the actor landed several supporting roles in films, including Sayonara (1957) starring Marlon Brando. His big break was just around the bend. (Meanwhile, Warner Bros. started billing him as Garner instead of Bumgarner, without ever asking for his permission.)

Garner's acting career really picked up when he was awarded the lead role in a Western television series called Maverick, in which he played the title character, Bret Maverick, from 1957-60. The fact that he was already under contract for a regular (and relatively low) fee may have had something to do with the studio's decision to cast him; at least, Garner seemed to think so. Westerns were big on American television in this period, and Maverick was initially conceived to be typical of the genre. Over time, though, the show found its niche by painting Garner's character as somewhat lazy and unwilling to be bothered, yet nonetheless essentially good-hearted and effective at catching the bad guys. Fans embraced the show's gentle mockery of Western conventions and Garner's likeable, unconventional character.

Just as he was getting his first taste of what it was like to play a lead role, Garner was also learning about a darker side of the entertainment business. His tenure on Maverick ended with a successful lawsuit against Warner Bros. During a writers' strike in 1960, the studio suspended Garner without pay, claiming that they had no scripts to work from, so they couldn't pay him. A judge sided with Garner; it turned out that the company had plenty of writers writing plenty of scripts during the period, so they had breached Garner's contract by suspending him without pay.

Actually quite happy to be out of his low-paying contract with Warner Bros., Garner moved on, appearing in such feature films as The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964) and Grand Prix (1966). It was only when he returned to television, though, that his career reached another high point.

Garner attained small-screen fame once again as Jim Rockford, a private detective, in the series The Rockford Files (1974-80). Much like Maverick, the series presented a subtle parody of its own genre headed by a likeable anti-hero. Again, too, Garner's tenure on the series would end in a lawsuit. Strenuous production work had aggravated his old Korean War injuries and left him with several new ones, so Garner tried to leave the show. NBC wanted him to fulfill his contract, so he took parts on a couple of short-lived Maverick spin-offs, but those fizzled. Garner ended up suing NBC for cheating him out of his fair share of the profits from The Rockford Files. Garner won the suit, receiving an undisclosed sum from NBC. During the 1970s, Garner also became recognizable for the Polaroid ads he appeared in with Mariette Hartley.

In the 1980s, Garner returned to the big screen. He appeared alongside Julie Andrews in the Oscar-winning Victor Victoria (1982) and was nominated for an Oscar himself for Murphy's Romance (1985), in which he starred opposite Sally Field. Garner also acted in several television movies, racking up awards nominations and winning a best actor Golden Globe for Decoration Day (1990). In 1990, Garner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite this success, the decade also presented major challenges: Garner underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery around the same time.

James Garner continued his acting career well into the 2000s, signing for a major role on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules after the untimely death of its original male lead, John Ritter. Garner took a supporting role in the film Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002), and played a husband whose wife is sick with Alzheimer's in 2004's The Notebook. That same year, Garner was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Best Supporting Actor Award, and awarded the SAG Life Achievement Award. According to SAG President Melissa Gilbert, Garner "is a man who has served his peers, his community and his country with integrity and quiet generosity. He epitomizes class, style, wit, and depth. He serves as a role model for all of America's actors."

Garner's career has been one of the longest in Hollywood, and his marriage has lasted nearly as long. Garner married Lois Clarke on August 17, 1956. The pair met at a rally for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. The couple had only known each other a few weeks before tying the knot. Garner adopted Clarke's daughter from her previous marriage, a then-nine-year-old named Kimberly. Garner and Clarke also have a daughter of their own, Greta (known as Gigi), born in 1958.

Despite suffering a stroke in 2008, James Garner remained relatively healthy and remained one of the most liked and best-respected actors in the history of television. Perhaps his success has had something to do with his insistence on viewing acting as a job, rather than pursuing celebrity for its own sake. He nearly declined the SAG Life Achievement Award, making the excuse that he disliked public speaking: "It scares the devil out of me." When he finally accepted, he said of his speech, "Well, this will be shorter than others." True of his speech, perhapsóbut, fortunately for fans, certainly not true of his career. Garner died on July 19, 2014 at the age of 86.

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