Adios, Maverick

James Garner as Bret Maverick

James Garner as Bret Maverick

I lost a big piece of my childhood Sunday. James Garner, star of “Maverick,” “The Rockford Files,” and more than 50 movies, died. He was 86.

Garner, you see, was born in Norman, Okla., just down the road from where I lived in Oklahoma City. He was practically a neighbor, a hometown boy. And I was SO into cowboys and horses and the Old West when I was a kid. When “Maverick” hit the airwaves, I was smitten. He was so handsome, so adorable, so Oklahoma. 

The crush continued when Jim Rockford, an urban Bret Maverick, appeared, and the rollicking Rockford theme became for me the Jim Garner theme.

One of his earliest films was The Great Escape (1963), one of my all-time favorite movies. Garner and Steve McQueen in the same movie. Heaven! I can still whistle the theme song.

I feel like I’ve lost a member of my family.

R.I.P.

James Garner

(born James Scott Bumgarner)

April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014



Categories: Culture, entertainment, personalities, video content

20 replies

  1. I was so very sad to hear the news my friend. Another great one gone. I was so young when Maverick was on TV, but I absolutely remember how much I loved watching it with my mom. I suppose that connection held true for me, because I loved everything Garner did afterwards. In fact, despite it being hilarious, I kinda resented Mel Gibson playing Maverick all those years later. That is until the end, when they revealed that the character Garner played in that movie was Maverick’s dad!

    • I realized in looking over his filmography that I saw very few of his movies. I’ve never been much of a moviegoer, renter, or watcher. I’d have had a tough time accepting Gibson as Maverick. Nice to know it didn’t really come to that.

  2. Agreed, Garner was one of the outstanding actors of our time. He had that rare quality of likability that let him play himself and we never tired of him because of it. Others I can think of who had “it” make for a fairly short list: Steve McQueen (as you said), Gregory Peck, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant, Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier. Strangely enough, I have trouble of thinking of actresses in that context. Why is that? 😕

    • What a wonderful list of actors. I love every one of them. And I was thinking just what you said about Garner. All he had to do was get in front of the camera and be Jim Garner. I just happened to be especially fond of him. He seemed so normal, so approachable.

      Like you, I don’t think of many actresses that way. Sally Field, maybe? Maybe it’s just a sexist thing, that men seem to have more presence on screen, more gravitas, and are more memorable as a result.

  3. He was always a favourite of mine; his voice seemed to have a touch of melancholy in it like a little boy who’d been caught doing something naughty. Didn’t matter what part he portrayed he always seemed to me to be such a nice genuine person and evidently he was.

    I don’t have the same problem as Jim when it comes to actresses, my favourite of all time is of course; Katherine Hepburn a lady of genuine talent and class, magnificent, and then how about Lauren Bacall, how sad that we don’t have people like these gracing the silver screen anymore

  4. Methinks they’d have made the likes of M. Streep look like bit/B movie actresses.; but then that’s just me being a grumpy old man as usual 😕 🙂

  5. Glad to see your post on James Garner. Although I did no post he was constantly on my mind for a couple of days. He was a family tradition at our house when I was young. When “Maverick” came on, my step-dad demanded all other household activities cease. Mother on the other hand was a “Rockford Files” groupie.

    I thought a lot about his movies the past few days and there are three in particular that are definitely top favorites…

    Support Your Local Sheriff
    Murphy’s Romance
    The Notebook

    At our age celebrities tend to pass on from time to time but some of them, the really special ones with whom we made a special bond, take a piece of us with them.

  6. Glad you saw this too. Good tribute. We’ll miss him

  7. Believe I saw every one of his television series appearances. And it had nothing to do with spending nearly two years at Fort Sill, Oklahoma! Strangely, I don’t recall seeing any Garner films. There’s time to correct at least part of that omission, starting with a few titles endorsed in the comments here.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke

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