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.
(born James Scott Bumgarner)
April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014