Television veteran and movie actor James Garner passed away last Saturday night, July 19, 2014. According to Reuters, the police found the 86-year-old in his Los Angeles home. The immediate cause of his death is unknown. However, it is possible that it was due to natural causes. Prior to this, he had received a quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and had suffered a stroke in 2008, from which he was able to recover from. He is survived by his wife, Lois Fleishman Clarke, and children, Greta and Kimberly Garner. Read further to learn more about this story.
Garner was born on April 7, 1928. His early childhood was troubled, as he had problems with his stepmother, whom James and his brothers disliked. He also enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marines during World War II and served in the army during the Korean War.
In 1954, his friend, Paul Gregory, persuaded him to take on a nonspeaking role in a Broadway play. This paved the way for him to move on to television commercials and, later on, to television shows, where he would go on to make his name.
He was best known for portraying Bret Maverick in the 1950s western “Maverick” and as Private Investigator Jim Rockford in the 1970s series “The Rockford Files.” His portrayal of Jim Rockford earned him an Emmy Award for Best Actor.
He later moved on to a prolific film career which spanned from the 1960s to 2004. His earlier movies include “The Children’s Hour” with Audrey Hepburn; “The Great Escape” with Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough; “The Americanization of Emily” and “Victor, Victoria” with Julie Andrews; “Space Cowboys” with Clint Eastwood; and “Murphy’s Romance” with Sally Field, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1985.
His more recent film projects include lending his voice for the 2001 Disney animated film “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and a role in the movie adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, “The Notebook,” in 2004. His role in “The Notebook,” in which he played an older version of Ryan Gosling’s Noah Calhoun, earned him a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
Among his many achievements and awards, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; he received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement award in February 2005; and received the annual Career Achievement Award in 2010 from the Television Critics Association.
James Garner was one of those memorable actors who proved to be versatile both on television and in film, no matter what age he was. And for this, the Academy is grateful to him.
Our prayers and deepest condolences go to the family of James Garner.
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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Warner Brothers Studios