The Rockford Files

The Show “The Rockford Files”, Cast Pictures, Trivia!

This series is about a private investigator named Jim Rockford (James Garner).

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A kind, cautious, honest and easygoing man who bears more than a slight resemblance to the character of Bret Maverick, (a character that was also played by Garner more than a decade before). Rockford spent five years in San Quentin Prison for armed robbery, a crime that he didn’t commit, before finally being pardoned and turning to a career as a private detective. Now, he lives in a somewhat broken-down, mobile home near the ocean in Malibu, California, that also doubles as his office.

Unlike most private detectives, Jim Rockford is a man who does his best to avoid confrontations, often does not carry a weapon and buys his clothes off the rack. He is rather unconcerned with how much money he earns and more so about helping whomever it is that has hired him. He also does his best not to involve himself in “open” cases and maintains a close relationship with his former cellmate, Evelyn “Angel” Martin, (Stuart Margolin) despite the fact that Angel is constantly getting Jim into trouble, illegal and otherwise.

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Another close friend of Jim’s is Sgt. Dennis Becker, (Joe Santos) a homicide detective with the LAPD who desperately wants to move up in the department. Jim is constantly asking the overworked Becker for information and favors such as, running license plates through the DMV or police computer checks. Although often, Becker is the one who is made out to be the hero, courtesy of Jim, on many of his cases.

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He has a close relationship with his father, Joseph Rockford, (Noah Beery, Jr.) who is better known as “Rocky” to most everyone, including his son. Rocky is a former “Seabee” of the United States Navy,  (Seabees are known for building bases, paving many miles of road and taking care of countless construction projects since their creation during World War II) as well as a partially retired truck driver. He is always hounding his son to quit the PI business and find a safer and more stable line of work such as truck driving. But in spite of his desire for Jim to quit the business, he often gets roped in to helping him on cases, by offering helpful advice or even assistance at times. On occasion, Rocky has even been known to require his son’s services himself. Jim’s mother is referred to only indirectly and never shown or named. The rare times that he and his father talk about her, leads one to believe that she died years ago.

Any time that Jim finds himself in trouble or gets arrested, he calls upon his friend and attorney, Elizabeth Davenport, (Gretchen Corbett) to come and help him out. Beth (as she is usually referred to) is an optimistic, strong person with a dogged nature and it is hinted at that she and Rockford had a romantic relationship of sorts at one time, but are now just friends. Later, she goes off to write a book and begin a private practice of her own and Jim seeks the advice of a disbarred attorney who befriended him named, John “Coop” Cooper, (Bo Hopkins) whose specialty is legal research.

Although Jim has a number of one-night stands and several very short-lived romantic interludes, he never embarks upon any permanent relationships. Sometimes a cat that frequents his mobile home keeps him company, but more often than not he spends his nights alone. He drives a gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit that he is more than adept at handling. He quite often performs a special move when he is cornered or trying to evade a tail, known as the “Jim Rockford turn-around”. He has a small advertisement in the yellow pages and an answering machine with this standard greeting: “This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I’ll get back to you. (Beep)”

My Opinion

This show was very entertaining to watch. James Garner played this role (as he did so many others) to perfection. He managed to combine an air of seriousness with just a hint of comedy. I give this series 8 out of 10.

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The Cast

Jim Rockford-James Garner
Joseph ‘Rocky’ Rockford-Noah Beery, Jr.
Dennis Becker-Joe SantosOfficer Billings-Luis Delgado

Recurring Cast

Officer Billings-Luis Delgado
Evelyn ‘Angel’ Martin-Stuart Margolin
Beth Davenport-Gretchen Corbett
Captain McEnroe-Jack Garner
Lt. Doug Chapman-James Luisi
Alex Diel-Tom Atkins
Solly Marshall-Joe E. Tata
Booking Sergeant-Pepper Martin
Dorsey-Nick Dimitri
Peggy Becker-Pat Finley
Bernie Seldon-Stanley Brock
1st Hood-Bruce Tuthill
‘Anthony Boy’ Gagglio-George Loros
Cowboy-John Davey
County Clerk-Fritzi Burr
Carl Richman-Fred Lerner
Harold Jack Coombs-Robert Webber
Agent Al Jollett-DEA-Ken Swofford
Hammel-Scott Brady
Deputy Police Chief Eugene W. Towne-Byron Morrow
2nd Workman B.J.-Robert Ward
Syl-Luke Andreas
Johnny Lo Salvo-Ted Gehring
Jake Sands-Raymond O’Keefe
Bell-Chuck Hicks
Vern St. Cloud-Simon Oakland
Clyde Russell-Walter Brooke
Arnold Love-Michael Lerner
Agent Mike Wolf-Joshua Bryant
D.A. John Pleasance-Gerald McRaney
Brice-George Wyner
Bob Parsons-James Murtaugh
Charles Martell-Leo Gordon
L.J.-Al Stevenson
Dr. Wetherford-Jack Collins
Nurse-Sandra de Bruin
Officer Al Mazursky-Bucklind Beery
Campaigner-Ed Crick
Linda Hassler-Corinne Camacho
Doris Parker-Sharon Spelman
Edward Moss-Mills Watson
Augusto DePalma-Eddie Fontaine
John ‘Coop’ Cooper-Bo Hopkins
Armand Teasdale-Bill Quinn
Det. Caselli-John Furlong
Barbara Kelbaker-Joan Van Ark
Leon Fielder-Ned Beatty
Megan K. Dougherty-Kathryn Harrold
Gandolph Fitch-Isaac Hayes
Danny Green-John Pleshette
Lance White-Tom Selleck
Frank Falcone-Hector Elizondo
Lori Jenivan-Sharon Gless
Kendall Warren-Lauren Bacall
Marcus Aurelius ‘Gabby’ Hayes-Louis Gossett, Jr.
Audrey Wyatt-Linda Evans
Sara Butler-Lindsay Wagner
Richie Brockelman-Dennis Dugan

Trivia

Sadly, James Garner died on July 19, 2014, of a massive heart attack, he was 86 years old.

Jim Rockford’s telephone number is 555-2368. This was the same number shown in the in-movie ad for the “Ghostbusters”.

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Noah Beery, Jr. (Joseph “Rocky” Rockford) attended Harvard Military Academy.

In the mid to late 80′s, James Garner was the TV and radio commercial spokesman for Mazda cars. Reportedly, each year he was given one Mazda vehicle of his choice, along with a cool $1 million. He chose one Mazda truck and three RX-7′s, and was known to drive them quite often.

James Garner, (born James Scott Bumgarner) met his wife, Lois Fleishman Clarke, in 1956. They married just two weeks later. In his words: “We went to dinner every night for 14 nights. I was just absolutely nuts about her.” She had a daughter from a previous marriage that Garner adopted, Kim, and they had a daughter together as well named, Greta (Gigi). Sadly, Garner died less than a month before their 58th wedding anniversary.

The father of Noah Beery, Jr. was Noah Beery, Sr., who was also an actor. His uncle, the Oscar-winning Wallace Beery, actually became the world’s highest-paid actor (at that time) by the year 1932.

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During what would be The Rockford Files last season, the show went into hiatus because James Garner was having back trouble as well as trouble with his knees and his doctors advised him to take some time off. He eventually decided not to return to the show and it was cancelled with ten episodes still left to film.
Incidentally, the reason that Garner had such problems with his back and knees was due to his insistence on performing most of his stunts himself, especially if it involved car chases or fist fights. He finally had both knees replaced in 2000.

David Chase who created the popular HBO series, “The Sopranos“, was a writer/producer for The Rockford Files. During The Sopranos first season, there is a scene in a retirement home and the residents are watching television. And although what they are watching cannot be seen, the music playing is the theme to The Rockford Files.

Joe Santos (Dennis Becker) was in the business for a long time before finally getting a break in the movie, “”The Panic in Needle Park”. The star of the film was actor Al Pacino, who was a friend of Santos’.

James Garner joined the Merchant Marines at the age of only 16, after dropping out of high school. During the Korean War he was wounded two times and received two Purple Hearts.

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Noah Beery, Jr. was married twice and had three children, as well as three step-children.

In TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time”, the character of Rocky Rockford was ranked at #45.

In April of 2006, a ten foot bronze statue was unveiled of James Garner as Bret Maverick, in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. There is also a street named after him there called: James Garner Avenue.

The license plate to Jim Rockford’s car was 853-OKG. James Garner said in an interview that the number was actually created by his agent at the beginning of the show and stood for the date of his first acting job, (August 1953) the state he was from, (Oklahoma) and his last name.

James Garner won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Jim Rockford.

Noah Beery, Jr. died on November 1, 1994, at the age of 81, due to a cerebral thrombosis.

The series was created by Roy Huggins and Steven J. Cannell. Huggins was also the creator of the television series, “Maverick” which is where James Garner first gained popularity.

The theme music to the series was released as a single and went to #10 on the Hot Billboard 100. It stayed on the chart for sixteen weeks, as well as won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for the year 1975.

James Garner says he learned a lot by watching the late actor, John Ritter on the television series, “Three’s Company”. He later joined the show that Ritter was on when he died, “8 Simple Rules” as a permanent cast member.

On TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2002, The Rockford Files was ranked #39.

In an interview given by John Wayne in 1973, he named James Garner as the best American actor.

James Garner’s mother died when he was only five years old. He then lived with relatives for a few years and was later reunited with his father after he remarried a woman named, Wilma. Garner said that he hated his stepmother, who beat not only him but his two brother as well. She also forced Garner to wear a dress in public as another form of punishment. He eventually got into a physical altercation with her when he was 14 years old to keep her from killing him in retaliation. That ended his father’s marriage to his “wicked stepmother”. His brother, Jack, is quoted as saying: “She was a damn no-good woman”.

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In 2010, David Shore wrote and produced a pilot for a remake of The Rockford Files series for NBC, with actor Dermot Mulroney in the lead role but it was not picked up by the network. Some said that it was not well written and that the lead was miscast so they gave it to Peter Berg. It has still not come to fruition, however.

Noah Beery, Jr. appeared with his father in the silent film, “The Mark of Zorro”, when he was just seven years old.

James Garner was one of a few celebrities to join Martin Luther King, Jr. in the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963.

The “Jim Rockford turn-around” that was so popular on the show, is an evasive driving technique that is taught to Secret Service agents that are driving for the President of the United States.

James Garner co-starred with Sally Field in the 1985 film, “Murphy’s Romance”. Columbia Pictures actually did not want to make the film, as it did not include sex or violence but they eventually agreed. They did not, however, want Garner for the role of Murphy, but instead wanted actor Marlon Brando. But Sally Field and director, Martin Ritt insisted on Garner. The studio was owned at that particular time, by the “Coca-Cola Company”, so a portion of the deal was made to include both Field and Garner saying the word, “Coke”, in addition to having Coke signs appear distinctly throughout the movie. In A&E’s Biography of James Garner, Sally Field said that her on-screen kiss with him in the movie, was the best cinematic kiss she had ever experienced.

Joe Santos had a recurring role on the popular HBO drama, “The Sopranos“, as “Consigliere Angelo Garepe”.

The character of Jim Rockford got a new model-year Firebird Esprit every year of the series, starting with the 1974 model. However, once they got to the 1978 model they reportedly stopped, as James Garner did not like the restyled front end of the 1979 model.

James Garner’s autobiography was published in 2011, and the most shocking piece of information to come from the book was the fact that he had smoked marijuana since he was in his late teens.

Between 1994 and 1999, there were eight Rockford Files reunion TV movies. Most of the cast from the original show was reunited with the exception of Noah Beery, who died in November of 1994. The first of the eight movies aired that same month and was dedicated to him in these words: This picture is dedicated to the memory of Noah Beery, Jr. We love you and miss you, Pidge.” (Pidge was Beery’s nickname.)

James Garner had quintuple by-pass heart surgery in 1988.

Joe Santos has been married to his wife, Mary Montero, for nearly 60 years and they have two children.

James Garner was involved with many charitable causes and was a volunteer with Save the Children.

Noah Beery, Jr. was known for both films and television. Some of his work includes: “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “Red River”, “Riverboat”, “Hondo”, “Magnum, P.I.”, “Murder She Wrote“, “The Waltons” and “Wagons West”.

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James Garner loved auto racing and in addition to many other things, he drove the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1977, and 1985.