James Garner died yesterday on July 20, 2014, of natural causes, he was 86.
An amazing actor who was not only versatile but always so entertaining to watch. He had success on both the small and big screen equally. He actually started out as a swimsuit model at age 16, making $25 an hour. From there he joined the Merchant Marines as well as the National Guard and served in the Korean War where he actually won two Purple Hearts. Afterward, he returned to Los Angeles, California and started acting. His reasoning behind this was, in his own words: “What was I qualified to do to make a living? Nothing. You don’t need qualifications as an actor or a politician. And I didn’t want to be a politician.”
After he got a contract with Warner Bros., he was cast in different movie and television roles, eventually leading to his role on the television series, “Maverick”. He played in many other movies both during and after Maverick, as well as the series, “The Rockford Files” as Jim Rockford. He also came onto the show “8 Simple Rules” after the death of actor, John Ritter. He continued with his movie career until his death.
Garner had many problems with his knees, mostly due to having done most of his own stunt work when he worked on The Rockford Files. After many surgeries over the years, he finally had both knees surgically replaced in 2000. He also had quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988, as well as a minor stroke in 2008, from which he recovered.
Garner met his wife, Lois Fleishman Clarke, at an “Adlai Stevenson for President” rally in 1956. They were married only two weeks later and stayed that way until his death. They had two daughters. One was a seven year old daughter from Lois’s previous marriage, Kim, whom Garner later adopted, as well as a daughter, Greta “Gigi”, that the two had together. He and his wife were quite happy and were by one another’s side for almost sixty years.
James Garner was not only an incredible actor, husband and father, but also an amazing human being. He was one of several celebrities who joined Martin Luther King, Jr. on the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”. Garner remembers sitting in the third row while listening to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in his autobiography. He had a smile that was able to make you smile no matter what your mood, was kind, compassionate, caring and loved by many. He will be dearly missed.