James Garner, who starred in The Rockford Files and The Notebook, has died aged 86. The actor died in his Los Angeles home yesterday, Saturday 19 July. His cause of death is not yet known.
Garner (born April 7, 1928 - *and whom I shared the same birthday) had a career both in television and in cinema, although is best known for his role as Jim Rockford in Seventies television series The Rockford Files, for which he won an Emmy. He also played the original gambling Bret Maverick in Fifties comedy Western Maverick, before starring in the big-screen version with Mel Gibson in 1994.
Duel at Sundown, a 1959 episode of Maverick saw James Garner star alongside a young Clint Eastwood. An epic fistfight between Garner and Eastwood segues into a surprising showdown. The episode was written by Richard Collins and Howard Browne, and directed by Arthur Lubin. In 2000 Eastwood reunited again with Garner in Space Cowboys. Directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, it stars Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner as four older "ex-test pilots" who are sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite, unaware that it is armed with nuclear missiles.
Born in Oklahoma in 1928, he changed his name to Garner from Bumgarner after a Hollywood studio credited him as “James Garner” without his consent. He started acting by playing small parts in television series Cheyenne and soon went on to assume the role of Marlon Brando’s friend in 1957 film Sayonara.
His six-decade career saw him act in over 50 films including The Children’s Hour, The Great Escape, The Thrill Of It All, Murphy’s Romance, Space Cowboys and more recently The Notebook, in which he plays the older version of Ryan Gosling.
In February 2005, he received the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In his home town, Norman in Oklahoma stands a 10-foot bronze statue of Garner as Bret Maverick.
He is survived by his wife, Lois Clarke, whom he married 14 days after meeting, and his two children, Gigi and Kimberly, Clarke’s daughter from her first marriage.