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After a long battle with health issues, actor James Garner passed away last night at his Los Angeles home at the age of 86. Garner (born James Scott Bumgarner) was best known for his leading role in the TV series Maverick and The Rockford Files. Unlike his taciturn tough-guy colleague Clint Eastwood (above), the highly-decorated combat vet (two purple hearts) was known for his affability/amiability and quick wit. Garner did much to show that gun guys are also regular guys, and for that we thank him.

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    • Normally I don’t get too misty-eyed when a celebrity passes.

      He was one of the exceptions.

      RIP, James.

  1. Rockford Files was one of the best shows ever. I liked the commercials he did for beef, too. “Real food for real people”

    • “This is Jim Rockford. I’m not in right now, but leave your name and number, and I’ll get back to you.”


  2. His wiki bio says Merchant Marines and National Guard then Regular Army. Wounded in Korea twice, once by mortar, awarded Purple Heart. Once by friendly fire for which he received the Purple Heart thirty years later.

  3. Paul Harvey said he smelled garlic from the North Koreans breath 50 yards away and thus kept his platoon from being surprised by a night attack. He hated garlic.
    Fine actor, nice guy. Magnificent in the “Maverick” movie with Mel Gibson.
    He will be missed.

  4. When I hear of a guy like Garner who was a Korean war vet, I have to ask the question: Who in the current crop of celebrities have ever done anything for the country, no less been a part of the military? I honestly can only think of the country singer Keni Thomas who was an Army Ranger and part of the Black Hawk Down action in Somalia.

    RIP Jimbo….

    • Well, there was this actress who did go to the air attack front lines, was in uniform, toured bomb shelters, boosted troop morale, flew the flag, and sat on a AAA mount and supposedly shot at enemy planes. The actress was Jane Fonda.

      • Negative. Jane Fonda sat on AA guns for the VC (Viet Cong communist government) and berated our soldiers. She aided and abetted our enemy and should have been tried for treason years ago.

        I am hoping you are being facetious. 🙂

        • @Brian Cucksee

          Reading between the lines, what I got out of Toms post:

          The uniform she was wearing was VC. The troops whose morale she boosted were VC. The flag she flew was VC. The AAA piece she sat on was VC. The ‘enemy’ planes she supposedly shot at were U.S.

    • Jim Beaver, from Justified, Supernatural, and Deadwood. A former US Marine who served in Vietnam and proudly liberal. A gentleman that I have shot the breeze with for years on the ‘net and whose spirit is in the right place.

      Anyway, back to James Garner, you can watch Maverick every week day on satellite TV and I do when I have a chance. Great show and fun acting.

      Many folks don’t remember but Garner was a semi-pro race car driver. He drove prototypes for a few years at the Daytona 24 hour races.

      Oh, and according to Wiki, Garner was a strong Democratic supporter.

      • Yes I noticed the Democrat ties too. Most of what he did happened before the democrat party went evil & hard left. Like a JFK or Humphrey democrat. That doesn’t diminish Jim Garner in my eyes.

        • “I’m a ‘bleeding-heart liberal,’ one of those card-carrying Democrats that Rush Limbaugh thinks is a communist. And I’m proud of it.”

          — James Garner

    • Dennis Franz (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Buffalo Nickel) was a Paratropper with the 82d Airborne and is a Vietnam Vet. Michael Caine is a British Army vet of the Korean War.

      • Forgot Charles Bronson, who actually was a gunner on a B29 (not a conscientious objector as per urban legend), Drew Carry was a Marine, Ice-T did four years in the Army, Kris Kristopherson was an Army Ranger. There are actually quite a few but not nearly as many from today’s generation as from Garner’s.

        • Ltc f… that was my point. The guys you named are either dead or pushing 60 like Ice T. I don’t see any of the young bucks who have said “hey there are more important things “. Its ok for them to star in “action ” movies or pose all chiseled and shirtless but god forbid they should choose to spend a couple of years in some service to community / country.

        • This legend is grounded in the “Death Wish” movie – Paul Kersey is the conscientious objector from the Korean War (to emphasize the change in the main character of the movie).

    • In all fairness to current celebrities, the United States has not been involved in a legal war since the Korean War with the exception of the Persian Gulf War which lasted slightly less than a year, I believe. Many celebrities of today do contribute funds and time to the underprivileged and I feel that that is just as honorable as serving time in the Armed Forces. Yes, we are always involved in someone else’s wars these days but I don’t judge that to be an honorable thing in terms of who we as a nation are.

  5. R.I.P. – one of best childhood memories is sitting with both my grandfathers and my father to watch Maverick. They loved every minute of that TV show and never tired from the reruns. Both of my grandfathers always wished they grown up as American cowboys. (they were both born in Italy 🙂 )

  6. RIP

    Sounds like a much better character overall than the current crop of asshats.

    @Pascal, one of my grandfathers, too. I think he got some of it out of his system during his time in South and Central America, pre US, but he loved reading Louis L’Amour in Spanish.

  7. My favorite episode from “Maverick” (but tied with the “I’m working on it”).

    “It was an accident… you can’t hit anything fanning a gun like that!”

    • What was amusing is that they guy he supposedly shot at the end there was John Wesley Hardin, one of the most dangerous men in the west, who carried a Colt Army .44 on his hip and a 36 Navy as backup. Killed over forty men in his day (all in “self-defense” of course), the first when he was 15.

    • I remember the “I’m working on it” show. The only one I actually remember the plot, but they were all good.

  8. One of my favorites of all time. Super nice guy… My thoughts and prayers are with his family here in Oklahoma and elsewhere. You will be missed…

  9. Best gun twirling routine I’ve ever seen on Maverick S3E7 “Full House”
    RIP Jimmy

  10. Jim Garner was born just outside Norman OK. The old timers here in Norman remember him as a very likeable bad boy. Local legend says that he was no stranger to the sheriffs department back in the day. He made significant donations to the University of Oklahoma drama department and benefitted a number of charities in the Norman area. I remember that he made a promotional video for the United Way some years back.

    The city of Norman erected a statue (in his Maverick persona) and named a street in his honor about six or seven years ago. I worked security for the ceremony and had the honor of shaking Jim’s hand and visiting with him for a few minutes. He asked me to check if the county still had any warrants for him! At that time he was in pretty bad shape and had great difficulty getting around.

    Jim was a democrat as was just about everybody in Oklahoma back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Hey Reagan was a Democrat back in those days too. It was only later when the Democratic party gave up on the decent law abiding working people that Oklahoma became one of the reddest states.

    I drove past his statue in downtown Norman today and was pleased to see that his friends and neighbors had placed flowers in his memory.

    • True, with only a couple of exceptions, Oklahoma went Democrat in presidential elections through Truman in 1948. They’ve gone Republican ever since, with the single exception of Johnson in 1964.

      In the so called good ol’ days of Democrats back then, the party was all about racism and statism, just like now. All that’s changed since then is their PR campaign, which has blacks thinking they’re now free and whites thinking they’re still free. Oklahoma has long since seen through the Democrats’ cynical charade and voted Republican. Garner never did see the reality and continued to be a flaming leftist until the end.

      • What Bollocks! – Mr Garner was not ‘leftist,’ he was a man with a sense of social justice and a conscience, that clearly saw people on the basis of merit, not race or lineage. Given the USA has become one of the most socially unequal economies in the developed world, as has the mine in the UK having also copied Reganite / Thatcherite / Milton ‘bloody friedman’ economics which led us to the second biggest financial crash after 1929, one can hardly say deregulation of the financial markets, laissez-faire politics and economics has been a success. So you’ll blame it on equal rights will you? I’m guessing you’re a USA nutjob member of the Teaparty?

  11. Garner was great in the 1963 movie “The Great Escape”. One of my all-time favorites with Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and a bunch of other big names.

  12. Great actor , liked his character in “The Great Escape ” , maybe that part was close to his personality . Will miss him . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  13. From the Variety Magazine review of Garner’s Memoir:
    Garner is what he calls a “bleeding-heart liberal,” having participated in the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and later advocating for a number of progressive causes. He voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, he writes, but never cast a ballot for a Republican again. He voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and calls him “the most intelligent presidential candidate we’ve ever had. I think Obama runs a close second.

  14. Oh who cares? He’s just another Hollywood raging liberal. He’s a rabid Reagan hater, an admitted Obama admirer and card carrying liberal. Go read his own book in his own words, if you don’t believe me.

    Garner bragged of, having voted for Ike in 1952, voting for the oh so intelligent Stevenson in 1956 and never voting Republican ever again. Supposedly he wasn’t a fan of the Republicans’ stand on civil rights. This despite Eisenhower having signed two civil rights bills (the first since Reconstruction) and having sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation ruling.

    Garner goes on to brag about having participated in Dr. King’s 1963 March on Washington. (Legendary civil rights activist, superior actor and NRA President Charleston Heston was there, too. Maybe they met? Perhaps that’s Garner’s tenuous connection to firearms and mention on TTAG?) Yet, a greater percentage of House and Senate Republicans voted for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act than did the Democrats with whom Garner gleefully identifies.

    Did he play a few entertaining roles? Sure, so have lots of other liberals. What does the man’s day job have to do with him as a person? He’s another liberal horror of a human being whom I won’t miss.

    • Actually Jonathan, I liked him much more than I do you. Of course, he was famous, unlike you. And he did serve in the military, have you? Oh, and told the world what he thought, without hiding behind the name James – Oklahoma.

    • You’ll pardon me if I find that casting a vote for Adlai Stevenson in 1956 instead of President Eisenhower (whose own positions would have him at odds with the modern GOP) does not reduce very much Jim Garner in my estimation.

    • James Garner had the right as all Americans do to freedom of speech. He earned two purple hearts and never said what was popular, just what he believed. He was a family man married for 58 years and shied from stardom. He had many friend of opposing political views. I remember a time when someone wasn’t dismissed simply because they believed in something other than you. And what the hell was wrong with his march on Washington? By holding Diahann Carroll’s hand he was making a statement against bigotry. He was an American hero, not a draft dodging coward like both Reagan and Bush Jr.

      • Reagan, of course, was ordered to active duty during the war, and while his time was largely spent making films for the War Dep’t and doing war bond drives, I’ve heard nothing to indicate that he was either a draft-dodger or a physical coward. I think that unlike some (few) people who truly stepped up during the war, Reagan simply served his time and did what he was asked to do. He didn’t get covered in glory as a result, but he doesn’t deserve to be called a dodger or a coward any more than some conscripted private who spent the war shoveling horse feces in Louisiana does.

        Of course, the above does not mean agreement or endorsement of Reagan’s politics or policies followed while in office in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., due to my quaint tendency to avoid smearing a person just because I disagree with some or all of their politics.

      • President George W. Bush never dodged the draft. Quite the opposite, he entered voluntarily into military service during war time. He excelled in the hazardous task of flying a fighter plane. He specifically volunteered to serve in theater but was denied as the plane he was checked out on was not used for combat in Vietnam. Calling George W. Bush a draft dodger says nothing intelligent or correct about him while divulging a great deal about his detractors. Oh yah, and W was one of our greatest war Presidents – period.

        • Dubya should devote the rest of his life to looking for those WOMD that hadn’t existed in Iraq for a decade or three.

  15. Garner on Heston from Variety Review Again:

    He’s also critical about Charlton Heston — either as an actor or defender of civil rights. As Garner describes it, Heston appointed himself leader of the Hollywood group that went to the March on Washington, and even tamped down a suggestion by Marlon Brando that the performers chain themselves to the Lincoln Memorial. But the next year, Heston switched parties and backed Barry Goldwater.

  16. Without Reagan as President of the Screen Actors Union the
    Hollywierd troop would not have their oh so well paying residuals they enjoy for all their years! The Union wanted to surrender the quest for them but Ronnie said no not while he was Union President!
    An Original Thought Sir Garner! —AB°

    From Variety Review:
    Although he defends actors who express their political views, he is critical of those who run for office.

    “Too many actors have run for office,” he writes. “There’s one difference between me and them: I know I’m not qualified. In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn’t qualified to be governor, let alone president. I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president. My duties consisted of attending meetings and voting. The only thing I remember is that Ronnie never had an original thought and that we had to tell him what to say. That’s no way to run a union, let along a state or a country.”

    Garner writes that he was asked to run for Congress in 1962 as a Republican, and “it didn’t stop them when I told them I was a Democrat. …They just thought I could win.” In 1990, Democratic leaders approached him about running for governor of California, but the discussion got to the issue of abortion and Garner says he answered, “I don’t have an opinion, because that’s up to the woman. It has nothing to do with me.” The conversation pretty much stopped there.

  17. Memory eternal.

    Great guy, just loved everything he was in and did.

    I have fond memories of the “Rockford Files” in particular. Garner was the coolest guy around when that series was on.

  18. @ Pat Robins
    Garner was a self described ‘bleeding heart liberal’ as posted!
    We can see from your posts that you Sir are a follower of
    Engels et al 1849!
    No Freedom to be allowed except that deamed by our Betters — Liberals!

  19. I will miss “Ole Jimmy” and Rockford files is one of my favorite old shows. I’m sad to hear he died. Rest In Peace! James.

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