Remembering James Garner (1928-2014)

$200 a day, plus expenses.

My favorite cowboy and favorite detective has passed away at the same time. Of course, I’m speaking of James Garner who portrayed cowboy Bret Maverick (Maverick) in the 1950s and  private investigator Jim Rockford (The Rockford Files) in the 1970s. And, James Garner is also a native of my home state. He was born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1928.

James Garner (1928-2014)

He didn’t start out on the small screen though. He began his career on the silver screen and appeared in more than 50 films during his lifetime. He appeared in classic movies such as The Great Escape (1963), Grand Prix (1966), Victor, Victoria (1982) and The Notebook (2004).

James Garner became a celebrity and household name in his role as Bret Maverick from 1957 to 1960. Maverick was a western comedy that competed directly with The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show. His film career continued to flourish throughout the 1960s.

Rockford Files Title Card

In the 1970s, a couple of Hollywood producers decided to reboot Maverick, but this time as a modern private detective series. The Rockford Files debuted in 1974 and ran until 1980. Many of the Maverick story lines were incorporated into The Rockford Files.

Garner shared the screen on The Rockford Files with an unexpected costar – his 1974 Pontiac Firebird Esprit, painted in the same copper mist color each season. The model year of his Firebird changed each year as the show progressed but stopped with the 1978 model year because Garner didn’t like the newly restyled front-end treatment on the 1979 and 1980 Firebirds.

Rockford's Firebird Esprit

Garner did many of his own stunts on The Rockford Files including some pretty slick driving moves used to evade the various people chasing him around Southern California. In fact, a driving maneuver  is named after his character since he used it so frequently and so effectively during the show’s six season run.

Rockford Files Model Car

The Rockford, or J-Turn, allowed Jim Rockford to change the direction of his car 180 degrees and escape anybody who might be chasing him – even from a dead end street. So effective is this driving technique, the Secret Service is trained on how to do a proper Rockford in order to protect the President of the United States.

I have seen every episode of The Rockford Files at least 5 times as well as all of his films. He will be missed very much. Thank you, Jim. From one Okie to another. Rest in peace.

Rockford Agency Ad

$200 a day, plus expenses.

Author: Dirque du Soleil

He's from the past so he's knows the future.

%d bloggers like this: