James Garner: The Dynamic Career and Painful Life of the "Maverick" and "Rockford Files" Star

Herbie J Pilato

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According to IMBD.com, actor James Garner, who died in 2014 from acute myocardial infarction, had both knees replaced in 2000. He also had quintuple heart bypass surgery in 1988.

In 1979, Garner was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer while filming the 1979-80 season of The Rockford Files, his second hit TV series following Maverick.

As IMDB continued to report, Garner was disappointed that The Rockford Files was "canceled due to his illness. He accepted his doctor's advice not to beat up his body any further and decided not to object when NBC canceled The Rockford Files while he was recuperating from another knee surgery during an unscheduled hiatus, learning that the incomplete (and thereby shortened) sixth season would be his last."

But beyond his physical struggles, Garner was quite an accomplished and eclectic individual. As IMDM also notes, "He had English, Irish, German, and remote Welsh and Swiss-German, ancestry. His maternal grandfather, Charles Bailey Meek, was described in Garner's New York Times obituary as a 'full-blooded Cherokee.' However, Charles had no documented Native American ancestry, and Meek and his own parents, Thomas Jefferson Meek and Delilah Frances Bailey, were all listed as 'White' on United States Census records."

As IMDB also mentions, Garner was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1990.

"Early in his career," IMBD documents, "...he appeared as one of the judges in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial on Broadway. He said his part consisted mostly of listening to the other actors, and he said it was a great lesson, even though he sometimes had to fight to stay awake during the evening performances. He felt listening was just as important as speaking as an actor.

"Before he became an actor, he had at least 70 different jobs, from pumping gas to laying carpet (working along with his father), to modeling men's clothing."

In 1956, Garner and his wife, Lois Clarke, were wed at the Beverly Hills Court House just two weeks after they met at a political rally for 1956 Democratic Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson, IMDM chronicles.

As IMDM notes further, Garner was involved with many humanitarian causes and was a volunteer with Save the Children. He also helped to organize the Hollywood contingent of Martin Luther King's famous "March on Washington" civil rights demonstration.

As IMDB concludes, Garner worked with the legendary Doris Day and was the first actor to co-star with Julie Andrews in three movies: The Americanization of Emily (1964), Victor/Victoria (1982), and One Special Night (1999).

To read more about James Garner, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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