10 Things About James Garner

The Garner FilesI stumbled across James Garner’s memoir at the library, so I checked it out on a whim.  Garner is one of those actors I’ve always liked but never really focused on.  I didn’t even realize how many movies I’ve seen him in until I was looking at the filmography in the book.  If you’d asked me a few days ago what The Castaway Cowboy, Tank, Victor/Victoria, and The Great Escape have in common, I would have probably drawn a blank.  I was born after Maverick, and The Rockford Files didn’t make much sense to me as a teenager, but at least I remember his Polaroid commercials!

Garner’s book is an enjoyable read.  It’s silly to say I learned a lot about him, because I knew almost nothing about him before.  Rather than write a regular book review, I thought it would be more fun to list ten things I found especially interesting about him.

  1. James Garner was born in Oklahoma.  (What’s so interesting about that?  Well, so was I!)
  2. He can’t stand turkey or garlic.  His dislike of turkey came from being forced to eat unfrozen birds left over from WWII during the Korean War.  That would certainly turn me off for life.
  3. He sued Warner Bros. for breach of contract while doing Maverick.  His legal fees were more than he earned while under contract to the studio, but he thought it was worth it to get free.
  4. Garner married his first and only wife, Lois, 17 days after they met.  Or 24 days, if you ask his wife.  They agree on when they married, but not on when they met.
  5. He was at the March on Washington in August, 1963, where he sat in the third row for Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
  6. He witnessed the 1962 Munich Schwabinger Riots while filming The Great Escape.
  7. Garner is relaxed and charming onscreen, but he’s got a temper.  He also won’t tolerate bullies.
  8. He’s been in constant pain from arthritis and other ailments since the 1960s, and he can’t remember what it’s like to be pain-free.
  9. His favorite of all his movies is The Americanization of Emily with Julie Andrews.
  10. He thinks the worst movie he ever made is Mister Buddwing, but there are some other ones that he’d like to forget.  Actually, he can’t remember a thing about The Distinguished Gentleman with Eddie Murphy, and he can live with that.

Obviously there’s a lot more in The Garner Files.  I even found the chapters about golf and racing pretty interesting.  The organization of the book is a little scattershot, but the man himself is always entertaining.

James Garner (3rd from right) with other Warner Bros. western actors

Update:   Tomorrow, James Garner turns 84.  Happy Birthday!  And for fans of Maverick, Warner is finally releasing a complete DVD set of the first season on May 29th.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Katelyn on April 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I love James Garner. I’ve never seen the TV show Maverick, but I just loved Garner’s role in the 1994 movie. Thanks for sharing these facts, I can honestly say I didn’t know much at all about his life.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Susan Bernaek on April 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Always loved James Garner, from “Maverick” on. So glad you found his book and wrote this post.

    Reply

  3. One more thing to add about James Garner ~ he was unerring gentlemanly and gracious on the occasions I got to meet him at Warners (my mum worked there in WWII while in the service, and later she was a scripter). And quite possibly he was and is to me, one of the most handsome charmers ever! So many celebrities have little or no tolerance for fans but Mr Garner never came across that way. He captivated my kid brother (who was about 11 at the time) and gave him a little “tour” of a Maverick set. He didn’t have to take the time or effort but he did. That’s something one never forgets.

    Reply

    • What a wonderful thing to add! Thank you for sharing this.

      Reply

      • Posted by Suzanne Moore on April 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        Absolutely agree! I belonged to Garner’s Fan Club for 50 YEARS, and all the things he did for his fans – well, just unbelievable! He’s the BEST.

        Garner has a Facebook Fan Page that is run by a fellow who was on the Rockford set for three years – other’s who there are also present on the page, as is Jon Winokur. They all adore him.

        Winokur has said, “He really IS that guy you see on screen, only he’s better.” and “Garner is the most DECENT person I have ever met.”

        Reply

  4. I’m about halfway through The Garner Files. I’m learning a lot about him I didn’t know. Great book, great guy!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Nelia Green on April 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Watched trailer for Murphy’s Romance – remember really liking this film in 1984 (egads! that’s 28 years ago). Happy B-day James Garner! Have requested audio book, too bad James isn’t the reader.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Nelia Green on April 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    The 9.5 hr audio book is a terrific way to enjoy James Garner’s wonderful and engaging story – narrator Michael Kramer was an excellent choice, and I gave little thought that it wasn’t Garner himself. I now have The Rockford Files in Netflix Instant Queue to enjoy over time, and The Americanization of Emily is in the mail. Have always been a fan, and have seen many of his films – most recently The Notebook, which is superb.

    Reply

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