James Garner, R.I.P. – A Screen Legend: That’s Not Why I Loved Him

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James Garner has died at 86 and when I read the report, I realized I didn’t know a whole lot about him. But that part made me happy, because a big part of why I loved him is I didn’t know a whole lot about him.

garner3Other than him being a fabulously handsome and studly Hollywood hunk.. so, tell this woman she’s wrong? by T.M. Burroughs

Most celebrities you know a lot about it’s because their lives and scandals are plastered on the front page of tabloids or featured on Entertainment Tonight.

Worse yet, they are the subject of the hecklers at TMZ.

And while it is undeniable that those sorts of gossip column-esque celebrity reports contain a bumper crop of crap, there are plenty of private truths shared, too.

Like Jennifer Lopez’s track record with men; where and what is tattooed upon Angelina Jolie; how Beyonce’s sister went wild in an elevator; who got what on whose dress in the oval office.

We know these tidbits because they happen, then an aggressive paparazzi or unscrupulous insider shares the 411. Or a White House intern saves the evidence.

rockfordJames Garner, famous for playing low-key, but clever, manly men on TV as Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford, and in movies like The Great Escape, was low profile in real life, too. Whatever skeletons he may have had remained  away from the public.

Garner was an Emmy winner and Oscar nominee, but my admiration for Garner has less to do with his achievements in film and TV and more to do with his work ethic and commitment to marriage.

JG7He treated acting as a job not a route to fame, and his marriage as a lifelong partnership not a momentary fling to be flaunted in the press.


Here’s a little more, from bio.com:

Garner became the first Oklahoman drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. Two battlefield injuries and Purple Hearts later, Garner returned to the United States. Although he never finished high school, he did earn his GED.


In response to commendation of his tireless work on set, and common man connection¬†toward cast and crew, Garner modestly said he strove, “to be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth.”


According to SAG President Melissa Gilbert, Garner “is a man who has served his peers, his community and his country with integrity and quiet generosity. He epitomizes class, style, wit, and depth. He serves as a role model for all of America’s actors.”

Garner married Lois Clarke, and only Lois Clarke, after knowing her only a few weeks.

JG3They stayed married from 1956 until his death yesterday. He raised Lois’s daughter from her first marriage and they had one daughter together.

But you didn’t hear about either of the girls being picked up for doing street drugs, or boozing it up and getting a DUI.

Garner limited his barroom brawls to TV and movie sets, not L.A. nightclubs. Once during the run of Maverick, Clint Eastwood had a guest role as a notorious villain; Garner and Eastwood duked it out in character. Garner won, as scripted.

I doubt that another James Garner will come along anytime soon.

garnerBut, for the record, he’s what I want: a handsome, ambitious worker who is a one-woman man with “class, style, wit and depth”.

Too much to ask? He’s out there.


THBby T.M. Burroughs

Read more at: Resistant Gray




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