James Garner, the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor whose career spanned six decades, passed away Saturday at his home. He was 86.
After appearing in various roles on stage and the television screen in the 1950s, Garner landed one of his most well-known and beloved roles in 1957, that of Bret Maverick on the Western television series Maverick. The role brought his first Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, and he played the quick-witted rogue until 1960.
Throughout the next decade, Garner turned from the small screen to the silver screen, appearing in films like The Great Escape, Boys’ Night Out, Hour of the Gun, The Americanization of Emily, Support Your Local Sheriff! and Grand Prix. In the 1970s, he returned to television for his second iconic role on the hit series The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974-1980. He won the Emmy for the role of Jim Rockford in 1977, and was nominated four other times over the life of the series. In 1981, Garner returned to his defining role from the 1950s in the short-lived television series Bret Maverick. Health issues and conflicts with MCA TV over syndication payments for “The Rockford Files” led to cancellation after one season.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he returned to film, starring in Victor/Victoria, Tank, Sunset, Fire in the Sky, My Fellow Americans and Murphy’s Romance, for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination opposite Sally Fields. “My heart just broke,” said actress Sally Field in a statement. “There are few people on this planet I have adored as much as Jimmy Garner. I cherish every moment I spent with him and relive them over and over in my head. He was a diamond.”
In 1994 Garner once again appeared in Maverick, this time in the movie adaptation of the original television show. He played Marshall Zane Cooper opposite Mel Gibson’s Bret Maverick. He also found success making television movies, starring in eight The Rockford Files movies in the mid-90s, as well as the critically acclaimed Barbarians at the Gate.
Since 2000, he alternated between television and film, appearing on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules and in films like The Notebook, Space Cowboys and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Comic fans will recognize him as the voice of Shazam in DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.
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