James Garner, from Rockford Files to the Notebook, Dies at 86

The editor is not a huge fan of so-called chick-flicks, but I do occasionally cry at movies.  If I were to recommend one movie that you and your loved one could watch together and tear-up, it would be the Movie, ‘The Notebook.’  While I grew up on the Rockford files, that tough feisty man could act on a sensitive side as well.  RIP James Garner!

From the New York Times Obituary for James Garner:

James Garner, the wry and handsome leading man who slid seamlessly between television and the movies but was best known as the amiable gambler Bret Maverick in the 1950s western “Maverick” and the cranky sleuth Jim Rockford in the 1970s series “The Rockford Files,” was found dead in his California home on Saturday night, the Los Angeles Police said. He was 86.

Mr. Garner, who smoked for most of his life, even after open-heart surgery in 1988, had suffered a stroke in 2008.

Mr. Garner was a genuine star but as an actor something of a paradox: a lantern-jawed, brawny athlete whose physical appeal was both enhanced and undercut by a disarming wit. He appeared in more than 50 films, many of them dramas, but as he established in one of his notable early performances, as a battle-shy naval officer in “The Americanization of Emily” (1964) — and had shown before that in “Maverick” — he was most at home as an iconoclast, a flawed or unlikely hero.

An understated comic actor, he was especially adept at conveying life’s tiny bedevilments. One of his most memorable roles was as a perpetually flummoxed pitchman for Polaroid cameras in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in droll commercials in which he played a vexed husband and Mariette Hartley played his needling wife. They were so persuasive that Ms. Hartley had a shirt printed with the declaration “I am NOT Mrs. James Garner.”

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