Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Star of the Month


BORN: April 7, 1928

DIED: July 19, 2014

AGED: 86 yrs

DIED FROM: Massive Heart Attack

REAL NAME: James Bumgarner or Baumgarner

MARRIED: once, to Lois Clarke. Married 2 weeks after meeting. Stayed married 58 years

CHILDREN: 2 daughters

OSCAR NOMINATION: once- “Murphy’s Romance” 1985

KNOWN FOR: His straightforward manner. Being a family man and honourable to them and his friends. Private. Doing his own stunts especially on “The Rockford Files”.  Fought for his rights against the studios with “Maverick” and won!  He also fought the execs  when doing The Rockford Files but was not as successful because, when he took time off for his health, the cancelled the show. Known to be a great kisser! Sally Field said he was the best and he knees felt weak whereas Julie Andrews felt her actual knees buckle after a kissing scene.  He revealed he was a lifelong pot smoker and it helped his pain. Oh and he was a staunch Democrat.

TALENTS: A major race car driver who actually competed in the Indianapolis 500 a couple of times. He played golf and loved sports.

What can I say, I love this actor and had a major crush on him when he was in The Rockford Files…I had no care that I was 11 and he was…a bit older. He looked ruggedly handsome and he was so funny on his hit TV show, “The Rockford Files.” I had no idea how much pain he was in while making  the TV show because of the stunts he did which wreaked his knees resulting in 2 knee replacements plus an ulcer and a heart attack. In fact, due to the stresses he was enduring from the show, mainly behind the scenes with the executroids, he separated from his wife and had to get his health, physically and emotionally. They, obviously, reconciled  and were happily married until he passed away. The staff and actors were so loyal to him that they all came back to do some more Rockford Files specials. Julie Andrews loved working with him and…vice versa.

This man was raised by his dad and a few step moms since his real mom died when he was about 5 years old but one step mother was very, very abusive and often beat him and his 2 older brothers. He is also a veteran of the Korean War and was wounded twice, once by enemy fire being injured in the hands and face and the other time, by friendly fire where he got smacked in the butt.  He ended up in movies and credits Charles Laughton as a mentor. He enjoyed working in film but, also, TV and, although he loved working with Julie Andrews, when he worked on TV commercials with Mariette Hartley, many people thought they were married in real life…they had great chemistry. John Wayne thought he was the best actor of his generation and he was one of the best as an actor and a human being who took no guff!


1. The Children’s Hour-1961

2. The Great Escape-1963

3. The Thrill of it All-1963

4. Move Over, Darling-1963

5. The Americanization of Emily-1964

6. Support Your Local Sheriff-1969

7. Support Your Local Gunfighter-1971

8. Victor/Victoria-1982

9. Murphy’s Romance- 1985

10. My Fellow Americans- 1996


1. Maverick- 1957-1962

2. The Rockford Files -1974-1980

3.  8 Simple Rules -2003-2005


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    Yessum, I remembered that you run this feature early every month. In the 1950s and early 60s, my dad and I watched every TV Western that came down the pike, and Maverick was one of them. It was my introduction to James Garner.

    It's good to know that Garner was a devoted husband and family man rather than the typical bed-hopping Hollywood playboy. Marrying someone only two weeks after meeting and staying married 58 years is quite an accomplishment, a Disneyish storybook romance. It is also impressive that he did his own stunts on The Rockford Files. I worked at an NBC affiliate throughout the 1970s and early 80s and often voiced promos for the Rockford series. Garner's co-star Noah Beery Jr. was already a familiar face to me by the time Rockford started airing because I had watched him in the mid 50s co-starring with future Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz in Circus Boy.

    Win or lose, I admire Garner for fighting for his rights against the powerful studios. I also like his politics. That Hussy! Sally Field always claimed that I, Shady DK, am the best smoocher! It is also very interesting to know that Garner was a Korean War vet and an actual Indy race driver at one point. It's sad to learn that James had a wicked stepmom who beat him and his brothers and that he lived for years with chronic pain as a result of his stunt injuries.

    Garner delivers a great speech in the black-comedy The Americanization of Emily, and he and Julie Andrews do indeed have palpable chemistry. I remember James and Mariette appearing in that series of Polaroid commercials, a very successful ad campaign that really did convey the impression that they were a married couple. I have also seen Garner in Wm. Wyler's the Children's Hour with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, co-starring with Doris Day in The Thrill Of It All and Move Over, Darling, and paired again with Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria.

    Thank you for shining the spotlight on James Garner, a fine actor who was a good guy and a straight shooter off camera. Enjoy your Tuesday, dear friend BB. I'll be back to see you tamale on Song day!

  2. I always enjoyed watching him but had no idea of this background information. Thanks.

  3. James Garner was a favorite actor of my mother. Therefore I used to see him a lot on the TV when I was with her. You had to love his style. And I didn't know he married his sweatheart after 2 weeks and made it for 58 years.Happy April Birgit.

  4. Ah yes, he was a great one. I've seen six of his films.

  5. HUGE James Garner fan, here, starting with Maverick, when I was a little kid. ♥ And, I can still hear the Rockford Files theme in my head. Nice to know he truly was a good guy, just like his public image. ☺

    P.S. There's still time to vote in my April 1st BOTB.

  6. I loved the Rockford Files too! Not sure I ever saw him in anything else.

  7. It always does my heart good to see someone married all those years to the same person.

  8. You just had to love James Garner and what fascinating info you shared with us. Woot. Woot. On being a dem:) And marrying and staying married to his wife after knowing her two weeks. He was the best.

  9. I remember seeing James Garner in reruns of The Rockford Files. Like you, I had a crush on him. He was such a cute guy. I am glad you shared all this information I knew practically nothing about, except that he did his own stunts, which I read about somewhere.

  10. Hi Birgit…just loved the Rockford files…even watched a recent re run of them such a gorgeous looking man….hope you have a lovely Easter xxxxx

  11. Another great pick! Ambling and relaxed is how I always think of him. He had such an easy, effortlessness to his acting and personality. He never seemed to push and his rapport with his costars came across naturally.

    Loved him in Maverick and though I wasn't a regular Rockford Files watcher I liked the show.

    This is my top ten of his theatrical features.

    The Thrill of It All
    The Wheeler Dealers
    The Americanization of Emily
    Support Your Local Sheriff
    The Great Escape
    Skin Game
    Move Over, Darling
    Support Your Local Gunfighter
    Murphy's Romance

    I like Victor/Victoria but that movie really belongs more to Julie, Robert Preston and Lesley Ann Warren than him.