Entertainment Movies Actor James Garner dies aged 86

Actor James Garner dies aged 86

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James Garner, who starred in the television show The Rockford Files, has died. He was 86.

Showbiz website TMZ said Garner passed away at his home on Los Angeles on Saturday.

· James Garner: his films and life in pictures

Garner built a career playing ruggedly charming, good-natured anti-heroes, starring in movies such as The Great Escape and Victor Victoria, and in later years, popular romance film The Notebook.

Garner was born in Oklahoma and entered showbusiness in the 1950s after serving in the Korean War.

He gained fame on the TV western Maverick, playing wise-cracking Bret Maverick, a gambler and ladies’ man who got by on cunning rather than a sixgun and would just as soon duck a fight as face a showdown.

Garner in 2004's 'The Notebook'.
Garner in 2004’s ‘The Notebook’.

He left the show in 1960 in a contract dispute with producers, but brought his Maverick-like alter ego to a series of films, including Thrill of It All, Move Over, Darling, The Great Escape and Support Your Local Sheriff!

Garner had said his screen persona as a guy smart enough to steer clear of a fight ran only so deep.

“At times it’s like me, but I used to have this temper. I used to get in a fight in a heartbeat. But that was many years ago,” he told Reuters.

Garner had another prime-time hit as ex-con turned private detective Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974 until he abruptly quit the show in 1980. He reprised Rockford for several TV movies in the late 1990s.

The role earned him an Emmy Award in 1977, his only victory in dozen TV acting nominations. He also received an Oscar nomination for his work opposite Sally Field in the 1985 feature comedy Murphy’s Romance.

Garner said his favourite role was as the cowardly American soldier who falls for Julie Andrews before being sent on a dangerous wartime mission in The Americanisation of Emily. He teamed up again with Andrews in the 1982 film Victor/Victoria.

He returned to the big screen in 2000 in Clint Eastwood’s old-boys astronaut adventure Space Cowboys and two years later in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Garner suffered a stroke in 2008.