I’m sad. One of my favorite actors has gone to his final Oscars awards in the sky. James Garner died last Saturday at age 86, at his Los Angeles home.
While he was best known for his long-running television series, Maverick (1950s) and The Rockford Files (1970s), my favorite show of his was the little-known, little watched TV show, Nichols.
Garner had a talent that transcended the magic of Hollywood. He started in the biz in his early ‘20s and went on to spend the next six decades at the top of anyone’s acting ladder.
He was awarded the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award and got his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma stands a ten-foot bronze statue of Garner as Maverick. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 for his role in Murphy’s Romance.
Also rare in the glitzy biz of a professional acting career is the longevity of his marriage to Lois Clarke, whom he married a mere 14 days after meeting. He is also survived by his two daughters, Gigi and Kimberly, Clarke’s daughter from her first marriage, according to i100 News on the Internet.
James Garner served his country in the Army and National Guard. He served in the 5th Regimental Combat Unit in Korea during the Korean War, where he was wounded twice, receiving the Purple Heart.
This was a man people liked. His films and television series, with one exception, won high reviews and held longevity on the small screen. The only exception was my favorite of his, the TV series, Nichols, that lasted just one season. The storyline brought a soldier home to the fictional small town of Nichols, Arizona in 1914. After 18 years in the Army, he agreed to take on the job of sheriff, unknowing then that another family had taken over the town where his family had once held power. In a Hatfield vs. McCoys-like reign of terror, he had to find ways to keep peace without violence.
James Garner, when interviewed for Emmy TV Legends, acknowledged that Nichols was at the top of his list of favorite roles he had played. Mine, too. This actor had a rare and expansive talent. He was a genuinely nice guy, from all reports. I will long remember some of the great roles he played. I think I’ll try to find the Nichols series on DVD.