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Oklahoma Native, Actor James Garner, Dead At 86.

James Garner @ 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Actor James Garner passed yesterday in his home in Brentwood, CA, of apparent natural causes. Born James Scott Baumgarner in Norman, OK, Garner was a Purple Heart recipient, serving in the Army during the Korean War.

Garner’s acting career began in 1954 with a non-speaking role in the Broadway production of ‘The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.’ But it was his role as wisecracking, riverboat gambler Bret Maverick in the television series ‘Maverick‘ that brought him to prominence. His role of laid-back private investigator Jim Rockford in ‘The Rockford Files‘ from 1974 to 1980 brought him an Emmy Award in 1977 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Garner performed his own stunts on the program (as he did throughout his career), and the physical toll it took caused him to pull the plug on the show himself. He was later nominated for an Oscar for his role in the big screen production of ‘Murphy’s Romance‘, in which he starred opposite Sallly Field.

Garner’s over 100 film and television roles included the 1981 big screen homage to ‘Maverick‘, in which he played the roll of Marshall Zane Cooper (Mel Gibson took over the roll of Bret Maverick) as well as parts in ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Thrill Of It All’, “My Name Is Bill W’, ‘Move Over Darling’, ‘The Notebook’ and ‘The Hour Of The Gun’, in which he played Wyatt Earp opposite Jason Robards’ Doc Holliday. Garner also starred opposite Mariette Hartley in a series of successful tv commercials for Poloroid Cameras in the 1970’s.

Quiet and self aware, Garner compared his acting style to that of the legendary Spencer Tracy. “His idea was to be on time, know your words hit your mark and tell the truth.” In 1990 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Garner leaves his wife of 56 years , Lois, and a daughter, author Greta Garner-Hewitt. James Garner was 86.

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