Here are some photos of the statue of James Garner as Bret Maverick taken during our family trip to Garner's hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. One of the saddest things about 2014 was the death of Garner in August. He was one of the few actors who made the smooth and seamless transition back and forth from television to movies and vice versa. His likeness also appeared in comics based on the Maverick TV series.
Maverick was Garner's first TV show before he found box office success in such films as The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, and Murphy's Romance, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Garner and Julie Andrews were the romantic leads together in three films: The Americanization of Emily, Victor/Victoria, and the made-for-TV One Special Night.
The early seventies found Garner in the short-lived western series Nichols, co-starring a young Margot Kidder who went on to Superman fame as Lois Lane. Garner is best remembered by subsequent generations for his Rockford Files TV series in which he played a private eye for six seasons. He revived his role as Bret Maverick in the 1977 New Maverick TV movie and for one season of the early 80s Bret Maverick series. He starred as Captain Woodrow Call in the Lonesome Dove sequel Streets of Laredo, and reprised his role as Jim Rockford for several Rockford Files TV-movies in the 90s.
Garner's later films include Space Cowboys (with Clint Eastwood who had guest-starred on Maverick), The Notebook, The Ultimate Gift (with former Catwoman Lee Meriwether), and a Maverick reboot. He played ongoing characters in later seasons of TV's Chicago Hope and in Eight Simple Rules.
In his personal life, Garner was a Korean War hero. He was politically active fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, but he did not (mis)use his celebrity to sway political elections. His longevity in show business is paralleled by his marriage to the same woman for nearly 58 years. He is also remembered for the kindness he showed to fans.
Garner is my favorite actor of all time. With him gone I'm not even sure that anyone else would qualify as my favorite current male actor. Garner played his parts so naturally that it never seemed like he was acting. His characters were often quick-witted, intelligent, soft-hearted, always trying but never succeeding to evade trouble.