The Garner Files, A Memoir by James Garner
If you’ve ever seen one of my “top 10” favorite actor lists, you already know that James Garner is one of my absolute favorites. Like Lucille Ball (another absolute), James Garner wasn’t just phenomenal on the small screen, he left his mark on the big screen as well. He was masterful at drama, comedy, westerns, romantic films… there simply wasn’t a role this talented actor couldn’t play.
Like a handful of stars from “Hollywood Yesterday,” he has another distinction I believe would make him very, very happy: He’s one of those actors everyone seems to like! Does he make everyone’s list of top 10 favorite movie actors? No… not everyone’s, but that’s only because they’ve yet to see…
- Murphy’s Romance
- Support Your Local Sheriff!
- Victor Victoria
- Support Your Local Gunfighter
- The Notebook
- How Sweet it Is
- Duel at Diablo
However, everyone LIKES James Garner. He had a wonderful personality, wasn’t involved in embarrassing scandals, and tried to make the world a better place for everyone… not just himself.
Anyone who has seen any of this wonderful actor’s films knows what I’m talking about when I say he had something extra special – a once in a lifetime charisma and likability that came through every scene. Debbie Reynolds, Eve Arden, Jimmy Stewart, Ann-Margret, Jack Lemmon, and James Garner are six stars I think of immediately when I think of this extra special quality.
(Continued below one of my cats, Delilah, clearly a James Garner fan as well…)
James Garner and One of His Adoring Fans, Delilah
As I’ve often said, I read A LOT about stars from old Hollywood, classic television, old music, and old radio shows. Call it a passion… or call it an obsession – either shoe fits. I’ve read about far too many men and women to even begin to count but there are a few who always, always, always stand out as having been almost too good to be true.
James Garner is one of these “too good to be true” stars. He was incredibly talented, outrageously colorful, charismatic, a very GOOD person, a loving family man, and genuinely cared for other people and animals. Civil rights and animals were particularly important to him.
Let’s just go ahead and state the obvious… he was one in a million.
The wonderful book pictured here is The Garner Files: A Memoir (Amazon link) by James Garner and Jon Winokur and it’s one of my all-time favorites. Ever seen an episode of The Rockford Files or one of the best romantic comedies (and a movie I am in love with!) Murphy’s Romance? The book reads as though Jim Rockford or Murphy Jones is visiting with you. Come on… how are you going to beat that?!
Told in the charming and self-deprecating style that has made him one of America’s most beloved celebrities—the real story behind Hollywood legend James Garner, from his Depression-era childhood to his colorful career.
His incredible story, in his own words.
One of Hollywood’s all-time great leading men, James Garner enjoyed a remarkable career spanning six decades, and whether you know him as Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford, his appeal bridges generations. Few know the real story, now told in this intimate memoir of growing up in Depression-era Oklahoma and triumphing in Hollywood.
After physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, Garner left home at fourteen. He was Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean War, receiving two Purple Hearts for combat wounds. Back in Los Angeles in need of a job, Garner reluctantly tried acting and was surprised to find his career taking off. Working with such luminaries as Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood, he became a star in his own right. He threw himself into his work, and despite stage fright and bouts of depression, constant physical pain and epic battles with the Hollywood establishment, he became the acting equivalent of a national monument.
Written with Jon Winokur, The Garner Files is a wry, engaging self-portrait chronicling the vagaries of a screen career along with the cast of personal and professional characters that helped shape a great American life. – From Amazon
James Garner and Sally Field, Murphy’s Romance
“[an] enjoyable memoir…there’s plenty to love in this book. Garner…has a knack for telling a story and finding the perfect quote to tie it all together…charming…[It] resembles a conversation with an old friend who loves to tell colorful stories.” –PublishersWeekly.com
James Garner has been one of my favorite stars for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I watched him on reruns of Cheyenne and Maverick with my dad and then, when it came to The Rockford Files, it was watched and celebrated each week like a University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball game (if you’re familiar with basketball fever in Kentucky, you’ll know how huge this was!).
We also never missed one of his movies. He was my dad’s favorite actor and he quickly became one of mine as well. He still is – right up there with James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Buster Keaton.
Being such a fan of this actor, I have read countless articles, quotes, and books. Before reading The Garner Files: A Memoir (Amazon link), I thought I knew a great deal about him and believed I had a pretty good mental picture of the actor as a person.
I was wrong. I didn’t even know half as much as I thought I knew. Not until reading about his childhood, career, and much loved family in his own words did I understand the many facets and layers to this wonderful actor and quality human being.
“Garner follows his own heroic dictum: Plenty of self-deprecating, humor, a general air of live-and-let-live, but when it comes down to it, no pulled punches. For Garner fans, ‘The Garner Files’ is catnip…it is a fine, frank and fun collection.” –LOS ANGELES TIMES
James Garner as Jim Rockford
I want desperately to give away fascinating (and often as juicy as a summer peach!) details and quotes, but (as I often say with my book reviews and movie reviews, too, for that matter), I want future readers to come across the treasure as unexpectedly as I did.
Suffice to say, you will laugh and you will cry. He was, by all accounts, as likable, honest, and funny as the many lovable characters he brought to life.
“Garner tells his life story with the same wry, self-effacing charm that characterized his classic TV characters: the laidback cowboy Bret Maverick and the down-on-his-heels gumshoe Jim Rockford…Garner comes across as likable on the page as he does on screen.” –“Kirkus Reviews”
I hope you’ll grab a copy of The Garner Files: A Memoir (Amazon link) as soon as you can and dive right in. James Garner was all class and even more entertaining and charismatic than all of his characters combined. Yes, even including Murphy and Jim!
About the Author
Jon Winokur is the author of various nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon, Zen to Go, and Advice to Writers. He lives in Los Angeles.
James Garner has starred in numerous television shows and films, from Maverick and The Rockford Files to The Great Escape with Steve McQueen and Victor Victoria with Julie Andrews.