Oklahoma native James Garner, who died last Saturday, was one of the first American leading men who came up on television; he was also among the last generation who straddled roles in westerns, detectives and war heroes effortlessly.
Garner was “Maverick” on ABC (1957-60). As Bret Maverick, his bonhomie and good nature would rather reason than resort to a gunfight. Garner’s film credits included my favorite film, “The Great Escape” (1963) in a role as the scrounger that made an indelible impression upon me as a child, and imprinted exactly the kind of man I wanted when I grew up. After this film he starred in “The Americanization of Emily” (1964),”36 Hours” (1965) and “Grand Prix” (1966).
The way he played his character in”Maverick” bled perfectly into another wonderful TV series in “The Rockford Files” (1974-80), playing a detective financially down on his luck and trailer bound. Garner’s Jim Rockford was perfection and you couldn’t keep your eyes off him in any frame.
Now he’s gone, but for those if us who grew up watching him on the smallscreen and in film, he will forever be the perfect American male archetype of decency, sly wit, great hair and good cheer.
ENCORE Westerns Tribute to James Garner Features the Hit TV Series “Maverick,” Plus Films “A Man Called Sledge,” “Support Your Local Gunfighter” and “Skin Game”
ENCORE Westerns will commemorate the life of film and television legend James Garner, with an all-day marathon on Saturday, July 26, beginning at 8am ET/PT, which will include his hit TV series “Maverick,” along with three of his films, Skin Game, Support Your Local Gunfighter and A Man Called Sledge.
Garner, an Academy Award® nominee, two-time Primetime Emmy® winner and three-time Golden Globe® winner, made his claim to fame on the TV show “Maverick” (1957-62) and later in “The Rockford Files” (1974-1980). One of Garner’s most notable performances later in life was in the 2004 movie, The Notebook, which garnered him a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award®. He was most recently remembered for his role on the TV show “8 Simple Rules” and his last feature film, The Ultimate Gift.
Garner worked numerous jobs and served in the Army for two years during the Korean War before falling into acting at the age of 25. He began his acting career at Warner Bros. doing guest spots and small roles in films before landing his major role as Bret Maverick on “Maverick.”
A Man Called Sledge (1970)
In the Old West, a gun fighting outlaw connives his way into a prison in hopes of getting his hands on a large shipment of gold stored there. The movie is directed by Vic Morrow and stars James Garner, Dennis Weaver and Claude Akins.
Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)
A con artist arrives in a mining town controlled by two competing companies. Both companies think he’s a famous gunfighter and try to hire him to drive the other out of town. The movie is directed by Burt Kennedy and stars James Garner, Suzanne Pleshette and Jack Elam.
Skin Game (1971)
Quincy Drew and his black friend Jason O’Rourke have pulled off every dodge known for conning a well-heeled sucker, but it wasn’t until they hit on the old skin game that they started to clean up. The game is simple. Jason, though born a free man in New Jersey, poses as Quincy’s slave as the pair ride through Missouri and Kansas in 1857. Quincy picks a likely mark in each town, sells Jason to him for top money and rides out of town. Then Quincy and Jason get back together on the road to another town, because if Jason can’t just run off after dark, Quincy finds a way to spring him loose. The movie is directed by Paul Bogart and stars James Garner, Louis Gossett Jr. and Susan Clark.
ENCORE Westerns James Garner Marathon – Saturday July 26th beginning at 8am ET/PT
- 8:00 am Maverick Episode #1
- 9:00 am Maverick Episode #2
- 10:00 am Maverick Episode #3
- 11:00 am Maverick Episode #4
- 12:00 pm Maverick Episode #5
- 1:00 pm Maverick Episode #6
- 2:00 pm Maverick Episode #7
- 3:00 pm Maverick Episode #8
- 4:00 pm Maverick Episode #9
- 5:00 pm Maverick Episode #10
- 6:00 pm Maverick Episode #11
- 7:00 pm Maverick Episode #12
8:00 pm Skin Game
9:45 pm Support Your Local Gunfighter
11:20 pm A Man Called Sledge