In what is very sad news to me, as someone who calls Oklahoma my home, James Garner died Saturday evening at the age of 86. TMZ reported his passing, saying that an ambulance was sent to his Los Angeles home around 8 p.m. PST and he was pronounced dead when they arrived on the scene.
Here in Norman, Oklahoma, there is a street named after the legendary actor and I attended a special ceremony honoring his career here where the City of Norman presented him with an award and unveiled a statue in his honor, one which sits proudly in downtown Norman.
While accepting the award in the legendary Sooner Theater, Garner spoke about how he used to attend movies in that theater when he was a youngster and would sit in the balcony, tossing popcorn onto those beneath him. It was just a great speech that showed his wry sense of humor and genuine personality.
James Garner first gained his popularity as a television star, first in the western series Maverick and then in the private investigator series The Rockford Files. He also enjoyed a nice movie career, with highlights including The Great Escape, Victor Victoria, The Notebook and Murphy’s Romance, where he picked up an Oscar nomination.
James Garner also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Western Heritage Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and the Television Hall of Fame the same year. In 2005, he won the Screen Actor’s Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2010 won a Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association.
James Garner left behind a wife, Lois, and daughter, Greta.