When I was a pre-schooler, he was Bret Maverick. When I was in college, he was Jim Rockford. In the 1980s, he was a pharmacist named Murphy. All through the 1990s and early 2000s he continued to appear in the movies and on TV. Actor James Garner died Sunday at the age of 86 and even though I never met him, I feel like I knew him well.


I always felt that some of the roles that James Garner played reflected a lot of his personality.  Someone that even though he was a TV icon and film star, if you met him you could sit down have a beer and talk sports. And after reading what people who knew and worked with him had to say about him after his passing, I think my impression was correct.

As Bret Maverick in the 1950s, Garner portrayed a con man who would much rather use his brains than his six gun. However if it came to that, you knew he could use it.

It was portrayal as the low rent private eye Jim Rockford that is probably my favorite. Again, a guy who would rather use his wits before his fists. A guy who took cases that wouldn't make him a dime, but it was the right thing to do. Plus, he drove a brand nee Pontiac Firebird every year.

So even though I never met James Garner, I always wanted to. He just seemed like a regular guy that had an uncommon job. I would have sprung for the beer, too.