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THE ROCKFORD FILE IS CLOSED; Curtain falls on charming actor's career of six decades.

Byline: STEVE GORMAN reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

JAMES Garner, who was best known for playing a private eye in The Rockford Files, has died aged 86. The actor, who enjoyed a six-decade career playing ruggedly charming anti-heroes, died of natural causes at his Los Angeles home on Saturday night. Oklahoma born Garner entered show business in the 50s after serving in the Korean War.

He rose to fame in the TV western Maverick, in which he played wisecracking gambler and ladies man Bret Maverick, who got by on his wits rather than a six-shooter. Garner left the show in 1960 in a contract dispute but brought his Maverick-like alter ego to a series of films, including The Great Escape. With his wry, low-key presence, good looks and thick dark hair, he was hailed by some as Hollywood's next Clark Gable or Cary Grant.

But he ended up scoring his next big hit on the small screen as canny private detective Jim Rockford, a wrongly accused ex-convict. The role earned him an Emmy Award in 1977. The Rockford Files ran from 1974 until Garner abruptly quit the series in 1980. But he reprised the role for several TV movies in the late 90s. Garner received an Oscar nomination for 1985 comedy Murphy's Romance.

In 2005 he was given a Life Achievement Award by the Screen Actors Guild. In a 2004 interview, Garner said his screen persona as an easygoing guy smart enough to steer clear of a fight actually ran only so deep. He admitted: "At times it's like me but I used to have this temper. "I used to get in a fight in a heartbeat but that was many years ago." Garner said his favourite role was as the cowardly US soldier who falls for Julie Andrews before being sent on a dangerous wartime mission in 1964 film The Americanization of Emily. He suffered a stroke in 2008, two years after his last big-screen role as a wealthy grandfather in The Ultimate Gift. Garner is survived by his wife Lois Clarke, who he married in 1956, and two daughters.

CAPTION(S):

LONG CAREER In Maverick and receiving Life Achievement Award

EASY S -Y GOING Garner in the 70s, when he was at the peak of his fame

FILM FAF ME As flight lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 21, 2014
Words:389
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