Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner Memorabilia

Over the years I've become accustomed to favorite actors passing on. It's always sad, but it's an inevitable fact of life, and I try to focus instead on the wonderful things a performer has left behind for us to enjoy forever.

That said, I feel the loss of James Garner particularly acutely. He and his work are like a thread woven through my life, responsible for so many happy times and pleasant memories. Coming home from school to MAVERICK reruns, Friday nights with Jim Rockford, laughing over SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969), and so much more.

He's even responsible for a dear friendship which began in the late '70s, as two young teen girls were amazed to discover we weren't each the "only one" obsessed with an "old" show, MAVERICK, and that friendship continues to this day. We now live several hours apart but just had dinner together a week ago, and there was a text from her on my phone early this morning sharing gratitude that James Garner had led to our friendship.

For many, many years I was a member of James Garner's Official Fan Club, which began in 1957. He was exceptionally good to his fans. Every year a new personalized autographed photo and personally signed Christmas card arrived. I must have a couple dozen such photos and cards, and I treasure them.

For the club's 25th and 30th anniversaries he gave us several hours of his time at celebratory luncheons. (I got to sit next to him to eat at the first one...!) Everyone who came had one-on-one time for photographs, autographs, and questions. I'm sure he might rather have been with his family or on the golf course but he was grateful to his fans, many of whom had followed his career for decades, and he treated us all with graciousness and class. I'll never forget that.

A napkin from the 30th anniversary luncheon:

And let's not forget his delightful Polaroid commercials with Mariette Hartley! They were such day-brighteners. I wrote to Polaroid and they sent me this cardboard ad which has been smiling at me from a bookshelf for over 30 years now. The color has faded a bit over the years but it still makes me happy to see it so I've kept it out where I can enjoy it all this time:

Here's a program from a neat event I attended at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1993, paying tribute to MAVERICK and ROCKFORD FILES creator Roy Huggins. Jim was there to honor Roy; I'm not sure if I talked to him that night, but Stephen J. Cannell and Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who are both also gone now, signed my program:

I hope my readers will enjoy remembering James Garner and the special person he was via this peek at a small part of my collection.

Mary McNamara wrote a very nice piece paying tribute to James Garner at the Los Angeles Times ("Actor Changed What a Hero Could Be Like"). The Times obituary is here.

Incidentally, I can't help noting that MAVERICK's Bret Maverick, Dandy Jim Buckley, and Modesty Blaine have all passed on within just weeks of each other.

In closing, I think we all need a little of this today. Best opening credits sequence ever?

James Garner's daughter Gigi is active on Twitter at @mavrocksgirl if anyone would like to send condolences to the Garner family.

Jim's Official Facebook Page has been updated constantly throughout the day today with photos and remembrances, most recently by Tom Selleck and Sally Field. Drop in often.

Previously: James Garner, 1928-2014.

Update: TCM Remembers James Garner.


Blogger Kristina Dijan said...

Thanks for sharing these, great and meaningful items to have collected and remember him by. He was a movie star who was also something like a family friend, since we grew up seeing him in our homes every week as such cool and lovable characters.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your note, Kristina. That's a wonderful way to put it. Someone wrote me an email today who said something very similar, he made you feel you knew him. He was someone we could all really relate to, an immensely likeable presence in our homes on a regular basis.

Best wishes,

8:21 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Laura, I share your feelings about the unforgettable James Garner.

Thank you for your touching post.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much, Mel, I really appreciate your kind feedback and am glad to know we share such admiration for Mr. Garner.

Best wishes,

12:01 AM  
Blogger KC said...

Wow, you sat next to him? That's amazing. I love that you made a friend over your mutual Garner love too. I love all the memories you shared here.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing,Laura.
Last week I lent my sister ONE SPECIAL NIGHT. she always takes ages to watch a DVD. Maybe she'll get it out now and see what a charmer he was even in later life.
I remember when Maverick was first aired in the UK, I loved bret, but my friend preferred Bart. Oh well,they were both great.
I think I'll watch DECORATION DAY in memory of this well loved actor.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

I had not realised you were in his Fan Club and actually sat with him at dinner, Laura. How superb!
Thanks for sharing your memorabilia with the rest of us - really nice.

You even managed to bring in a tribute to Roy Huggins. To me, Roy Huggins and Charles Marquis Warren were responsible for bringing some major TV series to the screen in the "golden era". Both men have my undying thanks.

3:32 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for sharing your memories and memorabilia. So nice to know, but not surprising, that he was so kind to his fans.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Wonderful remembrances. Thank you.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your stuff and your stories.

It's great to find out he was as cool as we all figured he was.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Robby Cress said...

Thanks for sharing those memories. Those sound like some really special moments. How wonderful you got to meet someone you admired so much not only once, but multiple times. That polaroid ad is a nice piece.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Very lovely Laura. That's so nice that you have such a wonderful collection of treasures and that Garner was so generous with his fans. Thank you so much for sharing.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Great read, Laura. I feel like I need to find me some Rockford Files episodes to watch now!

6:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks to you all so much for your kind feedback and for stopping by to share your love for an actor who meant a great deal to all of us.

Best wishes,

2:38 PM  

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