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James Garner dies aged 86

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Legendary actor James Garner has died aged 86 after suffering ill health since a severe stroke in 2008.

James Garner famously played the laconic private investigator Jim Rockford.

The actor won an Emmy for the role in 1977 and starred in 122 episodes of the hugely successful show from 1974 to 1980. He returned to it in the 1990s with eight Rockford Files TV movies.

Another role, as the poker-playing Bret Maverick in the Western comedy, was also a hit with TV viewers, running for 60 episodes from 1957 to 1962. It ran again for another 18 episodes from 1981 to 1982.

James Garner famously played the laconic private investigator Jim Rockford in Rockford Files

James Garner famously played the laconic private investigator Jim Rockford in Rockford Files (photo Getty Images)

Rockford Files was later made into a film in 1992 starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, but also starred Garner – this time on the right side of the law, as Marshal Zane Cooper.

In 1963’s iconic World War Two film The Great Escape, James Garner played flight lieutenant Robert Hendley, an American in the RAF, alongside Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasence.

The film depicted the daring escape by prisoners of war from the German Stalag Luft III camp through a 336ft long tunnel. Only three reached safety and of the 73 recaptured, 50 were shot.

He also had success with films including Grand Prix in 1966, a fictional account of the Formula One season featuring actual racing footage.


James Garner went on to be Oscar-nominated for best actor in 1986 for the romantic comedy Murphy’s Romance, co-starring Sally Field, in which he played a small town pharmacist.

James Garner married his wife, the TV actress Lois Clarke, in 1957. They had two daughters, Kimberly from her previous marriage, and their daughter Greta.

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