James Garner is an American actor who has starred in several television series including his roles as Bret Maverick in the 1950s western-comedy series Maverick; Jim Rockford in the 1970s detective drama The Rockford Files; and the father of Katey Sagal's character on 8 Simple Rules, following the death of John Ritter.
He has starred in more than fifty movies, including The Great Escape (1963), Paddy Chayefsky's The Americanization of Emily (1964), Blake Edwards' Victor Victoria (1982), Murphy's Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and The Notebook (2004).
In 2003 he starred in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, having just wrapped as Chief Justice Thomas Brankin in the drama series, First Monday. In 2002 he starred in the original miniseries, Mark Twain's Roughing It.
In 2001 audiences heard him as the voice of Commander Rourke in Disney's animated film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In 2000 he starred in Space Cowboys, and in the telefilm, The Last Debate.
He also co-starred in the four final episodes of Chicago Hope and lent his voice to the character of God in the animated series, God, the Devil and Bob.
In 1999 he starred in the made-for-television movie, One Special Night, which reunited him with his Americanization of Emily and Victor/Victoria co-star, Julie Andrews. The same year he starred as a high-powered lawyer in the television film, Legalese, which brought him his third SAG Award nomination.
In 1997 he starred in the film, Twilight; in the HBO Original Motion Picture, Dead Silence; and then opposite a stellar cast in the critically-acclaimed miniseries, Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo — the follow-up to Lonesome Dove. In 1996 he starred in the film My Fellow Americans.
One of Garner's most touching performances came in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation, Breathing Lessons, for which he earned an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination. In 1994, Garner brought to the big screen another of his unforgettable characters in the film Maverick.
Throughout Garner's career, he has received recognition for performances ranging from his sensitive portrayal of Murphy Jones in Murphy's Romance, which earned him an Academy Award-nomination for Best Actor in 1985, to the misguided and over-reaching business tycoon F. Ross Johnson in Barbarians at the Gate, for which he received a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination in 1993 for Best Actor.
Garner's accolades include both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor for his roles in the 1984 telefilm, Heartsounds, and the 1986 telefilm, Promise, which won five Emmy Awards, including one for Garner as executive producer of that year's Outstanding Television Drama.
In 1989 Garner-Duchow produced The Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation, My Name is Bill W. The telefilm received seven Emmy nominations, and Garner was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as well as Executive Producer.
Coming from a background with no ties to show business, Garner was born on April 7 in the mid-sized city of Norman, Oklahoma. His father, Weldon Bumgarner, was of European ancestry and his mother, Mildred, was one-half Cherokee.
When Garner was five his mother died and he and his brothers, Jack and Charles, went to live with relatives. At 14 he left home, did odd jobs, and at 16 signed on for a stint in the Merchant Marines.
In the meantime his father had moved to Los Angeles. Garner followed, helping his father in the carpet-laying business while attending Hollywood High School.
He eventually got a job modeling swimsuits, but before his career got started, he found himself in the Army with the distinction of being Oklahoma's first draftee to the Korean conflict, during which he was awarded a Purple Heart.
After the war, he returned to the U.S. and eventually moved back to Los Angeles. When a friend offered him a small part in a Broadway production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, he took it.
That part led to a $150-a-week contract with Warner Bros. His first on-camera appearance was with Clint Walker on the TV series, Cheyenne. His feature film debut came in Toward the Unknown.
Next, he gave an acclaimed performance as Marlon Brando's friend in the film, Sayonara, which led to his first big break — the starring role in the television series Maverick, which brought him true stardom.
Since then, he has starred in dozens of films, including The Children's Hour, The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily (his personal favourite), Grand Prix, Cash McCall, Move Over, Darling, Support Your Local Sheriff, The Skin Game, The Thrill of It All and Victor/Victoria.
On television, he played one of the world's most famous private detectives, Jim Rockford, in The Rockford Files from 1974-1980, for which he won an Emmy Award in 1977, and starred in the series Nichols.
His other television roles include the miniseries Space, Glitterdome and 1990's Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation, Decoration Day, for which he received an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
In total Garner has received one Academy Award-nomination, 15 Emmy nominations with two wins, 13 Golden Globe nominations with four wins, two People's Choice Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. He was also the recipient of a Clio Award for his Polaroid commercials.
Away from acting, he is involved with auto racing. From 1967-69, he owned the racing team, American International Racing, with its members driving at such sites as Daytona and Sebring and in off-road races such as Baja. He has driven the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions — in 1975, 1977 and 1985.
Garner is involved with many humanistarian causes. He helped organise Martin Luther King's march on Washington for Civil Rights in 1963 and went to Vietnam in 1967 to visit the troops.
He is a member of the National Support Committee of the Native American Rights Fund and the National Advisory Board of the United States High School Golf Association.
He has been involved with the "Save the Coast" movement to stop offshore drilling in California, and is also involved with Save the Children.
In 1986 Garner was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He was made Ambassador of Cultural Arts for the State of Oklahoma in November of 1989. He won the Most Valuable Amateur Trophy at the AT&T Golf Tournament in February 1990.
He was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK, in March 1990. In 1993 he received the Western Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television from the Gene Autry Museum, and in 1995 received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of Oklahoma.
A gifted and ardent golfer, Garner lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lois. They have two daughters, Kim and Gigi.