Home   >   Movie Stars   >   G   >   James Garner

James Garner

One of Hollywood's most popular actors, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winner James Garner most recently starred opposite Gena Rowlands in the critically acclaimed hit movie The Notebook for which he earned a Screen Actors Guild Nomination for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role. He recently completed filming The Ultimate Gift.

Garner has long been regarded as one of America's foremost and distinguished actors, continually maintaining his popularity over time. In 2003 he starred in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, having just wrapped production as Chief Justice Thomas Brankin in CBS's one-hour legal drama series First Monday which was on the air for the 2002-2003 television season. Also in 2003 Garner signed on with the cast of 8 Simple Rules and continued with that series thru 2005. In 2002 he starred in the original mini-series Mark Twain's Roughing It, for the Hallmark Channel. In 2001, audiences heard him as the voice of Commander Rourke in Disney's summer hit Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In 2000 he starred in Space Cowboys opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland for actor/director Clint Eastwood and in the Showtime telefilm The Last Debate based on the novel by PBS' Jim Lehrer. He also co-starred in the four final episodes of Chicago Hope for CBS-TV and lent his voice to the character God, in Carsey-Werner's animated series God, the Devil and Bob.

Continuing to easily transition between film and television, Garner has starred in many projects for both mediums over the past few years. In 1999, he starred in the CBS made-for-television movie One Special Night, which set a ratings record. The love story 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 TNT made-for-television-movie Legalese, which brought him his third SAG Award nomination.

In 1997, he starred in the Paramount Pictures film, Twilight, with Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman for director Robert Benton; in the HBO Original Motion Picture Dead Silence with Marlee Matlin and Lolita Davidovich; and then opposite a stellar cast, including Sissy Spacek, Sam Sheperd, Sonja Braga and George Carlin in the critically-acclaimed miniseries Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo, the follow-up to Lonesome Dove. In 1996, he starred with Jack Lemmon in the Warner Bros. film My Fellow Americans.

Since 1994, Garner has starred as Jim Rockford, one of his best known and loved characters, in seven two-hour Made-for-Television Movies of The Rockford Files for CBS Television. The first show, which aired in November 1994, was rated the highest Made-for-Television Movie of the 1994-95 season. This marked the second year in a row that Garner appeared in the #1 Made-for-Television Movie.

One of Garner's most touching performances to date came in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation Breathing Lessons, the highest rated Made-for-Television Movie of the 1993-94 season, for which he earned an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination. Also in 1994, Garner brought to the big screen another of his unforgettable characters, co-starring with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster in the Warner Bros. film Maverick, which grossed over $100 million domestically.

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 in a Mini-Series or Special.

Garner's accolades include both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor for his roles in the 1984 telefilm Heartsounds with Mary Tyler Moor and the 1986 telefilm Promise with James Woods. Promise, produced by Garner-Duchow Productions 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. Garner was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as well as Executive Producer of the Most Outstanding Television Drama of the year.

Coming from a background with no ties to show business, Garner was born on April 7, 1928 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 hit 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 roughly 40 films, including The Children's Hour, The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily (his personal favorite), 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, and HBO's 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 a Mini-Series or Special.

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 a racing team called American International Racing, its members driving at such sites as Daytona and Sebring and in off-road races like Baja and he has driven the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions in 1975, 1977 and 1985.

Garner is involved with many humanistic causes. He helped organize 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 most recently 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, Oklahoma 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 he 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.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2007.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

James Garner Facts

Birth NameJames Scott Bumgarner
BirthdayApril 7, 1928 (93)
BirthplaceNorman, Oklahoma, USA
Height6' 3" (1m91)  How tall is James Garner compared to you?
Awards2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Life Achievement Award
1994 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Mini-Series or a TV Film (for Barbarians at the Gate)
1991 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Mini-Series or a TV Film (for Decoration Day)

Selected Filmography

The Notebook
The Land Before Time: The Complete Collection
Support Your Local Sheriff
The Great Escape
The Ultimate Gift
The Aviator
Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam
Pearl Harbor
Continue » Find more details on the James Garner Movies page