James Garner

James Garner
James Garner.jpg
Garner at the 39th Primetime Emmy Awards in September 1987
James Scott Bumgarner

(1928-04-07)April 7, 1928
DiedJuly 19, 2014(2014-07-19) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
OccupationActor, producer, voice artist
Years active1954–2014
Political partyDemocratic
Lois Josephine Fleischman Clarke (m. 1956)
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUsmm-seal.png United States Merchant Marine
Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1944–1952[1]
RankUS Army 1951 CPL.png Corporal
AwardsPurple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart

James Garner (born James Scott Bumgarner; April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014) was an American actor, producer, and voice artist. He starred in several television series over more than five decades, including such popular roles as Bret Maverick in the 1950s western series Maverick and Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files,[2] and played leading roles in more than 50 theatrical films, including The Great Escape (1963) with Steve McQueen, Paddy Chayefsky's The Americanization of Emily (1964), Grand Prix (1966), Blake Edwards' Victor/Victoria (1982), Murphy's Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, Space Cowboys (2000) with Clint Eastwood, and The Notebook (2004).

Early life

James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928, in Norman, Oklahoma, the youngest of three sons of Weldon Warren Bumgarner and Mildred Scott (Meek).[3][4] His older brothers were Jack Garner (1926–2011) and Charles Bumgarner, a school administrator who died in 1984.[5][6] His family was Methodist.[7] His mother died when he was 5 years old.[8][9] After their mother's death, Garner and his brothers were sent to live with relatives. Garner was reunited with his family in 1934, when Weldon remarried.[10]

Garner's father remarried several times.[11] Garner came to hate one of his stepmothers, Wilma, who beat all three boys (especially him). He said that his stepmother also punished him by forcing him to wear a dress in public. When he was 14 years old, he fought with her, knocking her down and choking her to keep her from killing him in retaliation. She left the family and never returned.[12][13] His brother Jack later commented, "She was a damn no-good woman".[13] Garner's last stepmother was Grace, whom he said he loved and called "Mama Grace", and felt that she was more of a mother to him than anyone else had been.[11]

After the war, Garner joined his father in Los Angeles and enrolled at Hollywood High School, where he was voted the most popular student. A high school gym teacher recommended him for a job modeling Jantzen bathing suits.[14] It paid well ($25 an hour), but in his first interview for the Archives of American Television,[15] he said he hated modeling; he soon quit and returned to Norman. He played football and basketball at Norman High School, and competed on the track and golf teams.[16] However, he dropped out in his senior year. In a 1976 Good Housekeeping magazine interview, he admitted, "I was a terrible student and I never actually graduated from high school, but I got my diploma in the Army."[9]

Military service

James Garner receives the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster at Los Angeles in 1983.

Shortly after his father's marriage to Wilma broke up, his father moved to Los Angeles, leaving Garner and his brothers in Norman. After working at several jobs he disliked, Garner joined the United States Merchant Marine at age 16 near the end of World War II. He liked the work and his shipmates, but he suffered from chronic seasickness.[10]

Garner enlisted in the California Army National Guard, serving his first 7 months in California. He then went to Korea for 14 months, as a rifleman in the 5th Regimental Combat Team during the Korean War. He was wounded twice, first in the face and hand by shrapnel from a mortar round, and the second time in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dived head first into a foxhole. Garner received the Purple Heart in Korea for the first wound. He qualified for a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: "As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging the enemy"), but he did not actually receive it until 1983, 32 years after the event.[14][17][18][19]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Heart Medal
World War II
Victory Medal
National Defense
Service Medal
Service Medal
United Nations Service
Medal for Korea
Other Languages
Afrikaans: James Garner
العربية: جيمس غارنر
aragonés: James Garner
تۆرکجه: جیمز قارنر
български: Джеймс Гарнър
català: James Garner
čeština: James Garner
Cymraeg: James Garner
Deutsch: James Garner
Ελληνικά: Τζέιμς Γκάρνερ
español: James Garner
euskara: James Garner
français: James Garner
Gaeilge: James Garner
한국어: 제임스 가너
Bahasa Indonesia: James Garner
italiano: James Garner
Basa Jawa: James Garner
Lëtzebuergesch: James Garner
Nederlands: James Garner
occitan: James Garner
Plattdüütsch: James Garner
polski: James Garner
português: James Garner
română: James Garner
Runa Simi: James Garner
Simple English: James Garner
српски / srpski: Џејмс Гарнер
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: James Garner
svenska: James Garner
Tagalog: James Garner
Türkçe: James Garner
українська: Джеймс Гарнер
Tiếng Việt: James Garner
Volapük: James Garner
Yorùbá: James Garner