I'm very sad today. Another one of my favorite people died sometime yesterday. This is not a favorite person who I knew personally or one who I hung around with at school, the neighborhood, work or even the bar. No, this is a person I spent many hours with as a viewer of his movies and TV shows. He was pretty much around most of my life. He made me cry and he made me laugh, mostly laugh. Even when he made me cry I was glad I had spent time with him. I don't think he ever disappointed me. Sure, sometimes he was funnier or more compelling than other times, but he was always damn good. He even made bad scripts and production values tolerable.
Of course I'm talking about James Garner. We lost Jim on 7/19/14 at age 86. This is the worst celebrity death for me since Paul Newman passed in 2008 at age 83. They were easily my favorite actors of the last half of the twentieth century. A couple of others came close for a few years, like Burt Reynolds, but they all faded because of personal or career problems. Matthew McConaughey has a chance to be this generation's everyman star, but he is already in his 40's and has some strange behavior traits. James and Paul performed at a high level until the end. Neither had any significant scandals in their personal lives. They both had outside interests. They were both pretty boys but didn't act that way. Most importantly neither took themselves seriously but they took their work and responsibilities very seriously. Newman was married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years, Garner exceeded that by being married over 55 years to his first and only spouse, Lois.
I've probably seen most of the stuff Garner has done, both TV and movies. I am amazed that he didn't need to build a new wing on his home to store all his Emmy's and Oscars. He won one Emmy for Rockford and he never won an Oscar. He deserved many more.
I am not going to recount James Garner's career here. There are plenty of articles and obituaries that have done that.
I have two questions for you - Did you ever see Jim give a bad performance? Would you like to sit down with him for a beer and a conversation? My answers are no, never and hell yes. Enough said.
At times even 86 years old is too young for some to die. Thank you for all the joy you brought to us Mr. Garner. You will be sorely missed. Have fun with Mr. Newman driving fast cars. Wish I could see that race. RIP.