|Shamelessly pinched from here|
Raise your hand if you've had the theme to the Rockford Files playing in your head all day on the news of James Garner's passing?
I associate Garner, and especially the Rockford Files, with happy family life because for years we'd barely see my dad from Tuesday-Thursday as he "put the paper to bed," but on Friday night he'd be home and we'd have dinner in front of the T.V. to watch Rockford together. If Rockford was on, then Dad was home and all was right with the world. Mom was enjoying her eye candy and Dad was getting a kick out of Rockford's rumpled fight for justice and the juicy-delightful cowardice and betrayal of his erstwhile sidekick, Angel.
I had a crush on Rockford, of course, but I also recall loving the father-son relationship between Rockford and his dad, Rocky -- their crusty, undemonstrative tenderness for each other.
Jim: What's wrong?Did any actor ever play annoyance, chagrin, reluctance or wheedling a favor to such comic effect? Until very late in life the man had the most pliable face in show business.
Rocky: I am THROUGH talking to you! Look at you, an inch or two to the right and you'd be missing that eye!
Jim: Yeah, but look at it this way, an inch or two to the left and he'd have missed me completely.
I don't actually know much about him beyond his being a self-proclaimed "bleeding heart liberal" and having a long-lasting marriage, which is always impressive in Hollywood. I thought about reading his memoir when it was released, but was afraid it would cool my affection for him.
This appreciation from law professor Randy Barnett gives me courage to attempt it though. If you're a Maverick or Rockford fan, click over and read it. It's lovely and it captures what was great about Garner's work. (It's also nice because Garner's daughter read the piece to him while he was still alive and it pleased him: the internet is good for something! Read about that there too.)
Here's the Variety review of his career.
Update: List of Rockford's answering machine gags