|One of Hollywood's most popular actors, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winner James 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 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.
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 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.
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. One of Garner's most touching performances to date came in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation, Breathing Lessons, 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 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 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, 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.
A gifted and ardent golfer, Garner lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lois. They have two daughters, Kim and Gigi.