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Rockford Files' star James Garner has died

1 of 1 James Garner at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005
James Garner at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005

Veteran actor James Garner, who won two Emmy Awards during a prolific TV career, has died at the age of 86.

The cause of death is not yet known, but apparently an ambulance was called to Garner's Los Angeles home last night (19 July) but he was deceased by the time paramedics arrived.

Though best remembered for the role of private eye Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files, Garner's breakout TV role was gambler Bret Maverick on the 1950s Western Maverick.

He also enjoyed a considerable film career and featured in the classic WWII film The Great Escape (1963), and played Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in Marlowe (1969), as well as starring in western comedies Support Your Local Sheriff! and Support Your Local Gunfighter!

In the 1970s he landed the lead in The Rockford Files, which ran for six seasons and saw Garner win an Emmy for his performance as a private investigator with a smooth tongue and low pain threshold, who lived in a mobile home by the beach in Malibu.

In 2000, after an operation to replace both knees, Garner starred alongside Clint Eastwood as astronauts in the movie Space Cowboys.

Garner suffered ill health for much of his later life and had quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008. He is survived by his wife Lois (they married in 1956), and daughters Gigi and Kim.

"I'm not flashy," Garner told Playboy magazine in 1981, "I do humour; I don’t do comedy. Humour is much more subtle than comedy, and it takes a longer time to understand the characters.

"I'm much more interested in characters than flash, because flash hits quick and leaves quick, but characters go on and on."

Here's a brilliant Youtube tribute to James Garner, The Rockford Files and the show's great theme tune:

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