Stuart Margolin Dies: ‘The Rockford Files’ Two-Time Emmy Winner Was 82

Stuart Margolin, who won back-to-back Emmys for his recurring role as Evelyn “Angel” Martin in The Rockford Files and racked up more than 120 career screen credits, died today, his stepson Max Martini said on social media. He was 82.

In an Instagram post (see it below), Bosch: Legacy regular Martini wrote: “A profoundly gifted step-father that was always there with love and support for his family. RIP Pappy. Keep ‘em cold.” He did not provide a cause of death or other details.

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Margolin won Emmys in 1979 and 1980 for the respective fifth and sixth seasons of NBC’s The Rockford Files, playing the former cellmate of Jim Rockford (James Garner). Appeared in more than three dozen episodes, including the series’ first and last, his shady-but-endearing character constantly sought Rockford’s help after getting mixed up with former criminal associates.

James Garner and Stuart Margolin in ‘The Rockford Files’
James Garner and Stuart Margolin in ‘The Rockford Files’

The Rockford Files was an initial hit, ranking No. 14 among primetime shows in a three-network universe during its initial 1974-75 season and spurring a Top 10 single with its Mike Post’s instrumental theme song. But it became more of a cult series after that, failing to make the full-season Top 30 again as it bounced around NBC’s schedule but winning the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in 1978. It also was nominated in the category for its last two seasons.

Margolin reprised his Angel role in eight Rockford Files TV movies during the 1990s, a tribute to the show’s enduring popularity.

But it was hardly Margolin’s only credit.

Margolin appeared opposite Garner in series before and after The Rockford Files. He was a regular on the short-lived Western Nichols, playing the town bully to Garner’s violence-hating, get-rich-quick-minded titles character. The show last one season on NBC in 1971-72.

They would reteam for another NBC Western after Rockford ended. Bret Maverick was based on Maverick, the 1957-62 series starring Garner — who left in 1960 — as a wisecracking, dapper ladies man and cardsharp. Margolin co-starred as Philo Sandine, an Indian scout-slash-con man that wasn’t too far removed from his Angel character. The series lasted one season in 1981-82 and aired in reruns on NBC in 1990.

Margolin began his career in the early 1960s, doing guest shots on such popular series as The Fugitive, Ben Casey and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Margolin continued to appear on TV throughout that decade in memorable and enduring shows including Ironside, The Virginian, The Monkees, Bewitched, The F.B.I. and The Partridge Family. He also became a familiar face on the randy anthology comedy Love, American Style, appearing in more than two dozen episodes from 1966-73.

Margolin landed another 1980s series-regular role in the NBC sitcom Mr. Smith, playing the boss of a character who was charged with keeping track of the title character — a talking orangutan who is America’s latest secret weapon. The high-concept but low-rated show lasted a handful of episodes in fall 1983.

After that, Margolin settled into mostly character-actor mode, guesting on such series as Hill Street Blues, Crazy Like a Fox and The Tracey Ullman Show. He did land one more regular role, on the Canadian dramedy Mom, P.I., playing a cynical private investigator who hires a widowed waitress (Rosemary Dunsmore) as an assistant. It aired two seasons from 1990-92.

Margolin continued to work in TV for the next three decades, with guest credits on popular shows including Touched by an Angel, 30 Rock and NCIS, along with a recurring role on Beggars and Choosers.

He would get one last series-regular gig with Stone Undercover (aka Tom Stone), a syndicated cop drama that aired 26 episodes on CBC in Canada from 2001-02. Margolin played Jack Welsh, an old friend of the title star (Chris William Martin), who was — of course — something of a con man and helped the undercover Stone trap crooked businessmen.

Margolin also did some film work, mostly during the 2000s and 2010s. Among his final credits was a role in 2018 the revived Fox sci-fi drama The X Files.

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