Film, TV legend James Garner, reluctant hero, dies
NEW YORK (AP) — Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety.
James Garner had a way of widening his eyes while the corner of his mouth sagged ever so slightly. Maybe he would swallow once to further make his point.
This portrait of fleeting disquiet could be understood, and identified with, by every member of the audience. Never mind Garner was tall, brawny and, well, movie-star handsome. The persona he perfected was never less than manly, good with his dukes and charming to the ladies, but his heroics were kept human-scale thanks to his gift for the comic turn. He remained one of the people.
FILE - Actor James Garner, left, smiles as he holds up the Purple Heart medal presented to him in a ceremony in this Monday, Jan. 24, 1983 file photo taken Los Angeles, Calif. Garner was wounded in April 1951 while with U.S. Forces in Korea, but his medal was never presented to him. Actor James Garner, wisecracking star of TV's "Maverick" who went on to a long career on both small and big screen, died Saturday July 19, 2014 according to Los angeles police. He was 86. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)
He burst on the scene with this disarming style in the 1950s TV Western "Maverick," which led to a stellar career in TV and films such as "The Rockford Files" and his Oscar-nominated "Murphy's Romance."
The 86-year-old Garner, who was found dead of natural causes at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, was adept at drama and action. But he was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially on his hit TV series, "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files."
FILE - From Left: James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and Clint Eastwood pose for Warner Brothers Pictures' "Space Cowboys" in this July 2000 file photo. Actor James Garner, wisecracking star of TV's "Maverick" who went on to a long career on both small and big screen, died Saturday July 19, 2014 according to Los angeles police. He was 86. (AP Photo/ Warner Brothers, File)
His quick-witted avoidance of conflict offered a refreshing new take on the American hero, contrasting with the blunt toughness of John Wayne and the laconic trigger-happiness of Clint Eastwood.