The Garner Files: A Memoir

( 37 )

Overview

HIS INCREDIBLE STORY, IN HIS OWN WORDS

One of Hollywood’s all-time great leading men, James Garner enjoyed a remarkable career spanning six decades, and whether you know him as Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford, his appeal bridges generations. Few know the real story, now told in this intimate memoir of growing up in Depression-era Oklahoma and triumphing in Hollywood.

After physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, Garner left home at ...

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Overview

HIS INCREDIBLE STORY, IN HIS OWN WORDS

One of Hollywood’s all-time great leading men, James Garner enjoyed a remarkable career spanning six decades, and whether you know him as Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford, his appeal bridges generations. Few know the real story, now told in this intimate memoir of growing up in Depression-era Oklahoma and triumphing in Hollywood.

After physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, Garner left home at fourteen. He was Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean War, receiving two Purple Hearts for combat wounds. Back in Los Angeles in need of a job, Garner reluctantly tried acting and was surprised to find his career taking off. Working with such luminaries as Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood, he became a star in his own right. He threw himself into his work, and despite stage fright and bouts of depression, constant physical pain and epic battles with the Hollywood establishment, he became the acting equivalent of a national monument.

Written with Jon Winokur, The Garner Files is a wry, engaging self-portrait chronicling the vagaries of a screen career along with the cast of personal and professional characters that helped shape a great American life.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In his early years, James Garner did not seem destined for screen stardom: For one thing, his birth name (James Scott Bumgarner) seems almost singularly uncinematic; for another, relentless physical abuse by his stepmother left him with intense self-doubt and depression. His career in the Merchant Marines ended with bouts of seasickness, but he redeemed himself with a Korean War stint in the Army that earned him two Purple Hearts. The Garner Files covers all these bracing events, but it also treats us to entertaining stories about his experiences on Maverick and The Rockford Files and his lively interplay with actors including Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood, Audrey Hepburn, Steve McQueen, and Julie Andrews. A memorable autobiography of an unforgettable actor; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

From the Publisher
“Garner tells his life story with the same wry, self-effacing charm that characterized his classic TV characters: the laidback cowboy Bret Maverick and the down-on-his-heels gumshoe Jim Rockford…Garner comes across as likable on the page as he does on screen.”

Kirkus Reviews

“…the narrative is genuine, candid, and more informative than usual for a Hollywood bio…Truly a cut above most actor bios, this is prime stuff for film and television collections.”

Booklist

“Laid-back charm and a sense of humor fuel such memories, two qualities shared by the characters Garner often played in a career of 50-plus years…Full of funny stories and observations, The Garner Files offers the kind of clubhouse banter you might expect from a hardworking, successful guy who doesn't take himself too seriously — and doesn't want you to, either.”

Associated Press

“James Garner stepped into two of TV's most calcified genres — the western and the detective series — and set a new standard that others have been chasing down since…having made up his mind to write [a memoir]…Garner follows his own heroic dictum: Plenty of self-deprecating, humor, a general air of live-and-let-live, but when it comes down to it, no pulled punches. For Garner fans, The Garner Files is catnip…[Garner] is unfailingly candid about his own desires…it is a fine, frank and fun collection.”

Los Angeles Times

“Stand aside for Maverick! Stand aside again for Jim Rockford!...Let this neatly written and well-supplemented little book—all of [Garner’s] friends provide relevant stories and fond judgments—set a new standard of integrity for the genre…You could hand this book as a primer on ethics to any young man just reaching the age of choosing his way in life.”

—Clive James, The Atlantic

“[an] enjoyable memoir…there's plenty to love in this book. Garner…has a knack for telling a story and finding the perfect quote to tie it all together…charming…[It] resembles a conversation with an old friend who loves to tell colorful stories.”

PublishersWeekly.com

“James Garner's memoir is as easygoing and plain-spoken as his acting persona…[He] wouldn’t have it any other way.”

USAToday.com

The Garner Files is a classic tale of making it in Hollywood fueled…with Garner’s good looks, fortune, charm, and sense of humor.”

ChristianScienceMonitor.com

“If you buy one cranky celebrity memoir this fall, might we suggest James Garner's The Garner Files?”

TheAtlanticWire.com

“Garner follows his own heroic dictum: Plenty of self-deprecating, humor, a general air of live-and-let-live, but when it comes down to it, no pulled punches. For Garner fans, ‘The Garner Files’ is catnip…it is a fine, frank and fun collection.”

—LOS ANGELES TIMES

Kirkus Reviews
With Winokur (The Big Book of Irony, 2007, etc.) Garner tells his life story with the same wry, self-effacing charm that characterized his classic TV characters: the laidback cowboy Bret Maverick and the down-on-his-heels gumshoe Jim Rockford. Raised in Depression-era Oklahoma by an alcoholic father and abusive stepmother, Garner escaped to Hollywood, got his own hit show (Maverick) before he was 30 and made movies. He has stayed married to the same woman for over 50 years. Fate has, for the most part, been kind: "The only reason I'm an actor is that a lady pulled out of a parking space in front of a producer's office." Along the way, he also spent a hellish season in the Korean War and received two Purple Hearts in Korea--though he claims that he "didn't save anybody but myself." Garner praises mentors such as Henry Fonda and Marlon Brando and offers testier assessments of his late neighbor and competitor Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson ("a bitter, belligerent SOB") and Charlton Heston ("stiff as a board"). He gives great inside dope on the technical demands of making of his racing hit Grand Prix (1966), the sheer physical toll action roles can take on the body and the equally brutal business end of Hollywood, where Garner has survived two legendary you'll-never-work-in-this-town-again run-ins with the studios ("It was like being in business with the Mafia, only Universal didn't need a gun, just a pencil"). The author is also full of contradictions. He doesn't believe in glorifying the military but supports a memorial for Korean War veterans, calls himself a coward but continually points out that he never backs down from a fight and claims not to take acting too seriously ("I have to laugh when I hear actors talking about their art") but clearly knows the craft and respects it. Although he can go on too much about how unaffected and genuine he is, Garner comes across as likable on the page as he does on screen.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451642612
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 106,124
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

James Garner has starred in numerous television shows and films, from Maverick and The Rockford Files to The Great Escape with Steve McQueen and Victor Victoria with Julie Andrews.

Jon Winokur is the author of various nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon, Zen to Go, and Advice to Writers. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Julie Andrews vii

"Dear Reader" ix

Chapter 1 Growing Up Fast 1

Chapter 2 Korea to Broadway 25

Chapter 3 Maverick 41

Chapter 4 Big Screen 69

Chapter 5 Politics 93

Chapter 6 Racing 101

Chapter 7 The Rockford Files 121

Chapter 8 Golf 149

Chapter 9 Act-ing! 169

Chapter 10 Producing 187

Chapter 11 Love Stories 203

Chapter 12 This Is My Life 211

Outtakes 219

Films 253

Television 267

Index 275

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2011

    The Baumgarner Files

    Well, let me see if I can wrte a review on your book. Never done this before. Just want to say how much I have always love you in all your movies. One of my top ten actors of all time. Fun & so entertaining, a natural. All your favorites seem to be my favorites. Love hearing your life story about your family and how you got started. I could identify with you since I was a poor Louisiana girl and went thru some of the abuses that you went thru. Loved your golf stories since I am a golfer and once saw you at The woodlands or Kingwood cc . Wow! Handsome guy. You were having problems with your knees. The problem is that you decided to talk your politics in chapter five......i dont think anybody cares what you think politically in this book. Just wanted to be entertained. You should of left that out of your book even though you have the right to say what you want in another forum. Besides, you don' t seem to be able to step out of the box on issues other than your environment of Hollywood. I love that you are a real family man. Not like so many in LA. Love your loyalty an honesty to people you have learned to trust. I think you get that from your southern background. I am sure you know that a democrat is not the same as it was way back when!! Well, guess I have said way to much. You probably will not even read this. Next time write a book just about politics:)

    8 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    Jim's Voice Loud and Clear

    Reading "The Garner Files" is exactly like sitting down with the subject and spending a wonderful day with him. Jim's voice comes through loud and clear, (On the golf course, sometimes louder) Having spent two years on the set of "The Rockford Files" I came to know Jim Garner. There is not an OUNCE of "Mr. Movie Star" in the man. "Family" is a word closely associated with Jim and that also comes through in this easy reading memoir penned with Jon Winokur (The Portable Curmudgeon) From his tough upbringing in Oklahoma, to his stint in the Korean War (where he won two purple hearts) to Broadway and onto to Hollywood, Jim is a "working actor" with a great respect for writers, his fellow actors (albeit one or two) and his crew. I can attest first hand, what you see is what you get in "The Garner Files." When you see Jim on the screen be it movies or television, you're seeing "Maverick" or "Charlie Madison" or "Rockford" you're really not seeing James Garner. Jim works extremely hard at making it LOOK like you THINK you're seeing James Garner. You can call me biased and that's fine...but I will tell you to your face that you will not meet a more decent person than Jim Garner. He hasn't changed in all the years I've known him and that is the beauty of the man. As I said before, "What you see is what you get." Robert Howe

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2011

    A must for James Garner fans

    You know the acid test on autobiographies. If you like the subject, you will probably like the book. I¿m a James Garner fan. That one gets the sense of Garner¿s voice in this well written, well organized book is a big plus. He just tells it like it is without apology or sugar coating, which is exactly the way I picture him being in his personal life. I¿m an even bigger James Garner fan now. It¿s a good read. If you like Garner, you¿ll learn a lot about him and love this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    Loved this book!

    I admit to being a Garner fan since Maverick, but I think I would have enjoyed this book anyway. It really is like sitting down and having a nice conversation with a person who is friendly and down to earth.

    Some have objected to his mentioning his political views. Huh? This IS an autobiography after all! I don't think he belabored the issue, but it certainly is a legitimate subject in an account of one's life. Strangely, the only ones I've seen complaining are those who disagree with him. Come on, people. Everyone isn't going to agree with you on anything. Everyone has a right to their opinion. It's interesting to note that Garner's life-long best friend, Bill Saxon, who is mentioned a lot in this book, is a Republican.

    On the issue of smoking pot because it helps his arthritis pain, it is LEGAL in California please remember. If it would help my own arthritis, I'd try it too. Probably safer than the prescription pain pills I take now. ;)

    Seriously, read the book. It's funny, poignant and paints a real picture of a man I've admired for 55 years. I admire him even more now.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Enjoyable reading

    My husband and I have enjoyed this book. We thought we would never see Mr. Garner's biography. Both of us enjoyed watching Maverick and Rockford files -- originally and in reruns. We loved Mr. Garner's movies also. Note to the Poor Louisiana girl: when you read a biography you learn about another person. You are free to write your own biography and express your own view of the world.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Check this out

    Learned so much

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    This book was enjoyable, though I agree with some of the other r

    This book was enjoyable, though I agree with some of the other reviewers that some of us are not interested in his political views. I take offense to his attacks on Ronald Reagan saying that he was basically an idiot and had no business running the guild let alone the country. I also don't think golf merited an entire chapter on its own, though maybe he needed a little filler.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Don't wast your time

    This book has such a liberal slant that it gets nauseating tying to continue reading it. I get tired of Hollywood actors spewing their liberal views and anyone who disagrees is labeled as a right wing nut job. If I wanted to get a liberal brainwashing, I would watch network news. I deleted the book from my library.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Very readable

    Great view of what it was like to be an entertainer. Loved stories about great escape, maverick and Rockford. Politics-not my favorite. Also- I would have preferred if the chapter on drugs was left out. I do believe marijuana is still illegal and admitting that not only have you done this for 50 years-buhat that you continue to do it is inappropriate. That being said -I really enjoyed the book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Fan

    I have only read the sample. Will buy complete book this week. It is a great read can't wait to read the whole book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    James Garner has been my favorite actor for as long as I can rem

    James Garner has been my favorite actor for as long as I can remember. My favorite TV series was The Rockford Files and my personal favorites among his movies are Murphy's Romance, (I could watch that one 50 times - smile). The Notebook and The Ultimate Gift. For those who made comments about leaving out the section about Politics, etc. - when you write your autobiography - you should be able to say whatever you want to in it and personally - I happen to "agree" with him so I enjoyed that chapter. I enjoyed "every" chapter! I can so relate to his stage fright and not wanting to speak in front of a live audience. I was a singer for many years and started out performing live and had some record releases, but I was such a nervous wreck before each live performance, it just wasn't worth it to me. I ended up having my own little recording studio in Florida where I did songwriter demos for songwriters around the country on a mail order basis. Like Jim being comfortable with the camera in a movie studio, I was also comfortable with a microphone in a recording studio - but just "hated" being out in front of a live audience, so I can really relate to the way he feels about a lot of things. I'm SO happy he did this book. I enjoyed every page of it!!! Thank you, Jim, for sharing a part of your life with us and if you write any other books, I'll be first in line to buy one! ......also, Happy birthday a few days late...my granddaughter was also born on April 7th and on April 7th of every year, I think of "both" of you. I've just never known where to mail your birthday card! (smile)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Great man and actor!

    As a child growing up watching The Rockford Files...I really enjoyed this book. His deep,sexy voice and mannerisms came through the words of the book just right. Thank you

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    He is good in The Americanization of Emily

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    I'm a fan of Garner's and loved his making of Grand Prix stories

    I'm a fan of Garner's and loved his making of Grand Prix stories, though not as long as I wanted. It's a good book of his life in movies. If you're a fan, I say that you'll be satisfied, but not as deep as I wanted.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2012

    A great read....if you thought you liked JGarner...you will love him after reading his autobiography!

    Growing up in the 50's and 60's I had always admired and had a little crush on JG. Little did I know what a true "man" he was. He obviously has the highest standards and that is so often not a priority for a famous person. I think the book was very well written and became a very fast read for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

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    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good Book!

    This was a good book, interesting life of James Garner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    Still love James Garner but...

    I still love James Garner and ROCKFORD but this book tells you nothing you don't already know : Jim was a nice guy and pretty much like his characters. Reads like a money grab which isn't in character. Not everyone needs to write an biography. For James Garner, maybe everything that needed to be said was... on the movie and t.v. screens.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews

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