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James Garner, Rockford Files star, dies aged 86

20 July 2014

James Garner, the US star of hit TV series The Rockford Files and Maverick, and films including The Great Escape has died of natural causes, aged 86.

Garner had suffered ill health since a severe stroke in 2008.

Garner’s greatest successes were in the 70s and 80s as laconic private investigator Jim Rockford and also the poker-playing Bret Maverick in the Western comedy.

The actor was also Oscar-nominated for best actor in 1986 for the romantic comedy Murphy’s Romance, playing a small-town pharmacist. He also starred alongside Doris Day in Move over Darling (1963).

He won an Emmy in 1977 for The Rockford Files and was given a Screen Actor’s Guild lifetime achievement award in 2005.

In the iconic World War Two film The Great Escape (1963) Garner played Flight Lieutenant Robert Hendley, an American in the RAF, alongside Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasence.

The film depicted the daring escape by prisoners of war from the German Stalag Luft III camp through a 336ft long tunnel. Only three reached safety and of the 73 recaptured, 50 were shot. Hendley’s role in the film was as the “scrounger” who managed to get hold of identity cards, clothes and a camera.

Garner was also nominated for nine Golden Globes for shows including The Rockford Files in 1980 and Maverick in 1982, having won in 1958 for Most Promising Newcomer. He also won a further two for TV series Decoration Day (1991) and Barbarians at the Gate (1994).