1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 9 (USA)
125 x 60 minute episodes
“This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message. I’ll get back to you”
Mistrusted by the police, set up by his own clients and continually beaten up in a most un-macho fashion by anyone who could get a shot off, Jim Rockford was the ultimate good guy Private Eye (working for $200 a day + expenses).
Jim lived a less than glamorous life, driving around in his gold Pontiac Firebird and living in a beach-side green and white 50-foot caravan (or ‘trailer’ for our US chums) located at 2354 Pacific Coast Highway in the Paradise Cove Trailer Colony.
Rockford’s compassion for society’s outcasts embroiled him weekly as the underdog in bizarre investigations.
While his good heart often caused him to give up his salary, it did earn him the warm friendship of ex-cellmate Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin) and Lieutenant Dennis Becker (Joe Santos).
Jim’s firm grasp on reality (unlike so many TV private dicks) was apparent in statements such as “I’m not going in there, I could get killed!”. To this end, our fearless hero never carried a gun (he kept his in a biscuit barrel) and in fact, did not even have a permit to carry one.
Despite his aversion to violence, nearly every episode involved him being beaten to a pulp by bad guys or landing in jail, from which he needed to be rescued by attorney girlfriend Beth Davenport.
His other less-than-upright acquaintances included disbarred lawyer John Cooper and tough guy Gandy Fitch (Isaac Hayes).
Rockford’s retired truck driver father ‘Rocky’ constantly badgered his boy to take up a safer line of work.
Unlike most private detectives, Jim did not enjoy a close working relationship with the police department. This was primarily because he was an ex-con. Although he ultimately received a full pardon, Jim had served five years in San Quentin for an armed robbery he didn’t commit.
The police also disliked Rockford because of his ability to solve cases they had already closed. Rockford was certainly a good detective, even if he employed conniving means (he carried a portable press in his car to print fake ID cards) as much as ratiocinative ones.
Each episode of The Rockford Files took six days to film. Two of the days were spent in the studio. The other four were spent shooting on location.
Garner, who had won two Purple Hearts in the Korean War, hated the location filming because it invariably aggravated old back and knee injuries (his knees were so bad that you can see him limping when he runs in the show).
The series debuted on NBC on Friday 13 September 1974.
James Garner passed away on 20 July 2014. He was 86.
“Jim, It’s Norma at the market. . . . It bounced. You want us to tear it up, send it back, or put it with the others? “
Joseph “Rocky” Rockford
Noah Beery Jr.
Det. Dennis Becker
Evelyn “Angel” Martin
Lt. Alex Diehl
Lt. Doug Chapman