Leading man James Garner dies at 86

BY Xander Landen  July 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM EST
James Garner, star of the hit 1950s. western series, "Maverick," died yesterday at 86.

James Garner, star of the hit 1950s. western series, “Maverick,” died yesterday at 86.

Award-winning actor and Hollywood staple, James Garner, famous for his work on both the big and small screen, died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old. 

The actor underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008, but the cause of his death was not immediately know, the Associated Press reported.

Garner’s star turn came in 1954 when he appeared as a quick-witted, gunslinging gambler in the hit TV western series, “Maverick.”

In the 1960’s, he appeared in several films including the war drama “36 Hours” in 1965 and as a private eye in the 1969 neo-noir “Marlowe.”

Garner’s performance in “Marlowe” set the stage for his role as the detective and antihero Jim Rockford in the NBC series, “The Rockford Files” from 1974 to 1980. His performance on the show earned him an Emmy award in 1977.

Garner last appeared on film in “The Notebook” in 2004, playing Duke, an elderly man whose love story frames the narrative of the film. 

Garner’s take on acting was simple: “Be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth.”

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actor’s Guild in 2005.

Although he was highly decorated throughout his career, which spanned more than five decades, Garner said he never sought fame as an actor.

“I got into the business to put a roof over my head,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for star status. I just wanted to keep working.”