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James Garner      

Film and TV Actor; Known for "The Rockford Files" and "The Notebook"

James Garner rose to fame as the star of the Western TV series "Maverick." He went on to star in hit films such as "The Great Escape," "Grand Prix" and the Oscar-winning "Victor Victoria." He earned an Oscar nomination for "Murphy’s Romance" and a Golden Globe Award for "Decoration Day."

In 1950, Garner became the first Oklahoman drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. Two battlefield injuries and Purple Hearts later, Garner returned to the United States. Although he never finished high school, he did earn his GED.

Finally, Garner stumbled into acting. Approached by a talent agent friend and lured by the prospect of a new job, Garner took a small role as a judge in a Broadway production of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial." Although Garner spent most of his time in the background, his participation gave him ample time to learn from the show's legendary lead actor: Henry Fonda. Thanks to that role, Warner Bros. offered him a film contract in 1956.

Unlike many future stars, Garner always viewed acting as a way to make a living, instead of as a dream fulfilled. The actor landed several supporting roles in films, including "Sayonara," starring Marlon Brando. Garner's acting career really picked up when he was awarded the lead role in a Western television series called "Maverick," in which he played the title character, Bret Maverick, from 1957-60.

Garner appeared in such feature films as "The Great Escape," "The Americanization of Emily" and "Grand Prix." It was only when he returned to television, though, that his career reached another high point. Garner attained small-screen fame once again as Jim Rockford, a private detective, in the series "The Rockford Files."

In the 1980s, Garner returned to the big screen. He appeared alongside Julie Andrews in the Oscar-winning "Victor Victoria" and was nominated for an Oscar himself for "Murphy's Romance." In 1990, Garner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite this success, the decade also presented major challenges: Garner underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery around the same time.

James Garner continued his acting career well into the 2000s, signing for a major role on the ABC sitcom "8 Simple Rules." Garner took a supporting role in the film "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and played a husband whose wife is sick with Alzheimer's in 2004's "The Notebook." That same year, Garner was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Best Supporting Actor Award, and awarded the SAG Life Achievement Award.

Despite suffering a stroke in 2008, James Garner has remained relatively healthy and remains one of the most liked and best-respected actors in the history of television.

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