Tales From A Hungry Life

April 2, 2014

My Fan Letter to James Garner

by Maria Schulz

The other night, as we clicked through 500 channels of absolutely nothing worth watching on television, my husband stopped his channel surfing on a station running The Rockford Files. There was Jimbo, getting punched in the head and then running away from the bad guys.

Greatest. Show. Ever.

Greatest. Show. Ever.

“Hey,” my husband said. “Did you ever write James Garner a fan letter?” Um…no. Why would I do that? Sending fan mail always seemed to me to cross some invisible line that changed you from a harmless devotee to a scary stalker. You might say that mentioning him all the time on my blog is a kind of fan letter, and you’d probably be right. However, James Garner hasn’t left any thoughts in the comments section, so no harm, no foul. But let me tell you…it isn’t easy being a James Garner kind of girl in an Andy Gibb kind of world.

Way, way back in the day, James Garner was an icon to me. I would devote entire summers to catching his old movies on late night television, after scouring the TV Guide at my grandmother’s apartment. He was my hero in The Great Escape, Darby’s Rangers and The Americanization of Emily. He made me laugh in Support Your Local Sheriff, Support Your Local Gunfighter, and Victor/Victoria. He made my Friday nights extra special as I watched The Rockford Files alongside my parents and brothers (read all about that in my post, James Garner and Fruit Pie: Perfect Together).

He likes to read too!

He likes to read too!

As a kid, I didn’t tell everyone I knew about my James Garner fangirl status. Why, you ask? Well, if you wanted to hang out with kids your own age, you couldn’t exactly show off your James Garner lunch box, point out your James Garner pin-up posters, or hug your Jim Rockford notebooks to your heart as you defended him against all challengers to his throne as “the most handsome heartthrob on television.”

Of course, I didn’t have to work hard to convince my mother, grandmothers, or aunts about the merits of James Garner. I knew that they would understand. My mother admired Clark Gabel; my Italian grandmother adored Dean Martin. My Puerto Rican grandmother didn’t state an explicit favorite (at least, not in English), but she never made me turn the channel when James Garner and Mariette Hartley were doing their Polaroid commercials. In fact, she used to laugh really loud and circle The Rockford Files in the TV Guide. That was encouragement enough for me.

The girls my age loved David Cassidy, Davey Jones, Andy Gibb, Bobby Sherman, Sean Cassidy, Vince Van Patten and Mick Jagger (you can read more about them in my post, Pin Up Material). At anytime, you could go to their houses and see their favorite stars’ sultry, pouty mugs peering back at you from their bedroom walls. Meanwhile, being the oddball I was, I had a TV Guide cover of Jim Rockford and Brett Maverick on my wall and newspaper clippings about James Garner in my scrapbook.



What was so great about him anyway? Well, of course there were his looks. He was tall, dark and handsome, and in his own way, very wise. Jim Rockford was my hero because instead of seeking out trouble, he liked to run away from it. Self-preservation was his ultimate mission, and I respected that. He seemed to portray someone who just wanted to get in his day’s work and then go fishing. I respected that too.

I want to meet Jim and Rocky

I want to meet Jim and Rocky

But of course, there was more to it than that. No matter what character J.G. portrayed, there was a genuine, gentle quality shining through. He seemed honest, brave, and loyal; plus he also seemed to have a great sense of humor, which I always thought was more important than the best looks. Although, let’s face it: a little eye candy never hurts. Those were the qualities that he helped me recognize as important, even when I was just a kid and I used to tell my father, “I’m never getting married!” When it was time to find someone with looks, brains, character, and a great sense of humor, I recognized the right one—my husband—thanks to years of admiring someone who embodied all of those traits.

Recently, I read a blog post called “I Kissed James Garner In an Elevator”. http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2007/04/i_kissed_james_/

Remarkably, I did NOT write this post. I really did get a kick out of it though. It made me smile to think there was someone else out there with a crush on Jimbo. It also made me a little bit mad, since it never occurred to me to hang out by any elevators looking for him…and since I like to think of him as “mine” alone.

On April 7, James Garner will celebrate his 86th birthday, but for me, he’s always about 42 years old, charging $200 a day (plus expenses) for his private detective services, and riding away from the bad guys in his gold Pontiac Firebird. I just want to say: Happy Birthday, Mr. Garner! Thanks for helping me understand the qualities that really matter in a person, and thanks for all the years of entertainment and joy that you brought into my life. I think I’ll celebrate by watching The Great EscapeMurphy’s Romance and The Notebook. Later, I’ll re-read The Garner Files.

And he writes too

And he writes too

James Garner, consider this your birthday fan letter…and by the way, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Recipe: Classic Fish & Chips




Jimmy boy and Rocky loved to go fishing. So here’s a dish that honors them both.

Classic Burger Recipes


Because, like these recipes, James Garner is as all-American as you can get.

So, Hungry Lifers: who would you send a fan letter to? Did you ever kiss James Garner in an elevator? What’s your favorite J.G. movie/TV show/Polaroid commercial? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. Another reason why we’re friends…love, love, love James Garner.

    Comment by doreenmoran — April 2, 2014 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  2. I’m sure you know that James Garner was a model and stuntman before he became a star. He used to do all his own stunts which in later life betrayed him by arthritic pains crippling him. He also was an astute business man as he won his lawsuit for residuals and paved the way for future stars to get what they truly earned. But for me I fell in love with Barbara Stanwyck when I was around 7 and she starred next to Gary Cooper in “Ball of Fire” playing a stripper on the run. A few years later I left her for Lana Turner in a movie that I forget the name of but I think had Clark Gable as co-star, there was a scene in which he visited her right after she gave birth in a far western town. I have never seen any woman looking that great after giving birth (except of course your mother) and I was smitten for many years after that. As for male heroes for me there was always Humphrey Bogart, my favorite Sam Spade although Howard Duff played Spade on the radio.

    Comment by Bglou — April 2, 2014 @ 10:16 am | Reply

    • Barbara Stanwyck is a very worthy choice. She even looked great as a much older woman in The Thorn Birds (one of my favorite miniseries ever).

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 6, 2014 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  3. Maria I was one of those girls who liked all those teenage idols but I LOVED Robert Redford. I always knew as a kid he was out of my league. I never thought that one day he would appear at my door(like john travolta) and I wouldn’t write him a letter because I was too shy. I loved him in a Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. It was the first time I ever heard an adult curse. At the end of the movie he jumps off a cliff with Paul Newman and yells, the S word. I remember my mother looking at me and shaking her head all annoyed that I heard it. James Garner is good looking, I have to agree.

    Comment by Suzanne — April 3, 2014 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

    • Robert Redford is an excellent choice. Honestly, Suzanne, wouldn’t you have preferred opening your door up to find him on the doorstep than, say, Andy Gibb? Although out of the two stars in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, I think I preferred Paul Newman. I hear he makes a great sauce. 🙂

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 6, 2014 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

      • Paul Newman USED to make a great sauce, Maria. He’s been dead for quite a little bit now! I can’t say that I ever wanted to write to a star, but at the time of your admiration of Mr. Garner, I, as a youngster wishing that one day I could be up on the big screen, did think that I would write a letter of admiration to Al Pacino, after I had snuck in to see “Dog Day Afternoon.” I would’ve asked him how do I get into this line of business, I think you’re an amazing actor, etc etc. Now for any FEMALE stars that I wanted to write to at the time, there were a-plenty! But, as Tony stated, why write to someone…especially a woman movie star…. who could give a rat’s arse as to what some adolescent boy is thinking. My fav’s were Farrah Fawcett (who WASN’T into her??), Susan Blakely (just loved her in Rich Man/Poor Man), or any of the other “Angels” for that matter. I did know not to get TOO into Kate Jackson. She was TONY’S, hands off!

        Comment by Paul — April 26, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

      • Paul Newman may be dead, but his sauce lives on!

        Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 27, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

  4. I never had a star I wanted to write to. I too feel that this was a weird kind of way to be close to someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass thought about you. I do know how you felt though, because when I watched Charlie’s Angels I knew these girls were mine (at least for the hour they were on). Over the years I have seen those episodes and think what were they doing? How could I watch such corny stuff? Then I remember I wasn’t watching the show for the plot.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — April 3, 2014 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

    • I have to tell you, when I watched The Rockford Files last week, I thought I would be bored or find it too dated. But nope! I enjoyed every minute. You’re right though; Charlie’s Angels wasn’t exactly the standard bearer for intelligent TV. It was fun though!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 6, 2014 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  5. […] My Fan Letter to James Garner […]

    Pingback by Let’s Eat, Part V | Tales From A Hungry Life — April 9, 2014 @ 7:02 am | Reply

  6. Wow, just saw this. I thought I was the only one….

    Comment by Jane — June 24, 2014 @ 12:59 am | Reply

  7. […] 331 people (so far) have viewed my blog posts, James Garner and Fruit Pie: Perfect Together and My Fan Letter to James Garner in just the past […]

    Pingback by Thank You, James Garner | Tales From A Hungry Life — July 20, 2014 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  8. I have loved Jim Garner for years. Murphy’s Romance is my favorite movie. Jim makes my dream of the perfect husband possible. His marriage proves it. He will forever be in our hearts. Rip Jim.

    Comment by Teri — July 20, 2014 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  9. […] for a few short days, some of my posts had an international audience. Thank You, James Garner, My Fan Letter to James Garner, James Garner and Fruit Pie, Perfect Together, and Pin Up Material got several thousand hits. That […]

    Pingback by End of an Era | Tales From A Hungry Life — July 29, 2014 @ 6:57 am | Reply

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