James Garner, Actor in Maverick and The Rockford Files, Dies at 86

Handsome, sharp leading actor James Garner, who was best known for his roles in the 1950s western Maverick and as private investigator Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files, passed away in his California home on Saturday night, the LAPD confirms.

Garner was remembered and lauded for his role as Jim Rockford on the 1970s crime show The Rockford Files, in which he was "perpetually wandering into threatening situations in which he ended up pursued by criminal goons or corrupt cops," the New York Times reports. Garner was a witty lead with an imposing athletic presence.

Via the New York Times:

In his 2011 autobiography, "The Garner Files," written with Jon Vinokur, Mr. Garner confessed to having a live-and-let-live attitude with the caveat that when he was pushed, he shoved back. What distinguished his performance as Rockford was how well that more-put-upon-than-macho persona came across. Rockford's reactions — startled, nonplussed and annoyed being his specialties — appeared native to him.

His naturalness led John J. O'Connor, writing in The New York Times, to liken Mr. Garner to Gary Cooper and James Stewart. And like those two actors, Mr. Garner usually got the girl.

According the Times' obit, Garner smoked all of his life, even after having open-heart surgery in 1988. Garner appeared in over fifty films over the course of his career.

The Associated Press reports that the actor died of natural causes; he was 86.

[Image via AP]