If I were to pick a guy to look into how and where Casey Kasem's body disappeared, I believe I would have picked Jim Rockford. Alas, Jim is busy with other matters of a more metaphysical nature currently, having just passed on himself. James Garner rang down the curtain this past weekend at the age of eighty-six. A good solid lifetime, but still not nearly enough for some of us who grew up with his assured demeanor and wizened smirk. If all Mister Garner had ever done was to help get one of the coolest TV theme songs on the air, that would have been sufficient.
For me, James Garner was an action star who acted like he had stumbled into the job after he had been turned away from romantic comedies. Which is about right. Of course, he got his start on the back of a horse, that's what his Oklahoma home gave him. I didn't discover Bret Maverick for some time, but it was the double feature of "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "Support Your Local Gunfighter" that first captured my attention. This was a guy who defined "easy-going" for me. Staring down a bunch of desperadoes was simple enough when you appeared so unimpressed with them. Jim just waited around for one of them to do something dumb, and if he's the sheriff, he just walks them over to the jail. A jail without bars, I should hasten to add. It looked so easy.
Watching him with Doris Day took a little more patience. His job here was to be confounded by the zaniness that being involved with Doris Day entails. I was much happier to have James Garner roll his eyes and look impatient with the goings-on. Many years later, that's what he got to do in "Murphy's Romance." A leading man at fifty-seven, not that he made a big deal about it. Not a lot of guys got to woo both Doris Day and Sally Field. Not Burt Reynolds.
Mostly I recall how relaxed James Garner always seemed. Nowhere was this more evident than the commercials he did with Mariette Hartley for Polaroid. They were acting, but a whole lot of people believed these two were married in real life. It was just that natural. And that's what I'll miss the most about James Garner. Naturally relaxed easy-going movie star. Nice work, if you can get it. Aloha, James. You stomped on the Terra.