R.I.P James Garner: The First Man I Knew Who Had An Answering Machine


The Man From The Hornet writes…

Sad to learn that the great movie actor James Garner has passed away. He was 86.

As a journalist writing about men’s style issues here at The Hornet, I often find cause to reference Mr Garner’s finest hour: The Great Escape. By way of example, here’s a note on Mr Garner’s rather splendid white pullover in that movie.

The lethal hooch scene – in which only the Yanks and the Scots are tough enough to drink the stuff! – remains a favourite movie moment:

The often maligned Grand Prix (1966) is another of my great Garner favourites. Like so many cinema “flops” it went on to have a cult afterlife with TV and video audiences. Outstanding costumes supervised by Sydney Guilaroff, whose other work includes North by Northwest, The Graduate and Singing in the Rain – all impeccably dressed movies.


Here’s the trailer…

I first came across Garner when he played Jim Rockford in TV’s The Rockford Files back in the 70s. His down-at-heel private eye was a departure for the time: a world-weary ex-con who lives in a trailer with his old dad. As close to kitchen sink drama as mainstream US TV ever dared. Action packed and, of course with that great actor’s comic timing, very funny. The only touch of “glamour” – for me watching here in the deeply unglamorous UK of the 1970s – was found in the opening credits: Jim Rockford had an answering machine to take his phone calls. An astonishing exoticism when many homes here were still without a telephone.


It’s early Sunday morning here as I blog and my first thought was: what rotten news for a Sunday morning.

But it was only the work of a moment to remember my favourite moments from his long career. And tonight The Great Escape is going in the DVD player. Any excuse.

RIP Mr Garner, and thanks for the memories.







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