HomeEntertainment‘The Rockford Files’ Star James Garner Named What ‘Might’ve’ Been the Only Time He Cried on Screen

‘The Rockford Files’ Star James Garner Named What ‘Might’ve’ Been the Only Time He Cried on Screen

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

James Garner had quite a wide-ranging career, but “The Rockford Files” star could only point out one specific time where he cried on screen.

Garner, before finding success on television as private eye Jim Rockford on the NBC series and Bret Maverick on ABC’s “Maverick,” also had brushes with greatness in movies.

For instance, he played the fiance’ of Audrey Hepburn in “The Children’s Hour” in 1962. It was a film adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play. Garner, when asked by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne about the movie in 2001, said, “First time I ever cried on screen. Might’ve been the last time.”

Romantic Comedies Let Garner Work With Some Top Leading Ladies

His stalwart acting style pretty much was a Garner staple. Now Garner, who was born in Oklahoma, did his fair share of romantic comedies with some of film’s greatest leading ladies.

For instance, he played opposite Doris Day in “The Thrill of It All” and “Move Over, Darling.” Garner had screen time with Kim Novak in “Boys’ Night Out.”

Other films of note on the Garner record include “Cash McCall” with Natalie Wood and “The Wheeler Dealers” with Lee Remick. These movies didn’t call on him to cry on cue or anything of that note. But Garner was able to show emotion and empathy when the role asked for that from him.

In 1964, Garner and Julie Andrews starred in “The Americanization of Emily” where he played a naval officer who’s known for living a good life in wartime that gets challenged. Two challenges come his way: a woman (Andrews) and going on a rather dangerous mission.

‘The Rockford Files’ Star Almost Ran For Political Office

Speaking of danger, sometimes politics can be a rather swampy place to go. Yet it was no secret that James Garner was a Democrat and supported the party’s platform. As a resident of California, some of that state’s Democratic Party leadership asked “The Rockford Files” star to run for governor.

California state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal asked Garner to run for governor, fearing other nominees would be defeated, according to The Associated Press in 1989.

Garner, though, said no thanks.

“He said, ‘I’m making $6 million a year, what do I need that for?’ or words to the effect,” Rosenthal said.

Garner publicist Pat Kingsley said the actor felt politics was the wrong field for him.

If that was the case, then Garner would not have been such an outspoken member of the party. He also was heavily involved in environmental and civil rights issues. Garner was among a number of high-profile celebrities attending the “March on Washington” in 1963 with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.