Actors have to take on jobs in order to make ends meet. “Maverick” star James Garner held different ones before finding show business.
Garner, who played Bret Maverick on the ABC hit western, received two Purple Hearts while serving in the U.S. Military during the Korean War. Once his time was up, Garner returned to the United States.
It took the Oklahoma native some time to find his place, though.
‘Maverick’ Star Says He Didn’t Find Job He Liked Until Acting
Garner, in a 2001 interview with Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, said, “I worked the oil fields, I drove trucks, I worked in grocery stores, chicken hatcheries, worked with the telephone company, did a little bit of everything and never found a job I really liked until I finally got into acting.
“And it took me about two-and-a-half, three years before I liked that,” Garner said.
Yet he found himself on “Maverick,” a hit TV series at a time when westerns were the craze of the small screen. Garner played Bret Maverick for three seasons before leaving over a dispute with Warner Bros. Obviously, Garner would end up in another successful TV series when he played private detective Jim Rockford in NBC’s “The Rockford Files.”
A side-note of trivia about “Maverick.” It was scheduled by ABC on Sunday nights against two very popular shows, CBS’s “The Ed Sullivan Show” and NBC’s “The Steve Allen Show.” In its first two seasons, “Maverick” beat both of those shows in the ratings.
Garner Served In U.S. Military During Korean War
James Garner, whose real name was James Bumgarner, found himself in the California National Guard for seven months. He served in the 5th Regimental Combat Team and the 24th Infantry Division during the Korean War.
The actor was once asked if he had fond memories of his military service.
“Do I have fond memories? I guess if you get together with some buddies it’s fond,” Garner, who died in 2014, once told a reporter about the Korean War. “But it really wasn’t. It was cold and hard. I was one of the lucky ones.”
He was injured twice and eligible for two Purple Hearts. Garner just received one while serving for shrapnel wounds to his hand and face. He received his second Purple Heart decades later after he mentioned how he was injured in the war during a TV interview about one of his movies.
“As a matter of fact, I got it in the backside,” Garner said. “I went into a foxhole head first and I was a little late. There’s a lot of room for error with a wound in the rear. It’s a wide target.”
Garner provided hours of entertainment on both the movie and TV screen. His work is fondly remembered and his service for his country is honored.