‘The Rockford Files’ Starring James Garner First Premiered on This Day in 1974

by Keeli Parkey
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Today (Sept. 13) marks a very special day in the history of Hollywood icon James Garner. It was on this day 47 years ago in 1974 that his popular detective drama, “The Rockford Files,” first premiered on television.

Garner starred as the title character, Jim Rockford. The character is a private investigator who works in Los Angeles, California. He joined the profession after spending time in jail. It turns out, however, that he was wrongly imprisoned. Rockford was eventually pardoned.

According to IMDb, the series aired from 1974 until 1980. During its run, the show aired 119 episodes. Garner appeared in each one.

This detective drama was created by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins. In addition to Garner, the cast also included Noah Beery Jr. played Joseph “Rocky” Rockford. He is the father of Jim Rockford. Joe Santos played Los Angeles Police Department officer Dennis Becker. James Garner’s brother, Jack Garner, also appeared in some episodes of “The Rockford Files.”

“The Rockford Files” wasn’t the only popular television show James Garner starred in during his decades-long Hollywood career. Before this show, he was the star of the hit Western series, “Maverick.”

You can watch the opening credits of “The Rockford Files” starring James Garner below.

Tom Selleck Appeared in Episodes of ‘The Rockford Files’

Interestingly, a famous actor who would also become famous for playing a private investigator also appeared in “The Rockford Files.” This star is Tom Selleck. He famously played private investigator Thomas Magnum in “Magnum, P.I.” during the 1980s.

Selleck played the character of Lance White in two episodes. One of these, “White on White and Nearly Perfect,” aired in 1978. The other, “Nice Guys Finish Dead,” aired in 1979. In “The Rockford Files” star, Selleck found a mentor in James Garner. The “Blue Bloods” star talked about this during a 2014 interview with GQ.

“I worked with Garner at a really critical time. I had done the leads in several pilots, but nobody saw them because they didn’t sell, and I did this thing on ‘Rockford,’ and I watched Garner …” Selleck shared. He also described Garner as a “friend.”

Tom Selleck also said that “The Rockford Files” star set a positive example on set.

“But I had plenty of time to observe, and then, by the time I’m 34, to work with Garner—who I think people, if they could, still take star lessons from. He understood that leads in a show like a television series involved leadership, probably: When you’re not feeling so good, put on a happy face, it’s infectious—these things sound kind of corny and stupid, but this is our life,” Selleck also said.

David Chase, the creator of the iconic HBO series “The Sopranos,” also worked on “The Rockford Files.” Chase was a co-producer and co-writer on the 1970s drama. He paid tribute to the series during one episode of “The Sopranos.” The theme music of “The Rockford Files” plays in the background during a scene that takes place in a retirement home.

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