James Garner Dead At 86

Actor James Garner was found dead of natural causes at his home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles Saturday evening, Los Angeles police officer Alonzo Iniquez said early Sunday. He was 86.

Police responded to a call around 8 p.m. PT and confirmed Garner's identity from family members, Iniquez told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate word on a more specific cause of death. Garner had suffered a stroke in May 2008, just weeks after his 80th birthday.

Although he was adept at drama and action, Garner was best known for his low-key, wisecracking style, especially with his hit TV series, Maverick and The Rockford Files.

When he received the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, "I'm not at all sure how I got here."

But in his 2011 memoir, "The Garner Files," he provided some amusing and enlightening clues, including his penchant for bluntly expressed opinions and a practice for decking people who said something nasty to his face — including an obnoxious fan and an abusive stepmother. They all deserved it, Garner declared in his book.

His first film after Maverick established him as a movie actor. It was The Children's Hour, William Wyler's remake of Lillian Hellman's lesbian drama that co-starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

He followed in a successful comedy with Kim Novak, Boys Night Out, and then fully established his box-office appeal with the 1963 blockbuster war drama The Great Escape and two smash comedies with Doris Day — The Thrill of It All and Move Over Darling.

He played a supporting role as a marshal in the 1994 Maverick, a big-screen return to the TV series with Mel Gibson in Garner's old title role. His only Oscar nomination came for the 1985 Murphy's Romance, a comedy about a small-town love relationship in which he co-starred with Sally Field.

His favorite film, though, was the cynical 1964 war drama The Americanization of Emily, which co-starred Julie Andrews.

Garner made repeated returns to television. Nichols (1971-72) and Bret Maverick (1981-82) were short-lived, but The Rockford Files (1974-80) proved a solid hit, bringing him an Emmy.

"I was never enamored of the business, never even wanted to be an actor, really," he told The New York Times in 1984. "It's always been a means to an end, which is to make a living."

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