James Garner, One Of Hollywood’s Most Handsome Leading Men, Dies At 86

10492404_10203195702706681_714985362022477901_nVeteran screen actor James Garner, who starred in beloved comedies such as Victor Victoria and hit TV series like The Rockford Files, has died at age 86 of natural causes. With rugged good looks, thick dark hair, an ease with a wisecrack and a low-key demeanor, Garner, at the beginning of his career, was thought to be a possible heir to the leading man status of Cary Grant and Clark Gable.

He first grabbed national attention with The Maverick, a TV western with a comic edge that ran from 1957-62. Garner starred in a series of films during the 1960s including The Thrill of It All and Move Over, Darling, two popular comedies opposite Doris Day, as well as the WWII epic The Great Escape. In 1962 he costarred with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine in the drama The Children’s Hour, one of the first studio dramas with a lesbian storyline. The actor returned to series television with the long-running detective series The Rockford Files, which showcased his easy-going appeal and won him an Emmy Award.

The role that made him best-known to LGBT audiences (and Queerty readers) was certainly the 1982 hit musical comedy Victor Victoria, in which he played a mobster forced to question his sexual orientation when he falls for a male impersonator played by Julie Andrews. Garner won an Academy Award nomination for the 1985 comedy Murphy’s Romance and had another big hit in the 2004 romantic drama The Notebook. Garner was also a supporter of liberal causes and attending Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963. In his autobiography, he wrote about listening to King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech from the third row.

Scroll down to see why Garner was such an appealing leading man. images james-garner-L-uBMHHk tumblr_ly828c6d4Y1r5yygpo1_500 MV5BMTM1Nzk2NTA3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEzODI0NA@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ james_garner james-garner-drinking james-garner-julie-andrews

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  • samwise343

    Yeah. I don’t care about 90’s TV daddies. This is the daddy I’d want.

  • Stache99

    Loved him as a kid on the Rockford files.

  • ppp111

    I loved him in the movie Maverick with Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. Although I don’t care for Gibson anymore I still like the movie. Rest in peace.

  • northwest

    He was SO gorgeous in his younger years and a cool guy/actor. RIP.

  • Desert Boy

    James Garner is so damned handsome. Even in his older years, he looked great. I love him in ‘Rockford Files.’ RIP, Mr. Garner.

  • Ben Dover

    Very good write-up, & photos.

  • michael mellor

    James Garner was such a hunk! In those days, men were more handsome than they are today. They had the X factor. Today’s leading men have the Zzzzzzzzzz factor.

  • Mezaien

    Sad! but he left us with great movies, and memories! I just wish he were HOMO.

  • vive

    Aging and death are abominations.

  • auntsharon

    @loafersguy: I laughed until my lungs collapsed. You’d think these movies would have become dated, but this is evergreen. Sublime silliness. Garner and Day are also in the great “The Thrill of It All”, with the wonderful Arlene Francis (could I be any more gay?) and a script by Carl Reiner.

  • Wolfwalk

    Not to quibble, but he was nominated for an Oscar for “Murphy’s Romance,” not “Murphy’s Law,” which was a wonderful British TV series starring James Nesbitt, who also portrays Borfur in the “Hobbit” trilogy. None of which takes away from the fact that there wasn’t any genre he didn’t master and he always did it with that easy charm, which is just as sexy as his physical beauty! He’ll be missed.

  • BlowdyJenner

    Super hot in his heyday. RIP.

  • DickieJohnson

    RIP, Handsome! As a kid, he gave me “that feeling” I didn’t understand, before I knew about homosex, as did Clint Walker, Clint Eastwood, Lloyd Bridges, and others! In “Sunset”, he played an aging Wyatt Earp, opposite a young and precious Bruce Willis, who played a silent movie cowboy star. It’s a cute Hollywood murder-mystery flick. Adios, James…

  • scotshot

    @vive: The abomination is your attitude towards aging. I certainly don’t want to die, but it’s a part of the journey.

  • LadyL

    @michael mellor: Well, compared to the actors of Mr. Garner’s era, today’s leading men are all teenage boys.

    I’m watching the “Maverick” marathon on the western channel as I write this. I will miss this guy so much; I loved James Garner. I’m just old enough to remember the debut of “The Rockford Files” but also recall him from all those amusing Polaroid commercials with Mariette Hartley and any number of wonderful films like the sublimely funny “Support Your Local Sheriff!” the wry drama “Hour of the Gun” and of course “The Americanization of Emily.”
    Does anyone else remember Garner once alluding to a strange childhood where his mother (or stepmother??) wanted a girl child and dressed him that way for the first few years of his life?

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