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James Garner


James Bumgarner hated garlic. Hated it. He could smell it a mile away. Yet that hatred may have saved the lives of his army unit during the Korean War. In his memoir, he describes smelling the garlic wafting in the air from the direction of North Korean positions. The North's soldiers gradually came closer, and Bumgarner alerted his unit, which was able to shut down that advance.

Bumgarner. Must have been a geeky nerd.

James Scott Bumgarner was born in Norman, Oklahoma, on April 7, 1928. His father's disastrous marriage to a stepmother who abused the children led to a divorce. Father Weldon went to California and James joined the Merchant Marine. His delicate digestive system came into play and he mustered out with constant seasickness.

Bumgarner bounced between California and Oklahoma, attending Hollywood High, modeling men's bathing suits, and playing high school football back home.

Then Korea. Then Hollywood. You know what comes next. MaverickRockford Files. Mid-1960s success on the movie screen. His marriage to Mariette Hartley. An Academy Award nomination for his role in Murphy's Romance. OK, one of those is an urban legend. Another urban legend about Garner vastly blew up the Korean garlic nose thing. But what I told you about that was true.

James Garner died at age 86 on July 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. He had been married to his wife Lois, who survives him, since 1954. She had brought her one daughter into the marriage, and they had another.

I know. I didn't tell you much about his career. Why bother repeating all the details when I can leave you with this Jantzen swimming suit ad?

Did I mention how much I loved him?


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