JAMES GARNER passed away at his California home on Saturday night, at the age of 86. The Associated Press says he died of natural causes.

James was best known for his starring roles as Jim Rockford on the '70s detective show, "The Rockford Files", and Bret Maverick on the '50s western, "Maverick". He was also in the 1994 movie version of "Maverick" alongside MEL GIBSON.

 

He won an Emmy for "The Rockford Files" in 1977. But your kids probably know him from his time on "8 Simple Rules".

 

Garner starred in more than 50 movies . . . including "The Great Escape" (1963), "Grand Prix" (1966), "Murphy's Romance" (1985) . . . which got him an Academy Award nomination . . . "Space Cowboys" (2000), and "The Notebook" (2004).

 

He had several health issues over the years. His knees gave him a lot of problems in his "Rockford Files" years. He had "six or seven knee operations" during that time, and in 2000, he had both knees replaced.

 

In 1988, he had quintuple bypass heart surgery and his doctors insisted that he stop smoking. He complied . . . 17 YEARS later, in 2005. He had surgery after suffering a minor stroke in 2008.

 

Here's video of him in "The Rockford Files" . . . here's a collection of the answering machine messages from the start of each episode . . . and here's Garner talking about how the show ended with him being sued by the studio.

 

And here's a clip of him playing the older version of Ryan Gosling in "The Notebook”, and some old-school footage of him in "Maverick."