The Garner Files (Paperback)

By Jon Winokur, Julie Andrews (Introduction by), James Garner

Simon & Schuster, 9781451642612, 288pp.

Publication Date: October 23, 2012



Told in the charming and self-deprecating style that has made him one of America's most beloved celebrities--the real story behind Hollywood legend James Garner, from his Depression-era childhood to his colorful career.

His incredible story, in his own words.

One of Hollywood's all-time great leading men, James Garner enjoyed a remarkable career spanning six decades, and whether you know him as Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford, his appeal bridges generations. Few know the real story, now told in this intimate memoir of growing up in Depression-era Oklahoma and triumphing in Hollywood.

After physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother, Garner left home at fourteen. He was Oklahoma's first draftee of the Korean War, receiving two Purple Hearts for combat wounds. Back in Los Angeles in need of a job, Garner reluctantly tried acting and was surprised to find his career taking off. Working with such luminaries as Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood, he became a star in his own right. He threw himself into his work, and despite stage fright and bouts of depression, constant physical pain and epic battles with the Hollywood establishment, he became the acting equivalent of a national monument.

Written with Jon Winokur, The Garner Files is a wry, engaging self-portrait chronicling the vagaries of a screen career along with the cast of personal and professional characters that helped shape a great American life.

Praise For The Garner Files

“Garner tells his life story with the same wry, self-effacing charm that characterized his classic TV characters: the laidback cowboy Bret Maverick and the down-on-his-heels gumshoe Jim Rockford…Garner comes across as likable on the page as he does on screen.”

Kirkus Reviews

“…the narrative is genuine, candid, and more informative than usual for a Hollywood bio…Truly a cut above most actor bios, this is prime stuff for film and television collections.”


“Laid-back charm and a sense of humor fuel such memories, two qualities shared by the characters Garner often played in a career of 50-plus years…Full of funny stories and observations, The Garner Files offers the kind of clubhouse banter you might expect from a hardworking, successful guy who doesn't take himself too seriously — and doesn't want you to, either.”

Associated Press

“James Garner stepped into two of TV's most calcified genres — the western and the detective series — and set a new standard that others have been chasing down since…having made up his mind to write [a memoir]…Garner follows his own heroic dictum: Plenty of self-deprecating, humor, a general air of live-and-let-live, but when it comes down to it, no pulled punches. For Garner fans, The Garner Files is catnip…[Garner] is unfailingly candid about his own desires…it is a fine, frank and fun collection.”

Los Angeles Times

“Stand aside for Maverick! Stand aside again for Jim Rockford!...Let this neatly written and well-supplemented little book—all of [Garner’s] friends provide relevant stories and fond judgments—set a new standard of integrity for the genre…You could hand this book as a primer on ethics to any young man just reaching the age of choosing his way in life.”

—Clive James, The Atlantic

“[an] enjoyable memoir…there's plenty to love in this book. Garner…has a knack for telling a story and finding the perfect quote to tie it all together…charming…[It] resembles a conversation with an old friend who loves to tell colorful stories.”

“James Garner's memoir is as easygoing and plain-spoken as his acting persona…[He] wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The Garner Files is a classic tale of making it in Hollywood fueled…with Garner’s good looks, fortune, charm, and sense of humor.”

“If you buy one cranky celebrity memoir this fall, might we suggest James Garner's The Garner Files?”

“Garner follows his own heroic dictum: Plenty of self-deprecating, humor, a general air of live-and-let-live, but when it comes down to it, no pulled punches. For Garner fans, ‘The Garner Files’ is catnip…it is a fine, frank and fun collection.”