The Rockford Files was a massive influence on the detective and police dramas that are massively popular today, and itself can hold its weight against the more modern, flashy procedurals.
The show was both a popular and critical success when it aired, to the point where it’s been listed as one of the best TV shows of all time and still runs on TV networks today. Though many factors led to its success, its lead actor James Garner is an important ingredient in the formula of The Rockford Files. As such, it makes sense that he would receive much praise for his role on the show, and indeed he did — as well as multiple award nominations.
But what awards was Garner nominated for? And did he win any of these awards?
Though The Rockford Files was influential, it was by no means the first detective show on television. However, the producers of the show decided they wanted to do something different with their lead.
Instead of being associated with a police department, with nice clothes and access to typical police resources, the main character Jim Rockford (played by James Garner) was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime before being pardoned, and now works as a private investigator to pay the bills.
The cases Rockford takes are also different: he pursues missing persons, cold cases, and scams, and tries to keep out of police business. He’s also less of an action hero — he isn’t weak, but he’ll eschew violence and fighting if he can get out of the situation with words.
His criminal past also means he has connections to an underworld that the police might be less familiar with, which both helps him with cases and adds a gritty edge to the show.
Garner had multiple film and television roles before he started on The Rockford Files. His early roles were supporting roles in films and television, but in 1957, Garner became a household name with his role as the eponymous Bret Maverick on the western drama Maverick.
This show aired until 1962 and featured guest actors like Clint Eastwood. After Maverick, Garner started acting in more films, from romantic comedies with Doris Day to WWII dramas with Steve McQueen to westerns with Sydney Poitier.
Throughout this decade, Garner was one of the biggest names on screen. It only made sense that he would soon return to the small screen as the lead on The Rockford Files in 1974, a role that would only raise his name further.
James Garner was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, both as actor and producer. In 1977, he won best lead actor for his role on The Rockford Files; his production award would come later in 1987.
He was also nominated for 10 Golden Globes, winning most promising newcomer in 1958 and two more in the 1990s. Later in his life, he was nominated for five Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, winning a Life Achievement Award in 2004.
Finally, he was nominated for two Television Critics Association Career Achievement Awards in 2008 and 2010, winning the latter. And that’s just his film awards — Garner was also a National Guardsman, earning multiple medals. It’s clear that Garner’s career was more than just successful — it was phenomenal!
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