With nearly 100 acting credits to his name, James Garner was thriving during Hollywood’s Golden Age. In addition to his work in the entertainment industry, the Golden Globe winner was a military veteran and racer. Behind the scenes, he fought through a number of health issues to be a doting dad and husband.

What Happened to James Garner?

Garner was born in 1928 in Oklahoma. At age 16, he joined the Merchant Marines at the end of World War II. After the war, he attended high school but dropped out during his senior year to enlist in the National Guard. Garner went on to serve in the Korean War but was wounded twice in action, earning two Purple Hearts during his service.

After his military career came to an end, Garner appeared in a few plays and commercials and managed to snag minor parts in television series. Some of his earliest acting roles included 1956’s Toward the Unknown, Conflict and Cheyenne.

In 1957, Garner began portraying the lead role of Bret Maverick in the western TV series Maverick. He appeared in 63 episodes of the show until 1962. Several attempts were made to revive the program with Garner in the decades that followed, but none of them found the same success as the original iteration.

He turned his attention to films throughout the ‘60s, landing roles in The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily, 36 Hours, The Art of Love and more. Sharing the screen with the likes of Julie Andrews, Steve McQueen, Dick Van Dyke, Eva Marie Saint and many other film veterans led Garner to become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men.

The Marlowe actor returned to television from 1971 to 1972 with the series Nichols. He also starred in the detective drama The Rockford Files from 1974 to 1980. In 1985, Garner scored his first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Murphy’s Romance. In his later years in Hollywood, Garner’s acting credits included First Monday, 8 Simple Rules and The Notebook.

Who Was James Garner Married To?

Garner’s career spanned more than six decades, and he had his supportive wife, Lois Clarke, by his side through it all. The pair met in 1956 and got married just two weeks later.

Did James Garner Have Kids?

From a previous marriage, Clarke was already a mom to daughter Kim when she met Garner. He later adopted her and raised her as his own. The couple also welcomed daughter Greta, whom they called Gigi, during their marriage.

“I really hit the jackpot with my dad,” Gigi told Closer in October 2021. “He was the type of father that got down on the floor and played with you. He was very present. The greatest father in the world.”

James Garner sits with his hands clasped
Screen Archives/Getty Images

How Did James Garner Die?

Throughout his life, Garner opened up about experiencing a number of health issues, with multiple knee operations, a quintuple bypass surgery and he suffered a stroke in 2008.

“I’m constantly in pain. I have arthritis in my back, and my knees, and my hands. I had ulcers this year — and once an ulcer patient, always an ulcer patient,” he told People in April 1985. “I get depressed. Very.”

He was very thankful for the support of his longtime wife during his health battles.

“She’s just stuck with me all these years,” he said. “I guess she’s stubborn too.”

Garner died on July 19, 2014, at his Los Angeles home at the age of 86 from a heart attack. Seven years later, Clarke died on October 21, 2021.

“My father was an all-around good guy and a big animal lover,” Gigi said. “He was just a genuine person who lived by the Golden Rule. You just don’t get people like that nowadays.”