Maverick is His Name

Who is the tall, dark stranger there?
Maverick is his name
Riding the trail to who-knows-where
Luck is his companion
Gambling is his game
Wild as a wind in Oregon,
blowing up the canyon.
Easier to tame

River boat, ring your bell!
Fare thee well, Annabelle
Luck is the lady that he loves the best
Traveling ’round New Orleans,
living on jacks and queens
Maverick ïs the legend of the West

Yes, he was a natural.

He never did memorize the exact lines, but he was better than the writers, at what he said at the moment.  In the moment.

He didn’t need to act as Maverick, he was an original Maverick.  James Bumgarner,  was a self-described “scrounger” for his army company in the Korean War.

The Natural Operator.  It’s called Temperament.

IN MEMORIAM

James GarnerCrafter Artisan, (born James Scott Bumgarner; April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014) was an American actor. He starred in several television series over more than five decades, including such popular roles as Bret Maverick in the 1950s western comedy series Maverick and Jim Rockford in the 1970s detective drama series The Rockford Files.

Garner also starred in more than 50 films, including The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964), Grand Prix (1966), Blake Edwards’ Victor Victoria (1982), Murphy’s Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, Space Cowboys (2000), and The Notebook (2004) [Wikipedia, revised]

Few actors are great at hiding themselves in the role, not exposing who they really are.  Others act natural, what you see is what you get in person.  John Wayne and Robert Mitchum were that kind of actor.  James Garner was the same.  What you saw as James Garner was performing was the real James Garner: down to earth, charming, smooth, clever, quick to act, and handy with instruments, including his body as an instrument.  Good looking and athletic, a natural grace and charm exuded from Jim, and he treated everybody on movie set, fairly. Generous and a real stand up guy, except to the “suits” — the corporate yes men and the bean counters.  He battled with them — and won.  Yep, you would want Jim to be in your corner or on your side of the fight.  He was a tough cookie.  A gambling man with your money.  He held all the cards, and knew the tricks of the trade instinctively.

Crafters Artisans can be wonderfully generous and loyal to their friends, teammates, and sidekicks, often giving up their evenings or weekends to help with building projects or mechanical repairs-house remodeling, for example, or working on cars or boats. On the other hand, they can be fiercely insubordinate to those in authority, seeing rules and regulations as unnecessarily confining. Crafters will not usually go against regulations openly, but will simply ignore them. More than anything, Crafters want to be free to do their own thing, and they are proud of their ability to do it with an artist’s skill. [Please Understand Me II]

James Garner never had much time for what he saw as the pretentiousness of actors. He didn’t think about how to act, he said, ‘except that an actor shouldn’t take himself too seriously and shouldn’t try to make acting something that it isn’t’.  Shy and self-effacing, Garner was the classic plain-speaking Midwesterner who moved to Hollywood but never fell for its puffed up, underhand ways’

Garner was born in Norman, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children. His two older brothers were actor Jack Garner (1926–2011) and Charles Bumgarner, a school administrator who died in 1984. His family was Methodist. His mother died when he was five years old. After their mother’s death, Garner and his brothers were sent to live with relatives. Garner was reunited with his family in 1934, when Weldon Bumgarner, his father, remarried.

Garner grew to hate his stepmother, Wilma, who beat all three boys, especially young James. When he was fourteen, Garner finally had enough of his “wicked stepmother” and after a particularly heated battle, she left for good. James’ brother Jack commented, “She was a damn no-good woman”. Garner stated that his stepmother punished him by forcing him to wear a dress in public and that he finally engaged in a physical fight with her, knocking her down and choking her to keep her from killing him in retaliation. This incident ended the marriage.

After working at several jobs he disliked, at sixteen years of age, Garner joined the United States Merchant Marine near the end of World War II. He fared well in the work and with shipmates, but suffered from chronic seasickness.

At seventeen, he joined his father in Los Angeles and enrolled at Hollywood High School, where he was voted the most popular student. A high school gym teacher recommended him for a job modeling Jantzen bathing suits. It paid well, $25 an hour, but he hated modeling; he soon quit and returned to Norman. There, he played football and basketball, as well as competing on the track and golf teams, for Norman High School. He never graduated from high school,  “I was a terrible student and I never actually graduated from high school, but I got my diploma in the Army.”

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Garner was drafted, joining an infantry unit that was in the frontline as the  Chinese poured over the border, losing 60 per cent of its men in the first ferocious assault.  Garner won two Purple Hearts  (America’s oldest military medal) when he was wounded twice, first  in the face and hand by shrapnel  from a mortar round, and later in the buttocks from ‘friendly fire’ from a U.S. fighter jet. Garner was a self-described “scrounger” for his company in Korea, a role he later played in The Great Escape and The Americanization of Emily. After the Korean War, he drifted back to Hollywood, where his father was.

Garner married Lois Fleishman Clarke whom he met in 1956. They married 14 days later on August 17, 1956. “We went to dinner every night for 14 nights. I was just absolutely nuts about her. I spent $77 on our honeymoon, and it about broke me.”  According to Garner, “Marriage is like the Army; everyone complains, but you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.”  They were married for 58 years.

‘While his death at the age of 86 last Saturday prompted effusive tributes to an acting career spanning six decades, Garner’s passing was also mourned in the worlds of golf, auto racing and the NFL. Known and loved the world over for his performances in many movies and television series, such as, MaverickThe Rockford Files, The Americanization of Emily, Victor/Victoria, The Notebook and The Great Escape, sporting passions also coursed through his life.’

Crafters also seek fun and games on impulse, looking for any opportunity, and just because they feel like it, to play with their various toys: cars, motorcycles, boats, dune-buggies, hunting rifles, fishing tackle, scuba gear, and on and on. They thrive on excitement, particularly the rush of speed-racing, water-skiing, surfing.

“If I hadn’t been an actor,” wrote Garner in his memoir, The Garner Files, “I’d like to have been a race driver.

openquoteWhen I started working, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, in that I was just wandering around, hoping that I could succeed. Then after I got a little under my belt, it took me about 25 years to feel like I knew what I was doing.closedquote— James Garner

Other examples of Crafter Artisans include:  Nancy WakeKaren FinermanClarissa ShieldsChelsea BakerLarry BirdKatherine HepburnBruce LeeJay-ZMickey RourkeLisa PresleyTatum and Ryan O’Neal and Michael Jordan.

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