Jack Garner

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Jack Garner
Born Jack Edward Bumgarner
(1926-09-19)September 19, 1926
Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died September 13, 2011(2011-09-13) (aged 84)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–2011

Jack Garner (born Jack Edward Bumgarner; September 19, 1926 – September 13, 2011) was an American actor, best known for The Rockford Files and numerous other television roles. He was the elder brother of James Garner.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and career[edit]

Garner was born in Norman, Oklahoma, the son of Mildred Scott (née Meek) and Weldon Warren "Bill" Bumgarner.[1][3][5] He was the second of three boys including actor James Garner (youngest) and Charles Bumgarner (oldest).[3][5] The family operated a general store on Denver Corner in eastern Norman.[3] The boys were sent to live with relatives after their mother died, while Garner's father remarried several times.[1]

Garner was a star athlete at Norman High School, playing on the state championship basketball team in 1945.[3] Jack Garner played as a minor league baseball pitcher for a team affiliate with the Pittsburgh Pirates for eleven years.[1][5] He then worked for several golf courses in Florida after leaving the minor leagues.[5] Years later, brother James Garner wrote about Garner's athletic abilities in his memoir, "At Norman High, he was a point guard on a championship basketball team and quarterbacked an all-state football team...But his best sport was baseball: Jack was a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for 11 years. He was a better athlete than I was and a lot more outgoing. I was always in his footsteps."[3] Garner became a longtime member of the Professional Golfers' Association, played competitively, and later became a golf pro at[6] Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, California.[2][5] His golf experience allowed him to coach at the country club and elsewhere.[4] Garner taught Dan Aykroyd, his co-star in the 1996 film My Fellow Americans, to properly swing a golf club for a scene in that movie.[4]


Jack and James eventually moved to Los Angeles to reconnect with their father, who had relocated to southern California.[1][2][4] Both changed their names to Garner after the move west.[3] The third brother, Charles Bumgarner, who died in 1984 at the age of 60, remained in Norman and became a school administrator.[3] Garner entertained as the lead singer for the Coconut Grove nightclub, located in the now defunct Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles early in his career.[5]

Jack Garner began acting in television during the late 1960s.[1] His roles included guest appearances on Love, American Style, The Bionic Woman, The Doris Day Show, Daniel Boone, The Green Hornet, Mannix, Medical Center and Murder, She Wrote.[1][4] He appeared in The Rockford Files in more than sixty television episodes of the show.[1] Garner later appeared in Bret Maverick portraying Jack the Bartender from 1981 to 1982.[1] Garner reprised his Rockford Files roles in a series of television movies based on the series from 1996 to 1999.[2]

Garner's film roles included Wild Rovers in 1971, Maverick in 1994, My Fellow Americans in 1996 and Sunset in 1988.[1]

Jack Garner suffered a fall in September 2011, which resulted in a broken hip.[3][4] Doctors determined that his heart was not strong enough to withstand surgery to repair the hip so Garner was transferred to a facility for long-term care.[3] However, his condition suddenly worsened within one week.[3] Garner died at a hospice in Rancho Mirage, California, near his home in Palm Desert, on September 13, 2011, six days shy of his 85th birthday.[2] He was survived by his former wife, Betty Bumgarner; his daughter, Liz Bumgarner, and son-in-law, Don Dykstra; and younger brother, James Garner.[1][2] His memorial service was held at the Wiefels Mortuary in Palm Springs, California.[4]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1971 Wild Rovers
1996 My Fellow Americans President Haney's Caddy
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Streets of Laredo
1974 The Rockford Files


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jack Garner dies at 85". Variety. 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Jack Garner, entertainer, athlete, dies at age 84". The Desert Sun. 2011-09-22. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rieger, Andy (2011-09-15). "Jack Garner dies at age 84". Norman Transcript. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Barnes, Mike (2011-09-19). "James Garner's Actor Brother Dies at 84". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Passings:Tom Wilson Sr., Jack Garner, Martha L. Willman". Los Angeles Times. 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  6. ^ "PGA mourns loss of Jack Garner". Official Website of the PGA of Southern California. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 

External links[edit]