Garner's Tell-All
Packs A Few Punches

James Garner writes about getting physical with his abusive stepmother, getting high with Jim Belushi and getting into the business of Hollywood in his new tell-all, The Garner Files: A Memoir

James Garner reflects on his Hollywood career, his life and his co-stars in his new book, The Garner Files: A Memoir, and the 83-year old movie and TV legend isn't holding back.

James Garner tells all in The Garner Files: A Memoir

"Something funny happens as you get older," writes Garner. "You don't hold back so much."

With the help of co-author Jon Winokur, Garner recounts his life, starting with his mother dying and his escaping the hands of an abusive stepmother at only 14. Garner shares a truly grueling childhood tale, but yes, finally fought back and punched the woman who tortured him and his siblings -- and it wouldn't be his last!

"When I'm pushed, I shove." Garner writes, quoting his character Murphy of Murphy's Romance, and from the memoir, it sounds like he was pushed a lot. He also went off on a fan, co-star Tony Franciosa and a few other unlucky guys.

James Garner: The Man Behind the Legend(s)

TV and movie fans know Garner for playing wisecracking, charming, self-deprecating and unwilling anti-heroes, like the title characters in Maverick and The Rockford Files. From the tone of The Garner Files, that may be pretty close to the man behind the characters, who was born James Scott Bumgarner in 1928.

James Garner and Julie Andrews: The Americanization of Emily

"A card-carrying liberal -- and proud of it," Garner was Oklahoma's first draftee of the Korean War, earning two Purple Hearts before hitting Hollywood. There, he waged a very different battle with depression and stage fright, while building a career alongside the likes of Julie Andrews (pictured above), Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

In his memoir, Garner takes readers behind the scenes of his TV series and almost 50-year career while proving to be one of the harshest critics of his movies out there.

He talks candidly about his former co-stars, reflecting on how he watched Henry Fonda to learn the trade, broke Doris Day's ribs and got "heart-to-heart and eyeball-to-eyeball" with Steve McQueen.

Perhaps as telling as Garner's words, however, are the introduction by Julie Andrews and the book's 30-page "Outtakes" section, which shares anecdotes, memories and testimonials from Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, James Woods and David Chase.

With critics raving about the new release, The Garner Files: A Memoir is on stands now.

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Images courtesy of W.E.N.N./Simon & Schuster.MGM


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Comments on "James Garner talks pot smoking, punching his stepmother"

ED Sanderson January 30, 2014 | 3:20 PM

A Lifelong Garner fan - this man was an example of what a film STAR really is. The most handsome man I ever saw. My happiest childhood memories are of my parents (both sadly passed away now) and me sitting down together to watch Maverick and The Rockford Files - REAL family entertainment. Many thanks Sir for a huge contribution to film and TV entertainment. All the best.

Jackie January 29, 2013 | 7:15 PM

Rockford Files was a classic.Garner was down to earth, down on his luck, living in a trailer, had a great dad, a nutty friend Angel, and did his own stunts. No Jack Reacher for me. Rockford beats all.

Hector December 26, 2012 | 10:28 AM

I thought i was the only one who used to watch all these ancient TV pi or detectives now i know i am not alone .James Garner is one of my favorite actors i like everything he is in i have got the whole Rockford files episodes which i consider one of the best TV series ever made it feels like i know the characters personally.I wonder if there is a Rockford file fan club?

Jo Bennett April 19, 2012 | 8:07 PM

You cannot redo Jim Rockford. It is already set in stone he is one of a kind. James Garner will forever and always be Rockford!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Suzanne Moore November 02, 2011 | 4:27 PM

I totally agree with Chris. Of all the irrelevant things to headline - a ONE TIME dabble with cocaine with Belushi. Just goes to show what passes for "journalism" these days. He smoked pot for severe arthritis pain from old injuries - some of which he got serving his country in Korea. Heck, it's less dangerous and addictive than the four prescriptions I've been using for the last 20 years for my arthritis. I'd try it, but I don't think it's covered my Medicare.

Chris Cashio November 01, 2011 | 9:42 PM

This man was a Korean war hero with two purple hearts who rescued a little boy who was orphaned during the war, he was a benefactor of an African American sculptor, he stood up against a major studio on principle and won, he marched on Washington with Dr. King, etc... And all you can put in your headline is about drugs and punching a woman? FYI- That step mother he punched, not only made him wear girl's clothes but she raped his brother. If it had been me and my Brother, it would have been much worse than punching her.

Robert Howe November 01, 2011 | 5:38 PM

Thank you for your review of James Garner's new memoirs, "THE GARNER FILES" However, it is JOHN Belushi not JIM Belushi that Jim talks about the cocaine issue. You may want to correct that.

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