James Garner Net Worth At Death – How Did He Get Rich? Exposed!

James Garner Net Worth At Death

James Garner had an estimated net worth of $20 Million at death. He was an actor known for his lead roles in the TV shows “Maverick, “The Rockford Files” and for films including “The Notebook.” He earned the majority of his income from movies and TV shows.

James Garner, born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma, rose to fame as the star of the Western television series Maverick (1957-60). He went on to star in blockbusters like The Great Escape (1963), Grand Prix (1966), and the Oscar-winning Victor Victoria (1982). He was nominated for an Oscar for Murphy’s Romance (1985) and won a Golden Globe for Decoration Day (1990). Garner died at the age of 86 on July 19, 2014.

To calculate the net worth of James Garner, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as loans and personal debt, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: James Garner
Net Worth: $20 Million
Monthly Salary: $200 Thousand+
Annual Income: $2 Million+
Source of Wealth: Actress, Film Producer, Soldier, Voice Actress, Television producer

Early Life

James Garner, born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma, experienced a difficult childhood during the Great Depression-era Dust Bowl. He is the third and youngest of three sons. He lost his half-Cherokee mother, Mildred Bumgarner, when he was four years old. Weldon Warren “Bill” Bumgarner, James’ father, eventually abandoned him and his brothers Charles and Jack, leaving them in the care of relatives. After Bill remarried a few years later, the Bumgarner boys were reunited with their father. Their new stepmother, on the other hand, was physically and verbally abusive to her stepsons. She and Weldon Bumgarner divorced in the end.

When his father moved to Los Angeles, James Garner stayed in Oklahoma and dropped out of school. During the final year of World War II, he lied about his age to join the Merchant Marine at the age of 16. Following that, he decided to live in California with his father, where he briefly attended Hollywood High School. Garner, on the other hand, did not finish high school, instead dropping out to work as a model for Jantzen bathing suits. “I used to make $25 an hour!” he remembered. “That’s why I dropped out of school. I was earning more than the teachers.”

But it didn’t last long. Garner was the first Oklahoman drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War in 1950. Garner returned to the United States after suffering two battlefield injuries and receiving two Purple Hearts. He never finished high school, but he did get his GED.

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Big Break

Garner eventually stumbled into acting. Garner accepted a small role as a judge in a Broadway production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial after being approached by a talent agent friend and enticed by the prospect of a new job. Although Garner spent the majority of his time in the background, his presence allowed him to learn from the show’s legendary lead actor, Henry Fonda. Garner began internalizing what it took to be an actor by watching Fonda and occasionally having the opportunity to read lines during rehearsals.

In 1956, Warner Bros. offered him a film contract as a result of that role. Unlike many future stars, Garner saw acting as a way to make a living rather than a dream come true. “I’m a Spencer Tracy type,” Garner explained. “His plan was to be on time, know what you were saying, hit your marks, and tell the truth.” Garner’s lunch-bucket strategy paid off, as he landed several supporting roles in films, including Sayonara (1957), starring Marlon Brando. His big break was right around the corner. (In the meantime, Warner Bros. began billing him as Garner rather than Bumgarner without his permission.)

Garner’s acting career took off when he was cast as the title character, Bret Maverick, in the Western television series Maverick, which aired from 1957 to 1960. Garner seemed to believe that the fact that he was already under contract for a regular (and relatively low) fee had something to do with the studio’s decision to cast him. Westerns were popular on American television at the time, and Maverick was initially thought to be typical of the genre. However, the show eventually found its niche by portraying Garner’s character as somewhat lazy and unwilling to be bothered, but essentially good-hearted and effective at catching the bad guys. The show’s gentle mockery of Western conventions, as well as Garner’s likeable, unconventional character, were well received by fans.

Making it in Hollywood

Garner was learning about the darker side of the entertainment industry at the same time he was getting his first taste of what it was like to play a lead role. His time on Maverick was cut short by a successful lawsuit against Warner Bros. During a writers’ strike in 1960, the studio suspended Garner without pay, claiming that they couldn’t pay him because they didn’t have any scripts to work from. A judge ruled in favor of Garner; it turned out that the company had plenty of writers writing plenty of scripts during that time period, so they had violated Garner’s contract by suspending him without pay.

Garner, who was relieved to be out of his low-paying contract with Warner Bros., moved on, appearing in films such as The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964), and Grand Prix (1965). (1966). But it wasn’t until he returned to television that his career reached new heights.

Garner rose to prominence as Jim Rockford, a private detective, in the television series The Rockford Files (1974-80). The series, like Maverick, presented a subtle parody of its own genre, led by a likeable anti-hero. Garner’s time on the show would also end in a lawsuit. Garner attempted to leave the show because the show’s strenuous production work had aggravated his old Korean War injuries and left him with several new ones. To fulfill his contract, NBC cast him in a couple of short-lived Maverick spin-offs, but they fizzled. Garner eventually sued NBC for defrauding him of his fair share of The Rockford Files profits. Garner won the suit, and NBC paid him an undisclosed sum. During the 1970s, Garner was also known for his Polaroid advertisements with Mariette Hartley.

Garner returned to the big screen in the 1980s. He co-starred in the Oscar-winning Victor Victoria (1982) with Julie Andrews and was nominated for an Oscar for Murphy’s Romance (1985), in which he starred opposite Sally Field. Garner also appeared in several television movies, garnering nominations and winning a Golden Globe for best actor for Decoration Day (1990). Garner was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. Despite his success, Garner faced major challenges during the decade, including quintuple bypass heart surgery around the same time.

Death & Legacy

After the untimely death of its original male lead, John Ritter, James Garner continued his acting career well into the 2000s, signing for a major role on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules. Garner had a supporting role in the 2002 film Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and played a husband whose wife has Alzheimer’s disease in 2004’s The Notebook. Garner was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Best Supporting Actor Award and received the SAG Life Achievement Award the same year. Garner, according to SAG President Melissa Gilbert, “is a man of integrity and quiet generosity who has served his peers, community, and country. He embodies elegance, style, wit, and depth. He is a role model for all actors in America.”

Garner’s career is one of the longest in Hollywood, and his marriage is almost as long. On August 17, 1956, Garner married Lois Clarke. They met at a campaign stop for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. The couple had only known each other for a few weeks before marrying. Garner adopted Clarke’s previous marriage’s daughter, Kimberly, when she was nine years old. Greta (known as Gigi) Garner and Clarke have a daughter of their own, Greta (born in 1958).

Despite suffering a stroke in 2008, James Garner remained in relatively good health and remained one of the most popular and well-liked actors in television history. Perhaps his success stems from his insistence on viewing acting as a job rather than pursuing celebrity for the sake of celebrity. He almost declined the SAG Life Achievement Award, citing his dislike of public speaking: “It scares the devil out of me.” “Well, this will be shorter than others,” he said of his speech when he finally accepted. True of his speech, perhaps, but fortunately for fans, not of his career. Garner died at the age of 86 on July 19, 2014.

Favorite James Garner Quotes

You can never have too many friends.

James Garner


I think my attitude has always been to put food on the table.

James Garner


I’ve been on the wrong end of violence, and I’ve done violence myself… I refuse to glorify violence in my movie and television roles.

James Garner


When I’m pushed, I shove.

James Garner


My goal has always been longevity. Not fame and fortune, just get a job and keep it.

James Garner


It wasn’t until I’d turned 50 and had been in the business 25 years that I realized I might actually have a career as an actor.

James Garner


I think people like to see a little larceny in their heroes.

James Garner


When 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.

James Garner


Even my stuntman is old.

James Garner

View our larger collection of the best James Garner quotes.

Further Reading

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