James Garner had a troubled life before he became a famous actor and was able to overcome many obstacles on his path to fame. His parents, Weldon Bumgarner and Mildred Scott, both passed away when he was only five years old. He was born to them.
James had two elder brothers named Jack Garner, who was an actor, and Charles Bumgarner, who was a school administrator. They shared a residence in the space that was formerly occupied by Weldon’s hardware store and post office, which lacked indoor plumbing. When he was a mature adult, he came to the conclusion that his mother’s death was most likely the result of an unsuccessful abortion surgery.
After the passing of their mother, the three boys spent time with various members of their extended family until their father wed their stepmother, Wilma. After the fire that destroyed his business, their father made a career change and began working as a carpet layer. This led to the development of his alcoholism.
There was not a single positive thing that the Garner boys could say about their stepmother. Jack’s words from the past describe her as “a [expletive] no-good woman.”
According to the reports, James was the one who was constantly treated the worst. When he was in the middle school, he had to sleep on a cot in the basement next to their washtub, which was constantly full of wet clothes. This was his only option.
James was also burdened with the responsibility of removing cow poo from their yard and cleaning it up on a daily basis. It didn’t take him long to come to the conclusion that he had no choice but to fend for himself financially while he was in school since he couldn’t depend on anybody else.
After making up his mind, he began getting up at 3:30 in the morning to clean the administrative building at the school he attended. After that, he would get together with the other students in his class and go on with the remainder of his day.
Unfortunately, James’ official education came to a stop while he was in the ninth grade, thus he was never able to continue his schooling. After beginning his career as a salesperson for Curlee Clothes when he was only fourteen years old, he went on to hold a variety of other positions, including those of a driver, secretary, and babysitter.
His childhood anxieties ended up following him into adulthood, and his wife reportedly referred to him as a “complicated man” who had a childhood that was “abused, lonely, and deprived.” In spite of everything, his wife remained by his side and never abandoned him.
James’s life included another women before he met the woman who would become his wife. Grace was the name of the lady who his father wed, and he affectionately referred to her as “Mama Grace.” He loved her much and had been heard saying in the past that she was the one who most resembled a mother to him.
When James reached eighteen, he discovered that he was unemployed in Texas and subsisted only on crackers that he stole from restaurant tables. After three days, he contacted his father and requested for a straightforward birthday present: he wanted his father to lend him fifty bucks for his birthday.
His father said that he did not have the money, yet he still refused to give it to his son. His Mama Grace immediately picked up the phone and informed him that he would get the money in the morning, which is exactly what happened.
James was able to get back on his feet thanks to the fifty cash he received. He had a lifelong sense of obligation to her and supported her throughout her whole life.
The connection between James and his father improved once James began his career as an actor. James made it a point to spend time with both his father and Grace in the later years of their life, and it was during this time that he was able to forgive his father for things that had happened in the past.
“He may have had a drinking problem and married the wrong women, but he wasn’t evil,” he remarked of his father, referring to the fact that his father had said such words. His mother, Mama Grace, passed away in 2002, and his father went away in 1996.
His family did not approve of his decision to get married.
during the age of 28, James was introduced to a lady by the name of Lois Clarke during a rally. It was at that moment that he fell in love “for the first time and for the last time,” characterizing her as the ideal combination of Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.
“From the first time we spoke, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Still am,” he said in awe. When they first met, Lois shared with James the news that she had a daughter called Kimberly from a previous marriage, and that Kimberly suffered from polio.
From that point on, James and Lois continued to interact with one another on a daily basis, sometimes even twice a day. After two weeks had passed, they went to the Beverly Hills courthouse to be married. James once acknowledged that their relationship was a whirlwind, but they were able to make it work.
When it came to the matter of his family’s acceptance of his marriage, James did not anticipate any difficulties. On the other hand, they were against it and said that he and Lois had very little in common with one other.
The actor didn’t think the absence of resemblance between them was a problem at all. He thought that they were a good balance to one another, and he recognized strengths in areas that his family perceived as weaknesses.
Lois often fantasized of having a career in the theater. On the other hand, as she became older, she came to the conclusion that a famous lifestyle was not for her. She was not a fan of the public life that her husband led. The fact that they lived in an iron-gated house in Brentwood, California, which, although having some of the most breathtaking vistas, effectively sealed off the rest of the world from them, did not help matters.
Instead of pursuing the job of her dreams, she encouraged James in his endeavors. She was his pillar of strength, and together they weathered the storms of beginning their careers in the business and, eventually, earning prominence in the industry.
They had their first apartment acquired jointly, however it was unfurnished at the time of purchase. James didn’t want to be indebted to anybody, so he purchased each piece of furniture outright and paid cash for them all.
The Garners did not spend much time socializing with other performers during this time period; rather, they spent their time hanging out with folks who lived in the same building as them. They would host meals in their house and have their next-door neighbors over since Lois was such a good chef.
James has said that he prefers to spend his time in the company of those who knew him before he became successful. His current circle of friends accepted him for who he was, not for what he had accomplished, therefore he didn’t feel the need to broaden his social circle.
Although Lois was the one who performed the most of the cooking, James was also an excellent chef. When he wasn’t worn out from the studio, he’d assist Lois in the kitchen with anything she needed.
Someone who was close to James was quoted as saying that he never grumbled about his job. The fact that he couldn’t play golf due to his hectic schedule was the one thing that he was unhappy about.
Even when he became a famous actor, James did not change who he was at all. People did not see him as a celebrity but rather as a regular person. He followed the Golden Rule by adopting what he called a “good neighbor policy” for himself.
Because he was such a kind person, when the opportunity arose to increase his pay, he took it without question, not recognizing that he was being taken advantage of. The weekly wage of $350 and a contract extension of two years were both on the table for him, but he turned them down.
The amount of the offer was raised to $500 a week, but he was still planning to turn it down. On the other hand, Lois was pregnant with the couple’s daughter while Kim was still recuperating from polio. Therefore, he accepted the offer without understanding that the sum of $500 was really just $285, and the remaining $325 was being kept back as an advance against future residuals.
Due to the fact that performers did not get residuals in the past, James was never able to retrieve the large portion of his money. He never let his popularity to go to his head and continued to put in long hours of labor.
James acknowledged that he had worked with a number of stunning women, but he insisted on maintaining a professional demeanor at all times. He didn’t hold any animosity against any of them, but he also made sure he didn’t develop romantic feelings for any of them.
And despite the fact that he thought so highly of his marriage to Lois, it wasn’t without its share of difficulties. His mental health began to deteriorate over time as a direct result of his employment, which then moved to other areas of his life. James and Lois’ marriage had reached the twenty-year mark when the couple decided to divorce.
James and Lois were apart from one another for almost a year and a half before they made the decision to reconcile their differences and get back together. It took some time, but James and Lois never stopped working on their marriage. They did this by calling each other on the phone every single day and by going out on dates at least three times every week.
James’ life at the time was complicated by a number of factors, not the least of which was the decline of his marriage. Around the same time, he made an unexpected announcement that he was leaving television, and around the same time, he got into a fight with a driver that ended with him being severely beaten.
Last but not least, he was dealing with a plethora of health concerns, the most notable of which were ulcers, arthritis, and sinus issues. Throughout it all, James made it clear that the reason for their breakup was not because of a third party but rather due of the tiredness James experienced as a result of his job.
Because they were able to reconcile after being apart for long time, Lois referred to their reconciliation as a “miracle” in their marriage. James once stated the following in reference to marriage:
“Marriage is like serving in the armed forces. Everyone has something negative to say, yet you’d be amazed at how many people sign up for another tour of duty.
The pair showed a strong commitment to supporting one another in matters that were very important to both of them. During the course of their marriage, Lois was a staunch activist. She would write letters to various places, and she would sometimes use James’ name in these letters in order to give them an extra push.
When it came to James’s professional life, Lois was likewise quite outspoken. She went so far as to speak with his makeup artist about the aspects of her husband’s appearance that she found objectionable when she saw him on television.
James like it, despite the fact that some guys could find it irritating. He previously stated that his wife was an enormous assistance to him in many facets of his life, and he praised the excellent taste that his wife had.
James and Lois’ affection for one another remained unwavering until far later in both of their lives. They were often seen together holding hands, and they did not hesitate to publicly show their affection for one another.
James passed away at his home in Los Angeles on July 19, 2014 due to unavoidable natural causes. He was 86 years old when he passed away, and his legacy was carried on by Lois and their two children.
A Tribute to the Garner Family
It was verified on Twitter by Lois’s daughter Gigi that her mother died away in 2021, seven years after James had gone away. Their daughter would often update her social media accounts with new information on her parents and pay tribute to them by uploading pictures.
In 2019, Gigi chose to memorialize her father in a unique way. She paid public homage to him on the fifth anniversary of his death, which also happened to coincide with Father’s Day, and she also established the James Garner Animal Rescue Fund at that time.
Gigi asserts that her father has always had a soft spot in his heart for canines and would often take in strays. She noted that “there wasn’t a dog or a baby that my dad did not want to meet,” and it was one of her dad’s mottos.
Gigi, who works to save animals herself, thought that establishing an animal rescue fund in her father’s honour would be a wonderful way to remember his legacy and to keep his name alive. In addition to that, it made it possible for Gigi to keep a connection with her father in some kind.