Tuesday, 13 March 2012

James Garner (with Jon Winokur), The Garner Files (2012)

Browsing the public library’s new acquisitions, I picked this up on a whim. Not sure why: I’m no big Garner fan. But I’m glad I did; it’s splendidly splenetic and bad-tempered.
If I didn’t want to be an actor, I certainly didn’t want to be a star. Fame is a trap. It comes and goes in a flash ... I wanted fortune, but never fame. Not only is fame fleeting, it’s also deceiving. People are constantly telling you how wonderful you are. Your ego blows up like a balloon. You get sucked in by your own publicity and lose your grip on reality. It’s a drug; you need more and more of it. It’s also a bargain with the devil: you win fame and lose anonymity. It sounds like a fair trade. It isn’t. ... I wasn’t always polite to autograph seekers. One year after a round at the Greater Greensboro Open, Billy Dee and I were being taken back to our hotel. A woman approached, stuck a paper and pen in my face and asked for an autograph. ‘Lady,’ I said. ‘How would you like to kiss a fat man’s ass?’ ... There are a few perks. You get special treatment here and there, but it isn’t worth it. If America suddenly got amnesiac and forgot who I was, that would be fine with me. I just don’t get it. On the one hand, I know that some people like my work, but somehow that doesn’t get through. I’ve never thought of myself as anything special, and I don’t like to be the centre of attention, but there wasn’t much i could do to avoid it. I’d have worn a disguise in public if i thought it would have done any good, but I figured they’d know who it was the minute I opened my mouth. It was once reported that I paid the seller of a map to the stars’ homes to take me off the list, but that’s not true. I may have threatened to give the guy a shot in the mouth, but I didn’t bribe him. [181-4]
Marvellous stuff. Otherwise I learned that Garner’s surname is actually ‘Bumgarner’, which is simply too wonderful; that his politics are, by American standards, left-wing (‘I’m a bleeding heart liberal, one of those card-carrying Democrats that Rush Limbaugh thinks is a communist. I’m proud of it’), and that there is only one thing he likes about being famous:
Nope, there’s nothing I like about fame. Except for the ten-foot-tall, bronze statue of me as Bret Maverick that was unveiled in Norman, Oklahoma, on April 21 2006.
There’s a profound truth here somewhere: fame is all downsides, except for the statues.


Bill from PA said...

If the citizens of Oklahoma became aware of his politics, they might tear down that statue like it was an effigy of Saddam Hussein. Fortunately, none are likely to read his, or any, book.

5 Nov 2008 USA Today:

Oklahoma bucks national trend with McCain vote
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Bucking a national groundswell that gave Democrat Barack Obama the White House, Oklahoma supported Republican John McCain, keeping the state in the GOP for the 11th straight presidential election.
With nearly all of the vote in, McCain had 66% of the vote to 34% for Obama.

Adam Roberts said...

Garner is an interesting figure, really. Quite active in Democratic politics, but also the embodiment of a certain good-looking macho star quality. Plus he won not one but two purple hearts when he served in Korea.

John said...

Oh this is so much amazing and interesting stuff, thanks a lot for sharing

This is a very beautiful and interesting research
The most educating one i have read today!

GED Online

Ray Garraty said...

So you are not a fan of The Rockford Files? It's a shame.

Adam Roberts said...

I like the Rockford files just fine!

Suzanne Moore said...

There is a BIG difference in being a Liberal Democrat and a "leftist" whatever you may mean by that term.

Garner served his country honorably in Korea, was wounded twice and awarded two purple hearts.

Garner was one of the first celebrities to openly fight for civil rights. He took part in the March on Washington even though he was told it could hurt his career.

Garner was one of the few celebs to visit our troops in Viet Nam. He visited hospitals and chatted with EVERY person before he left. Many vets have said he was their favorite celeb because of his down-to-earth manner.

Garner is a philanthropist who manages to avoid publicity on most of his works. As his late brother Jack said, "If I could pick anyone in the world to be my brother, it would be him. He is SO good-hearted. And not just the family. He wants to take care of everyone. A LOT of people have benefited from Jim's success." Bleeding-heart? Yep. This is bad?

Garner describes himself as "a-political." He has his opinions but is not really an activist. He has never run for public office even though he has been urged to over the years.

It's strange to me that some far right conservatives seem to always vilify a "liberal" - even out of context like this - but I never see it the other way round. This is not a book about politics - this is a book about a person's life and naturally it does mention his opinions on a lot of things - including politics.

BTW, Garner's life long best friend, Billy Dee, is a Republican.

And Bill from PA ~ Have you ever been in OK? They can read just as well as you and I imagine most of them have read this book.

Just because they voted Republican doesn't necessarily mean they are as narrow-minded as the radicals. There are a lot of fair minded conservatives, just as there are a lot of fair minded liberals. Not everyone lives in a box with a label.