Remembering James Garner: Actor and Polaroid Spokesman

'Rockford Files' Star Also Had Rich Commercial History With Mazda, Beef Council

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While he may be best known for his role in feature films and TV series "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," actor James Garner and who died Saturday evening at 86, was also a popular face in advertising.

Starting his career with TV commercials in the 1950s, Mr. Garner soon landed roles on the small screen and caught his big break as Maverick's Bret Maverick for which he played from 1957-1960 and later going on to play detective Jim Rockford in the popular TV series.

But he will also be remembered for his amazing chemistry with actress Mariette Hartley in Polaroid commericals from the late 1970s and 1980s.

His TV commercial work was not without controversy, however. Mr. Garner endoresed the Beef Council and it's "Real Food for Real People" campaign between 1987 and 1988 with spots on radio, TV and print. But the pitch for beef was followed by public criticism after the actor suffered a heart condition, leading him to undergo quintuple-bypass surgery in April 1988. The Beef Council subsequently shifted the blame from meat to Mr. Garner's years of smoking. The fallout led to an amicable split and the actor's contract with the Beef Checkoff program was not renewed.

The actor also endorsed Mazda, including in a Super Bowl ad.

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