There was more to James Garner than just his acting and racing careers. The beloved actor, who died July 19 (read about his career, life and death in this related Inquisitr article) left behind a legacy of political activism.
Like the vast majority of the people in the TV and movie industries, James Garner was a staunch, lifelong Democrat. That’s hardly unusual — according to this article in Suite, Hollywood gives five times more money to Democrats than to Republicans. But where many Hollywood Democrats like to talk the talk, Garner walked the walk — sometimes literally.
On August 28, 1963, Garner was photographed by the New York Daily News walking hand-in-hand with black actress Diahann Carroll during the March on Washington — a peaceful demonstration that was a watershed moment in the Civil Rights Movement. At the time, the very act of a white man holding hands with a black woman would have been outrageous. But that did not matter to James Garner; throughout his career, he stuck to his strongly democratic principles, even incorporating his beliefs into his acting career.
For the 1985 CBS miniseries Space, Garner asked that the political affiliation of the lead character be changed from Republican to Democrat, saying, “My wife would kill me if I ever played a Republican,” according to a 1985 Boston Globe article that is not currently available online, but is cited on Garner’s Wikipedia page.
Interestingly, when principled Democrat James Garner had to work with “ultraconservative” Mel Gibson on the 1994 film version of Maverick, there was no friction between the two actors. He later told The Village Voice: “Mel and I got along fine.
In his 2011 memoir The Garner Files, James dished on Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, two notable Hollywood Republicans. As quoted in Variety:
“In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn’t qualified to be governor, let alone president.”
Also in his memoir, James recounts being approached about running for U.S. Congress as a Republican in 1962.
“It didn’t stop them when I told them I was a Democrat…. They just thought I could win.”
He was again approached about running for office, this time for Governor of California in 1990, and again turned the opportunity down.
“There’s one difference between me and [Schwarzenegger and Reagan]: I know I’m not qualified.”
What is your opinion of entertainers such as James Garner, Tim Robbins, and Natalie Maines mixing politics with entertainment? Let us know in the comments.
[Image source: New York Daily News]