Garner was found dead at his home in Los Angeles. While he underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008, the cause of death was not immediately known.
He shot to fame in the 1950s on the western series Maverick from 1957 – 1960, landing an Emmy nomination for roving gambler and reluctant hero, Bret Maverick.
He later won an Emmy as L.A. private eye Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files, which aired from 1974 to 1980.
LA Times notes “the action-drama was devoid of private-eye cliches. Instead of a secretary, Rockford had an answering machine, and instead of an office, he worked out of the weather-beaten house trailer that he lived in at the beach.”
“If you look at it, he’s not a hell of a lot different from Maverick,” Garner told Daily Variety in 2005. “They’re antiheroes, both of them, and, for an actor, that’s probably the most fun kind of leading man to play.”
Yet Garner amassed more than 80 movie and TV-movie credits during his more than 50-year career.
Other TV credits included 8 Simple Rules, Chicago Hope, Streets of Laredo, Man of the People, Cheyenne and Nichols.
Films include The Children’s Hour, The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily, The Thrill of It All, Move Over, Darling, Grand Prix, Support Your Local Sheriff, Marlowe, Victor/Victoria, Space Cowboys and The Notebook.
In 2005, Garner received a life achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild.