Jim Rockford A Maverick Detective

james rockford rockdord files

“Jimbo Looking Annoyed”

The Rockford Files starring James Garner as Jim Rockford (full name James Scott Rockford) first aired on NBC September 13, 1974. If you check back on a 74 calendar you’ll find this was Friday the 13th. Each episode of the Rockford files opened with a recorded phone message on Rockford’s answering machine.

“This is Jim Rockford. At the tone please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you.”

The messages could be from clients or they could be from creditors looking for Jim to pay them. Back in 1974 answering machines were something new and interesting. Jim Rockford specialized in cold cases. He did not want to be seen as interfering with the LAPD, most of whom did not care for him, so he did not take any open cases. Before becoming a PI, Jim had been wrongly convicted on armed robbery charges and spent 5 years in San Quentin. New evidence was discovered and he was given a full pardon.

The Rockford Files was different from most detective shows of the time. Jim preferred to go fishing to chasing bad guys. He didn’t have a permit to carry a gun and usually left his in a cookie jar. Rockford relied on his ability as a con artist with a gift of gab to help him solve his cases.

In the back seat of his Pontiac Firdbird he kept a printing press to manufacture calling cards he used for scams to con people into giving information. Jim’s car license plate was 853-OKG. We are not sure why :)

Joseph (often called Rocky) was Jim Rockford’s father. (Rocky was played by Noah Berry, Jr.) He was a retired truck driver who was unhappy with his son’s chosen profession because of the danger. Rocky was always trying to get Jim to do something else – maybe like driving a truck. Even so, there was a very close relationship between the two.

Jim Rockford had a large circle of friends. He retained friendship with his former cellmate Angel (played by Stuart Margolin) who was always getting Jim into trouble. Angel was always scheming and looking for an easy way to make a big score. He was cowardly, untrustworthy and selfish. Jim remained loyal to him throughout, the show even though some of Angel’s schemes blew up in their faces.

LAPD Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Dennis Becker (played by Joe Santos) was someone on the LAPD who Jim considered a friend . Jim would turn to Becker if he needed some information or a license plate run. The two were often arguing or fighting, but they still remained friends or maybe pals. His contact with Rockford sometimes got Becker in trouble with his superiors in the LAPD.

Jim Rockford’s other friends included his attorney, sometimes girlfriend, Beth Davenport, Rita Camphoric a former prostitute determined to go straight, Richie Brockelman a novice investigator, Lance White (Tom Selleck) an elegant private eye who drove Rockford crazy, Dr. Meghan Dougherty (Kathryn Harold) a blind psychiatrist and also a Jim’s love interest for awhile and quite a few more.

The Rockford Files ran for 5 ½ years and was cut short in the sixth year due to the ill health of the star. Garner had an ulcer as well as a bad back and bad knees. These problems may have stemmed from Jim insisting on doing his own stunts, including fights and car chases. In 2002 The Rockford Files was ranked #39 on TV Guide’s Greatest TV Shows of All Times. Eight reunion TV Rockford movies were mde from 1994 to 1999 and aired on CBS. These shows reunited most of the cast of the original show

Comments

  1. JanA says:

    James Garner was born in 1928 – not 1953
    I can’t believe you didn’t mention Gretchen Corbett – Jim Rockford’s long suffering attorney.

  2. Paul Cochran says:

    Good article, but Jim was born before 1953 – I think 8/53 was his first contract or something. And Tom Selleck’s name is misspelled . Keep up the good work!

  3. Paula says:

    I just wanted to correct something in the article. The 853 in the license plate of Jim’s Firebird doesn’t represent his birthday. It hasn’t been determined for sure but it is believed that 8/53 was when Jim first came to California or when he got his break. His birthday is actually 4/7/28. Just thought you might want to correct it in the article.

  4. Tom Coggins says:

    The Rockfird Files is my all time faorite show might be 39 on tv guides list but Number 1 in my opinon…

  5. admin says:

    Fixed the article. Thanks Guys!

    • Leslie says:

      There’s actually a couple more typos….Rita’s last name is not Camphoric…..also s/b Noah Beery, jr…..double check Kathryn H…..Nice piece. Good for a giggle. 8)

  6. admin says:

    @ JanA- We have an article coming all about her!

  7. Stephen K says:

    Admin, I enjoyed your article.
    Does anyone know why Rockford always went by the CB handle name Big Five Hundred?

    • admin says:

      I am not sure but I will make a note and see if we can find out!

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

  8. Robert Wells says:

    Great article-I’ve been a fan of the Rockford files since I was a teenager. 5 years ago, I actually visited Paradise Cove on vacation. I was also in a band called Angel Martin. Long live the Rockford Files !

  9. Carol says:

    Rita Capkovic was the hooker with a heart, played by the fabulous Rita Moreno. Great show!

  10. Shirley Smothers says:

    That Friday the 13th was a lucky day for all of us.

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