Monday, July 21, 2014

The world just ain't the same without "Jimbo"...Remembering James Garner - By Darin Bristow

Bit of a stretch between posts, my first in almost 7 years, but I decided that in the light of James Garner's passing, it seemed fitting to put my thoughts on this blog, which I created as a tribute to him, and all things 'Rockford'. This is meant for fans as I think only fans will truly get this. Hope you enjoy...

With the passing of TV and Film legend James Garner- who had a huge influence on me- I’ve realized it is indeed the end of an era.  He was a towering giant over Televisions's 1950’s and 1970’s golden ages, the likes of which we’ll never see again. He defined and refined not one, but two of TV’s largest genres,  the Western and the Detective series, and turned them both inside out.

And now he's gone. 

I watched a few 'Rockford' episodes yesterday, and they looked different.  Older.  Distant. Somehow farther away. Knowing James Garner had passed on made me view the episode with different eyes and I realized my life has 2 parts now: There’s my life before Garner’s passing, and my life afterwards.  Is it just me who feels this way? Didn't it seem like he'd be around forever? Before his passing the world seemed a safer, warmer, and friendlier place, and that life as we know it was still ok.  This may sound silly to say out loud- but in reading all the facebook posts since his passing- many have said the same.  "Jim represented a constant in an ever-changing world". To think that James Garner, Maverick, or Jim Rockford were still out there- somewhere, keeping an eye on us-was somehow reassuring.  Garner seemed indestructible, and much like Rockford, he'd just keep coming back. A TV movie, feature film, a commercial, we knew he was out there and somehow that fact kept the world in balance. (or my world at least) Old fashioned values would remain and if we “kept calm and Garnered on” it would all work out. In an ever increasing world of violence, chaos, and complication, having Garner pop by every now and then made it somehow seem ok, and that everything was going to work out.  But sadly he's gone and the world just ain't the same. Now the world now seems just that much colder, that much more frightening, and those warmer days at Paradise Cove are that much more distant.  I too feel instantly older. To watch  “A Material Difference” in this new world, with my new eyes, knowing our beloved "Jimbo" isn't out there- the episode somehow seems to have lost a bit of it’s light or it's soul, and it too seemed a bit older- overnight. 

It’s the end of an era folks.  We know it. TV’s struggling, ratings are fragmented, and 'the truth' is gone. James Garner was the truth. No one can replace him, although many have tried, but no one ever will.  Who do we really have left from his era can we now count on? Anyone current who remotely has his appeal is just a faded copycat. Who else could take an average line and redeliver it as a sardonic gift? Who else could steal an entire movie with one scene- like Jim did in ‘The Notebook”?  No one- and we know it. Only Jim could bring that genuine class, warmth, and charm to that movie. It was reacting at it’s finest. He was one of the true greats, the real deal- the truth- and there is no one better onscreen or off anymore.
He was- and is- a true legend- and we are all that much lesser without him. Say it with me folks - "James Garner was the truth".

He was even old school in his passing! When's a more fitting time for a TV icon of Garner’s stature to go than Saturday Night at 8pm- a prime-time spot in the era when TV mattered most. 

Darin J. Bristow

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Summer of 2000: Paradise cove and A&E!!

It was the summer of 2000. The CBS Rockford Files reunion movies we're still airing as repeats over the course of the season, A&E had just broadcast James Garner's offical Biography episode, and I was on my way to 'Jimmy's' home while on a job interview in LA!

I stopped in to visit Paradise Cove after my job interview looking for James Rockford and ended up meeting James Bond!!

In the Spring of 2000 I was watching an episode of A&E's popular series 'Biography', when I realized there hadn't been an episode of James Garner's life and career. I found that odd as he was on the cover of the first A&E monthly magazine. I went to my computer and emailed someone at A&E online to complain. I stated a brief overview of his career, him being the only actor to sue 2 major Hollyowood studios and win, etc etc, and as a joke I said something to the effect of " When will you be doing Mr.Garners episode? Or were you waiting for production of the bio of 'Mr.Ed the horse' to wrap first!??"

I fired it off into cyberspace thinking no one would read it or respond.

They did.

About 2 days later I recieved a response email from someone from 'Biography'asking me for more info on Mr. Garner, as they were also 'surprised his bio hadn't been done yet with him being such a popular star and because he was on the magazine cover". They also asked me for anyone else they could talk to regarding info on his life. I suggested Mr. Ed Robertson, who had written 2 books on Garner: 'Maverick:Legend of the West' and 'The Rockford Files'. I also scanned in the covers of my TV guides and attached those to the email to show how many times he'd been on it, proving his enduring popularity ( see my previous posts)

I sent that email out and I again thought I'd never hear back from them.

I did.

2 days later I got another email saying they were going 'greenlite' a James Garner Biography episode. At that time James Garner was in the news again having just finished a high-profile acting turn with Paul Newman ( Twilight , and had just signed to star in Clint Eastwoods' next movie (Space Cowboys). A&E stated that hopefully the Biography episode would be done in time for that films release. They also had contacted Ed Robertson and told me he agreed to help contribute to the Biography. A&E thanked me for bringing all this to their attention, and asked for my address.

I responded saying I was excited and to let me know when it was to air.

They did better than that...

About 3 months later, in mid July I recieved a package in the mail. It was a copy of the finished A&E BIOGRAPHY on VHS! The episode was not scheduled to be broadcast until August to coinicide with the 'Space Cowboys' release date, so I was able to view it before most of the world.

That was pretty cool, and ever since then I have remained in contact with, and have become friends with the great Ed Robertson. ( More on him later)

To this day I don't know, and cannot prove that the TV Guide covers they show within the Garner Biography episode are mine that I sent via email, but I like to think they are!


More of my Firebird pics!

All taken in the summer of 2000!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Summer 2000 - The ultimate Rockford memoralbilia!

2000 was a great summer, and it was about to get even greater with the addition of the 'Rockfordmobile'!

I stumbled across a 1979 Pontiac Firebird sitting in a field in London, Ontario. It needed a paint job and some interior work, but I wanted my very first car to be memorable and what better to have as my first car than Jim Rockford's car of choice! I dropped 900 bucks on it and drove it away!

A base model Firebird is very hard to find as not many people kept those in good condition because the highly prized, and souped up 'Trans Am' version was the car to get back then. 'Smokey and the Bandit' immortalized that car but James Garner felt that even though the Trans Am was cooler, Jim Rockford would probably only be able to afford the Firebird.

Even better still, for my birthday that year my girlfriend at the time did some inspired gift research and discovered that Jimbo's famous plate number '853 OKG' was not taken in Canada and secured it for me! It's now the ultimate Rockford Firebird!

I've even had one guy follow me home and when I get out of the car to see what he wanted, he was like " that Jim's plate number?" When I said said yes, and that he had a great memory, he smiled and said " HA! I knew it! I Love that show, and I love you're car man!"

Some other Rockford/Garner items of interest...

The Kaiser Aluminum company sponsored Maverick during it's hottest years on the air. Since Bret Maverick always wore a 1000 dollar bill pinned inside his vest for good luck, these phoney bills and coins were made for kids that pitched Kaiser products on the reverse.

Extremely rare! The signatures of all the Cowboy stars from each Warner Bros. tv show on the air in 1957. This postcard would be mailed in response to any kids who wrote fan mail to the studio.

In 1957, Maverick's bolo tie was a hot item for kids

The Rockford files theme was a Top 10 music hit in the summer of 1975, and I found a 45prm record single of it.

As I searched for Rockford related items I stumbled upon some really cool, and rare, items of interest. A few of these are really hard to find as they are almost 50 years old!

Tv Guides from Ebay ( 1999 -2000 )

Ebay is awesome. I found these rare TV Guides all featuring James Garner, and collected them slowly over the course of 2 years. Many people collect old Tv Guides, but I was only interested in tracking down copies that either featured " The Rockford Files", or James Garner. These are all the issues James Garner has appeared on the cover (so far) in his 50 year career. It's kinda neat to read thru these copies and see what shows' were popular in those years.

My Autograph collection Part2 (1999 -2000)

1994 Maverick Movie card
James Garner's autograph (1996)

1994 CBS movie autograph of Stuart Margolin (Evelyn "Angel" Martin)

More Autographs I collected throughout the years 1999 and 2000

My Autograph collection Part1 (1998 -1999)

Stephen J. Cannell - Co-Creator of "the Rockford Files"

Jack Lemmon and James Garner ( My Fellow Americans )

1994 CBS Reunion movies cast photo 1

Very RARE - Noah Beery Jr. ( Joseph "Rocky" Rockford )

1995 CBS Reunion cast Autographs

Golf ball autographed by James Garner

James Garner as ' Nichols '

With the invention of Ebay and my new interest in Autograph collecting, 1998-1999 was to be two of the best years in my Rockford fanhood. The reason? Well, the tv Re-union movies were still being produced and were airing throughout the year, and the activity on the Yahoo Rockford site was very busy with fans. I had also completed " the Rockford Files Soundtrack" for myself, and again through Ebay, I was about to meet my first real link to James Garner himself. (more about that in future posts) Enjoy!

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Firebird...covered in the London Free Press!

Sun, June 12, 2005

Rockford fan opens Bristow files

By James Reaney

I always knew there had to be at least one other Jim Rockford fan somewhere in London.
But I never would have expected that fan to be as coolly cultish about his Rockford fixation as Darin Bristow.
A man of many accomplishments, Bristow was first taken with the 1970s TV show starring the great James Garner as the laidback private detective when he was a kid growing up in Nelson Park. It led him to a Rockford life in which he has the same car, a 1979 Firebird, as the detective -- and the same licence plate. He has met Garner and provided the striking cover for a new book on the show and its star.
"Of all the things I've done, I have to say I'm proudest of the book. It a very personal thing," Bristow says of his depiction of Garner as Rockford and that Firebird with the 853 OKG plate on the cover of Thirty Years of The Rockford Files by Ed Robertson. The book includes details such as the revelation that David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, wrote scripts for The Rockford Files starting in 1976 -- often featuring mobsters as quirky and maniacal as the celebrated Sopranos.
"Rockford? Me . . . but more so Garner," Bristow free-associates just after he's identified his own father with Rocky, the private eye's fictional father played by Noah Beery on the TV series.
Bristow has a few other things going on in his life. Now of Burlington, he has worked for Toronto animation firm Nelvana for about 11 years. He has just worked on the Emmy-winning series Rolie Polie Olie for Disney. He is engaged to Tammie, a firefighter, a world champ in TSN's firefighting combat challenge and a Canadian female enduro dirt bike racing champ.
Bristow attended H. B. Beal secondary school for art and went to Oakville's Sheridan College twice. He studied classical (or hand-drawn) animation at Sheridan, graduating in 1995. He returned to Sheridan in 1998-1999 to study computer animation. Nelvana's 3-D department --
"a perfect mix of drawing and digital" -- beckoned. He's so busy that last week's scheduled visit to display his animation and drawings on his old turf, Lord Nelson public school, had to be postponed until the fall.
But all we could talk about was Rockford. Bristow has actually met Garner, the U.S. TV and film actor whose brilliantly relaxed style has only recently begun to win him long overdue honours. Like Garner, Rockford relied on subtlety and smarts to solve most of his cases.
Bristow's parents contributed to his first taste of Rockford. As a kid, he was told not to watch The Dukes of Hazzard because his folks were shocked at the shamelessly bad driving displayed on the show. So, the young Darin and his pals tuned into The Rockford Files -- where the reckless driving seemed to have escaped his parents' notice.
Much later on, Bristow found the theme music on The Rockford Files pulling him to a TV set. He was soon hooked on reruns. He also came to admire Garner for his skill, loyalty, humility -- and tenacity. "He's the only actor to sue two Hollywood studios and win," Bristow says. (Garner engaged in bitter courtroom battles when studios tried to short-change him on both the Maverick and Rockford TV series).
Fan met hero in 2001 when Bristow had just started a job in California. He was living around the corner from a hotel where the star was arriving to give an award to another icon, Clint Eastwood. The two have stayed in touch and Garner has signed a number of Bristow's book cover illustrations and sent him a Rockford Files crew jacket.
Only once did fandom lead to friction. After seeking a Firebird like the man's for years, Bristow spied one on a Hamilton Road lot. It was a steal at $900.
Not so fast, said his folks. They hated that money pit of a Firebird. Relations cooled for a time.
Bristow stayed true to his gas-guzzling beauty -- even if it was made for Rockford's California and not Canadian winters. He found a matching interior off an old Camaro at Corey auto wreckers. Still missing were the seats. His hunt continued.
Meanwhile, Bristow's dad started a job teaching auto mechanics at the Wheable adult education centre. He called his son over to Wheable one day to make the perfect peace offering. There, apparently hidden under a tarp for years, were two red '79 Firebird seats. "He goes, 'I guess you were supposed to get that car,' " Bristow smiles.
Rocky and Rockford couldn't have played it any better.

What: Thirty Years of The Rockford Files: An Inside Look at America's Greatest Detective Series by U.S. TV expert Ed Robertson. Darin Bristow, a former Londoner and huge Rockford fan, provided the cover illustration and other drawings for the book.
Price: $32 US plus handling, shipping
Sales: Available through orders at bookstores or by calling 1-800-288-4677 or via

You only go around once...'s the deal: I've somehow been raised to expect more than most I guess. Ever since I can remember I've always expected more than what life puts in front of me. Family, friends, hobbies, relationships...a woman...everything. 'Is 10 the highest? Do the make ones that go to 11??'

I always have to leave my mark...the "Darin was here" type of idea. It has gotten me into trouble sometimes, but having somewhat high expectations has usually driven me beyond 'the norm' to experience some really neat things in my life.

So...when my interests turned towards an Emmy winning '70's detective show that left the airwaves 13 years before I even watched a full episode, I kept my eye out of for anything related to it.

You only go around once I figure, so why not push it?? When I get hooked on something, I commit to it because of my need to find out why should Rockford be any different??!

Some people read books...

Not me...after I read them I must become friends with the author!

Some people have a favourite band...

Not enough for me...I must meet ALL my fav bands, shake ALL their hands, and then somehow end up doing some personal artwork for them and in turn have them band thank ME!

Some people like movies...

Not good enough for me until I go to Hollywood, live in Beverly Hills, and work on a movie...

Some people have a favourite TV show...

Again, not good enough for me until I buy and read everything related, meet it's lead actors, collect their autographs, restore and drive the same 1979 car, have the car be showcased in the newspaper, own the same plate number, do the artwork and all covers for the official book of the series, get it autographed 4 times by the star, have him thank ME by sending me 4 bottles of his private wine, and then design and distribute DVD/CD artwork for hundreds of fellow fans.

Insane or Driven?.....dunno yet...but it sure was a hell of a lot of fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Autographs enter the picture...

This is the autograph that started it all...

A few years pass...I bought magazines here and there with Garner on them and my eyes became trained to find the words "rockford" or garner" anywhere. Then, just after the success of the Maverick feature film and the Rockford TV movies that debuted in 1994, I began seeing more autographed pictures of him show up as his popularity grew again. This one pictured above, I couldn't pass up buying as it came with a dress tie that Mr. Garner had designed for a charity benefit. After the lady who was selling this picture saw how big of a fan I was, she reached behind the sales desk into a drawer and said : " here, since you're such a big fan of his, why don't you have this tie as well? " She then threw the tie in for free with the pic. I've never seen one like this since. It actually says Mr. Garner designed it on the reverse.

My first piece for the collection...

..was pretty much this: " Rockford phile" by David Martindale 1993

I was in Toronto looking around the Worlds's Biggest Bookstore when I stumbled upon this book. Very rare...I only saw it that one time and have never seen it since. Perhaps only once on Ebay. Very cool book and VERY hard to find.

Welcome to " The Blogford Files" the tone, leave your name and message...I'll get back to you...

Welcome to...."The Blogford Files".

Since 1993 I have been a fan of the classic TV series " The Rockford Files". Over the past 14 years, driven by my interest in the show, it's enduring impact on television history, and the enjoyment of following the career of legendary actor James Garner, I have amassed a fairly large and interesting collection of Rockford/Garner related memorbilia. This site will follow my journey from casual fan of the show, to being the artist who designed the cover and inner artwork of the the 2005 best-selling book: "30 Years of: the Rockford Files" by Ed Robertson. For this book, James Garner himself sent me personal notes of thanks, and 4 bottles of his private vineyard wine called "Chateau Jimbo". This site will also follow the growth of my Rockford collection, from 1 magazine, to owning 1979 Firebird with plate number 853 OKG. I will also include ancedotes of interest with each item posted, and stories of my connection to the Rockford crew members.

How this all started...'thank you A&E'...

One evening in the fall of 1992, as I tuned in to A&E to get my daily dose of David Letterman repeats, I was met instead by a familiar opening theme to TV show I'd heard many times during my youth. A theme that always seemed to be playing somewhere in the background of my early childhood growing up in the mid 1970's. I was too young to watch the show during it's 1974-1980 run, but it's tv theme always reminds me, even to this day, of my parents' parties or card nights. I remember it's opening theme playing on my parent's black and white tv set many times, and my dad laughing at this very humorous actor...James Garner. Now in my mid-30's, I look back and realize my affection to this show, is more or less a deep-rooted affection of childhood, and perhaps an even deeper rooted fear of growing up. Those seemingly endless summer days filled with laughter and fun, most easily return to my minds' eye with the opening bars of Mike Post's greatest TV theme...the Rockford Files. I guess as long as Mr.Garner keeps releasing movies, and Rockford episodes keep popping up on TV, those fondly remembered childhood days of mine aren't really that far away...

I hope you enjoy this site and my collection, and please feel free to post your thoughts or comments as well!