Warner Bros.

If we could use a word to describe James Garner perfectly, it would be "vocal." The Western star often spoke about the nature of the genre, television's responsibility, productions he regretted being a part of, and so much more. If he had something to say, you would hear it, whether you wanted to or not.

Garner knew he was a rare talent, and as his success expanded, he made it his mission to limit what kind of productions he gave his energy to.

"I don't do futuristic pictures, and I don't do horror," the actor told the Detroit Free Press in a 1981 interview. By this time, Garner had already established himself as a star in television and film.

"That seems to be all they're making these days. I don't have a particular sense of my image, but whatever I do has to have a sense of humor about it."

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He continued, "There is nothing worse than the steely-eyed sheriff. Brave bores me. Smart intrigues me. I'm very wry and off-beat. I'm not going to make you fall down and laugh. I don't do comedy; I do humor."

Garner earned the right to decline productions in genres he felt weren't his style. His years of hard work and dedication to perfecting his craft came after he lived a farm life as a child and attended a one-room country schoolhouse.

According to Raymond Strait's book James Garner: A Biography, he and his two brothers often rode their family's horse to school, which was a mile away from their home; sometimes, they walked.

"We were poor, I guess, but I never saw it that way. We were what we were, and that was that. We didn't know anything different. It didn't mean a thing that we didn't have anything. Nobody had anything. I'm sure it has impacted my life in some way. But I'm not sure how."

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