Saturday, July 26, 2014

What I Learned from James Garner: His career began with a fluke. It was not sustained by flukes.

By Gary North

He starred as Bret Maverick on Maverick. That was a weekly television show, but he was not in it each week. When he was, the ratings went up. What we tend to forget is this: his salary for that show was $500 a week. Even with the purchasing power of the dollar in 1958, that was not a lot of money.

He tried to get more, and he did so by refusing to work. The studio sued him. He sued the studio. He won, and they let him go. That cost Warner Brothers a lot of money. It was really stupid. But it was great for him. His career then took off. He had already made a major breakthrough in the Marlon Brando movie, Sayonara, and his movie career soared. This opened the door to other television stars to make the break, most notably Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood. They escaped from the small screen to the big screen, and they got fabulously wealthy.

I think of the other stars in those weekly Warner Brothers westerns. I think of Ty Hardin. (Who?) I think of Clint Walker. (Who?) They stayed until they ran out of audience. Then they disappeared.

He returned to the small screen, and got even more wealthy: The Rockford Files. That show also ended in a lawsuit. He won. More money came his way.

I did not know until a few years ago what a fluke it was that Garner got onto the small screen. He did it because...

Read the rest here.

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