James Garner as Jim Rockford
TV Guide (June 2, 1979)
One of the most popular actors in film and television for a couple of decades, James Garner naturally graced the cover of TV Guide numerous times–he was, after all, James Garner. He appeared as the star of Maverick and The Rockford Files, of course, but he also made the cover for made-for-television movies like Promise (1986, with James Woods) and Heartsounds (1984, with Mary Tyler Moore), mini-series like Space (1985, with Blair Brown and Harry Hamlin) and even the short-lived quasi-western Nichols from the early seventies.
But maybe my favourite cover–and a testament to his popularity is the June 2, 1979 cover, by illustrator Bernie Fuchs. What a great illustration of Garner as Rockford—the raised eyebrows, the slight bemused smirk and the pained expression really captured something essential about the character. There’s something surprisingly heroic, and even dignified about the pose. Even more impressive, perhaps, is that TV Guide actually paid an artist some bucks, instead of just recycling a freebie studio still provided by the studio or network.
The original illustration (right) was done in acrylic and pencil on canvas, and measures 13.25″ x 20.75.” If you’ve got a blank space on your wall, you can have it for about 6000 smackeroos, but you better act quickly–that was the going price on 1stDibs.com, as of June 2021, when I first posted this.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Bernie Fuchs (1932-2009) was an American illustrator known for advertising art, magazine illustration and portraiture, including several U.S. presidents and a 1998 series of U.S. postage stamps honoring folk singers Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, and Josh White.