Remembering James Garner at the Disneyland Resort

George Savvas

by , Director, Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

Over the weekend we learned of the passing of Oscar-nominated actor James Garner. In an award-winning career that spanned six decades, his work with Disney included The Castaway Cowboy and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Today we’re looking back at a special memory Mr. Garner made at the Disneyland Resort.

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting James Garner a few times during his run on the ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules.” He was friendly, funny and obviously very much a grandfather figure to his younger co-stars.


In September 2004 he appeared with the cast of the show at an event at Disney California Adventure park called ABC Primetime Preview Weekend.


During this event, I gave Mr. Garner a copy of a photo we have in our archives of him with his wife, Lois, celebrating their daughter Gigi’s birthday at Disneyland in 1965. We believe the photo was taken at the Tahitian Terrace.


When I handed him this photo backstage before a media appearance, Mr. Garner said, “Oh my, it’s my Gigi! Oh, I can’t wait to show this to Lois!” He had never seen the photo before, and he thanked me warmly before excitedly gathering the cast around him to see the picture.

What he surely couldn’t have known that afternoon was that while he was recalling a fond Disney memory from long ago, he had just made a brand new one for me.


  • Thanks for sharing such a nice story and some great pictures.

    My dad never missed an episode of “The Rockford Files” on t.v. and was a big fan of Mr. Garner. I was usually in the room too when the show was on so I came to love it too and also became a fan. Learning of this passing brought a tear to my eye.

  • Mr Garner was a class act and always one of my favorites the news is very sad,but it is the circle of life …miss ya mr maverick

  • A very nice story. I remember watching him as a kid on Rockford Files. He will be missed.

  • I was always a fan of James Garner. Many of my favorite movies and TV shows of his were made before I was old enough to understand them, but were always a part of my life. Rest in peace Mr. Garner.

  • That’s a special and touching little story. Thank you for sharing it.

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