NBC-TV's The Rockford Files (1974-80) starred James Garner as private investigator Jim Rockford. Rockford Files super trivia revolves around series creator Roy Huggins, Jim's tan Pontiac Firebird, guest stars Tom Selleck and Isaac Hayes, the spinoff show Richie Brockelman Private Investigator, Stuart Margolin's Angel Martin and TV Guide reviews.
NBC-TV's The Rockford Files ran from 1974-80. James Garner headed the cast as private eye James Scott Rockford, with Noah Beery Jr. (Joseph "Rocky" Rockford), Joe Santos (Sgt./Lt. Dennis Becker), Gretchen Corbett (Beth Davenport), Stuart Margolin (Evelyn "Angel" Martin) and Bo Hopkins (John Cooper) in support through the years.
Here are 25 super TV trivia items from The Rockford Files. "This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message. I'll get back to you." [Beep]. "Mr. Rockford, Miss Miller of the Bartlett Book Club. 'Great Detectives of America' is not in stock, so we sent you 'Cooking Made Easy.' Hope you enjoy it!"
1. Jim Rockford drove a tan Pontiac Firebird with California license plates 853 OKG. His usual fee, when he was able to collect it: $200 a day plus expenses.
James Garner as James Scott Rockford - NBC-TV
2. Beth Davenport was Rockford's attorney and sometime girlfriend. She tooled around town in a red Porsche.
3. Richie Brockelman (Dennis Dugan), Rockford's young private investigator friend, drove a 1965 candy red Ford Mustang convertible with California license plates 965 OKK.
4. Rockford carried a mini printing press in his car in order to instantly produce phony business cards. The enterprising private eye impersonated insurance agents, oil tycoons, IRS agents, funeral home directors, cops and government officials. Among Rockford's aliases were Jim Taggert, Corky Coogan, Roger Martel, Larry Metcalf, Aaron Kiel, Jim Poquette, Jim Slate, George Wheeler, Lyle Sayers, Jim Calmet, Ace Bredeen, Zachary Lyons Jr., Chuck Simms, Edgar Blasco, Harvey Eubanks, James "Rock" Sanderson, Terry Stovall, George "Buck" Greenleaf, Jimmy Joe Meeker, Mr. Traynor, Mr. Van Street, J.W. Farnsworth, Don Bates, Mr. Jerrel and Mr. Gilson.
5. James Scott Garner/James Scott Rockford storyline tie-ins: Both had served in the Korean War with the U.S. Army's 5th Regimental Combat Team. Both had been wounded in Korea and awarded the Purple Heart. Both had once worked as carpet layers.
6. Angel Martin, Rockford's weaselly buddy, had served two years in federal prison for desertion under fire during the Korean War.
7. Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, Jim's retired trucker father, had served in the Seabees.
James Garner, left, with Noah Beery Jr. - NBC-TV
8. Angel Martin's favorite sandwich: pork sausage on raisin bread.
9. The Sandcastle was the name of the bar near Rockford's trailer in Malibu, California.
10. Jim Rockford's phone number: 555-2368.
11. Warren Weeks (Ron Rifkin) was Beth Davenport's cousin, appearing in the episode "The Trouble with Warren" (12/24/76). His IQ was 158.
12. Jim Rockford had been wrongly convicted and sent to prison for five years for armed robbery. He later received a full pardon from the governor.
13. Tom Selleck appeared in two episodes of The Rockford Files as private investigator Lance White: "White on White and Nearly Perfect" (10/20/78) and "Nice Guys Finish Dead" (11/16/79). Selleck's Rockford guest appearances led him to be cast in Universal's Magnum, P.I. (1980-88) TV series.
14. Angel Martin owned a 1959 Chevy which he called "Lucille."
15. The Rockford Files produced one spinoff series, the short-lived Richie Brockelman, Private Eye starring Dennis Dugan, which ran for only six episodes in 1978. The Richie Brockelman character had appeared in the Rockford episodes "The House on Willis Avenue" (2/24/78) and "Never Send a Boy King to Do a Man's Job" (3/3/79) . Both segments had originally been aired in an expanded two-hour format.
16. Jim Rockford's nickname was "Hound Dog," a little moniker he had picked up in Korea when Colonel "Howling Mad" Smith had carried the wounded Rockford 15 miles in the snow and Jim had howled like a hound dog with every step. Colonel Smith (Ken Swofford) had appeared in the episode "The Hawaiian Headache" (11/23/79).
17. The creator of The Rockford Files was Roy Huggins (1914-2002). "I came up with the story for the pilot of The Rockford Files," Huggins told author Raymond Strait in James Garner: A Biography (St. Martin's Press, 1985). "Don't believe anything you have heard about how it came about. It came from me. Actually, The Rockford Files was simply Maverick as a modern-day private eye. That's all. Played by the same character."
18. Jack Garner, brother of James Garner, appeared in 24 Rockford episodes, most notably as LAPD Captain McEnroe.
19. The Rockford Files pilot was "Backlash of the Hunter," first aired on NBC Wednesday Night at the Movies on March 27, 1974. Prior to that, the pilot had been screened at ASI, a preview house where new TV shows are viewed by people taken off the street. The test audience had given the Rockford pilot a score in the eighties, which was quite favorable.
20. The Angel Martin character was first seen in episode #16 "Counter Gambit" (1/24/75).
21. Each episode of The Rockford Files was generally filmed in six working days. Two days were filmed at the studio and four days on location, usually near Malibu, California.
22. Isaac Hayes, perhaps best known for his Academy Award-winning song "Theme from Shaft" (1971), appeared as Rockford's old ex-con buddy Gandolph "Gandy" Fitch in three Rockford episodes: "The Hammer of C Block" (1/9/76), "Just Another Polish Wedding" (2/18/77) and "Second Chance" (10/14/77).
Isaac Hayes as Gandolph Fitch - NBC-TV
23. The Rockford Files was introduced in TV Guide's Fall Preview issue of September 7, 1974: "James Garner and Roy Huggins, the actor and producer who combined to bring forth a minor classic called 'Maverick' in 1957, have joined forces again. This time Garner is a private eye. Since obesity, baldness, wheelchairs and dirty raincoats have already been taken, they've made Rockford and ex-con – he spent five years in the slammer on a bum rap. Now his home base is a trailer on the beach, where he gets an occasional assist from his father (Noah Beery)..."
24. Segments of the Rockford episode "So Help Me God" (11/19/76), in which Jim Rockford is jailed for contempt of court and subsequently stabbed by another inmate, were filmed at the federal prison in San Pedro, California.
25. The Rockford Files was reviewed by Cleveland Amory in the December 21, 1974, issue of TV Guide. "This show is, by our figures, the 4618th private-eye show to appear on the air since we went public as a critic. The producers, in a heroic effort to make 'The Rockford Files' different, have given us a hero sandwich – part hero and part antihero..."
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