There have been lots of private investigator shows in the history of television. But no P.I. was cooler than Jim Rockford.
The Rockford Files premiered in 1974 and stayed on NBC for six seasons. James Garner (Great American Things, October 30, 2009) had experienced success with Maverick during America’s obsession with westerns, and was looking for a more contemporary character. He found it in Rockford, created by producers Roy Huggins of Maverick and Stephen J. Cannell, fresh from the Jack Webb empire.
Rockford was an ex-con, wrongly convicted of armed robbery and paroled, who eked out a living at his dilapidated trailer on the beach at Malibu. Probably the most inspired casting for the show was Stuart Margolin as “Angel” Martin, Jim’s former cellmate. Margolin drew such a wonderful character that I can still hear him saying “Jimmy…Jimmy” thirty years later.
As with many classic shows, there are specific elements I remember with special fondness. For example, I wanted to drive a Pontiac Firebird like the one Jim drove. I remember the answering machine message that opened each show. And I remember the show’s theme, penned by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter, that was released as a single and went to number 10 on the charts…