In New Memoir, James Garner Slams Reagan, Other Actors Who Run for Office

James Garner’s memoir “The Garner Files” was published today, and far from being a glossed over look at his career, it’s very much matter of fact.

Although he defends actors who express their political views, he is critical of those who run for office.

“Too many actors have run for office,” he writes. “There’s one difference between me and them: I know I’m not qualified. In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn’t qualified to be governor, let alone president. I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president. My duties consisted of attending meetings and voting. The only thing I remember is that Ronnie never had an original thought and that we had to tell him what to say. That’s no way to run a union, let along a state or a country.”

Garner writes that he was asked to run for Congress in 1962 as a Republican, and “it didn’t stop them when I told them I was a Democrat. …They just thought I could win.” In 1990, Democratic leaders approached him about running for governor of California, but the discussion got to the issue of abortion and Garner says he answered, “I don’t have an opinion, because that’s up to the woman. It has nothing to do with me.” The conversation pretty much stopped there.

Garner is what he calls a “bleeding-heart liberal,” having participated in the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and later advocating for a number of progressive causes. He voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, he writes, but never cast a ballot for a Republican again. He voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and calls him “the most intelligent presidential candidate we’ve ever had. I think Obama runs a close second.”

He’s also critical about Charlton Heston — either as an actor or defender of civil rights. As Garner describes it, Heston appointed himself leader of the Hollywood group that went to the March on Washington, and even tamped down a suggestion by Marlon Brando that the performers chain themselves to the Lincoln Memorial. But the next year, Heston switched parties and backed Barry Goldwater.


Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 11

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Dan Moore says:

    I think taking a North Korean’s bullet in the ass gives the late great James Garner the right to say pretty much anything he wants.

  2. Mike Schmidt says:

    So let me see if I get this… a leftist actor says actors are too dumb to run for office, but that we should trust dumb actors to evaluate candidates and policies and tell us who to vote for. Is that about right?

  3. Ben Frazer says:

    Well these comments prove it if you insult Reagan the conservative trolls come out like you just pissed on the grave of Saint peter……….Reagan was a f***ing moron and ruied this country worst president we ever had

  4. Randy Scheid says:

    Great actor……dumb as a door knob political views. What’s in the water out there?

  5. Alphamare says:

    So, if you don’t toe the Conservative line, you don’t have a right to your opinion? Is that right?
    I don’t remember Al Franken being an ACTOR. What exactly did he appear in? And, I’m sure you are too young to remember the Actor’s Strike of 1960, but I AM. Reagan was SAG President and Garner was a VP. Reagan gave a televised interview, and there were people sitting ALL around him – including Garner – all looking wary and worried. Reagan was stumbling around so much I came away not even knowing what he was trying to say.
    I remember having the same feeling when he was President and giving a speech. He sounded like he didn’t know what his next word was going to be. I also remember his staff running around, doing damage control after he had contradicted himself or pulled something off the wall. I used to wonder who was actually running the country.
    Don’t start telling me what I do and do not remember. I was a voting age adult and considered to be a Conservative myself at that time, born and raised in Texas. I did not vote for Reagan because I didn’t think he was qualified then and still don’t.
    But, EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion, remember?

  6. kalamere says:

    Narcissistic so called “artists” need to find out we don’t give a damn what they think about politics. I’ve washed my hands of all of them. There’s other entertainment beyond “liberals”

  7. So essentially James Garner has a problem not with celebrities who speak up or run for office, but with conservative celebrities who speak up or run for office. Heston going to the March on Washington was fine, but when he turned around and supported Barry Goldwater, it was appalling. Arnold and Reagan weren’t qualified to run a union let alone a executive office, but he was apparently otherwise occupied when it came to talking of Al Franken’s Senate position. Taken all that into account, taking into account just how great a president Reagan was, and taking into account the typical liberal behavior of attacking the person rather than their politics, yeah, I think I’ll take the notion that Reagan was a puppet saying what he was told and file it with Keynesian economics and Marxist laments under the fantasy category.

    • paul schmick says:

      100% agree. The only actors he trashes in his book are conservatives and dead. Bronson, Heston, McQueen, Reagan. His supposed “best friend”, Clint Eastwood gets no trash talk at all, despitr being conservative and a former mayor but thats understandable since Eastwood is still alive.

      • Jerry says:

        Clint Eastwood while not a Hardcore Rightwinger in his heyday was still moderate and would stand up to critique when Republicans messed up and when he didn’t agree with many of their positions. Including Supporting the brady bikl and registering firearms. It hasn’t been until now that Clint is getting old and senile that he stopped caring and started Supporting Drumpf that has made it clear, Clint is no longer the Clint of old.

        Now he’s just your bitter grandpa and has moved further to the right.

        As for James Woods, he’s always been a Looney Tune character extreme right wing supporter.

        Even since he was young and made his first appearance on the 1st Season of the Rockford Files opposite Garner.

        Yet they were lifelong friends, as long as they didn’t start talking Politics I’m sure.

        Because how would they agree on anything? Other than to disagree?

  8. Louise Smith says:

    There have some actors that I have loved, because of the parts they play…however, when they open their mouths and tell the world that they are really airheads, I am disappointed!! There is just some information that the public does NOT need to know…just shut up and act!!

More Biz News from Variety