Police: Movie, TV legend James Garner dies

James Garner SAG award
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TV and movie lovers are mourning the loss of an unforgettable star. James Garner was found dead in his Los Angeles home Saturday evening.

Police say Garner died from natural causes. He was 86 years old.

Most will remember Garner as Jim Rockford, a private investigator NBC drama series "The Rockford files." The role earned him 5 Emmy nominations and a win in 1977.

However, it was something else Garner did that year that Hoosiers will never forget. The avid racing fan drove the Indy 500 Pace Car in 1975, 1977 and 1985.

Hoosier Dave Brown was there. 

"Oh it was pretty exciting. It was neat to be able to see somebody famous, here and drive the pace car, and we knew he was a big racing fan too so it was really enjoyable to see him," Brown said. 

Garner is well-remembered and well-loved at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A veteran security guard tells WTHR that Garner always stayed at the motel next door. The guard says he was generous, always made time for people and signed autographs. Garner used to bring coffee to the security guards.

Garner also shined in his role on the TV Western series "maverick." Newer fans will praise his performance in "The Notebook."

However, he captured the hearts of race fans in 1966 film "Grand Prix." Garner's passion for the sport beamed as he did all his own stunts and racing in the movie.

Hoosiers were lucky enough to see that passion in person.

"It's really sad, he was a big icon here," Brown said. 

Garner also owned the American International Racing team in the late 1960s. In 2004, he won the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.