Stuart Margolin, Emmy-winning ‘Rockford Files’ actor, dies at 82


Stuart Margolin, a veteran actor and tv director who gained back-to-back Emmy Awards for “The Rockford Recordsdata,” by which he performed the weaselly pal — and comically dishonest foil — of James Garner’s struggling detective character, died Dec. 12 at a hospice middle in Staunton, Va. He was 82.

The trigger was issues of pancreatic most cancers, mentioned his spouse, Patricia Margolin.

Mr. Margolin, a craggy-faced character actor who was usually forged as authority figures, debuted on-screen in 1961 and remained a TV mainstay for six many years. He appeared in episodes of “Gunsmoke” and “M.A.S.H.” in addition to newer sequence like “The X-Recordsdata” and “30 Rock,” as a World Warfare II veteran believed to be the potential organic father of community head Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin).

However he remained best-known for enjoying Evelyn “Angel” Martin on NBC’s “The Rockford Recordsdata,” which ran from 1974 to 1980. Departing from detective-drama conventions, the sequence starred Garner as Jim Rockford, a down-and-out non-public investigator exasperated by criminals, cash troubles, crooked cops and his shifty good friend Angel, with whom he as soon as shared a cell at San Quentin.

Mr. Margolin “radiated sleaziness and personified sly treachery with a successful allure,” creator George V. Higgins wrote within the Wall Avenue Journal. He was twice honored with the Emmy for excellent supporting actor in a drama sequence, in 1979 and 1980, and later reprised the function in a sequence of TV films, along with reuniting with Garner for the short-lived western present “Bret Maverick.”

“Angel is a weasel,” Garner wrote in a 2011 memoir, “The Garner Recordsdata.” “He double-crosses Rockford repeatedly. He’s all the time getting in hassle, and Rockford all the time has to bail him out. … I confess that I’ve by no means understood why Rockford likes Angel a lot, as a result of he’s rotten to the core. However there’s one thing lovable about him. I don’t know what it’s, but it surely’s all Stuart’s doing.”

Mr. Margolin began appearing at age 8, taking part in Puck in an area theater manufacturing of “A Midsummer Night time’s Dream.” However he “had no nice burning want to be an actor,” he recalled, and as a substitute “had inclinations to point out off, make a spectacle of myself” — an inclination towards mischief-making that resulted in his getting kicked out of public colleges in Texas and working up a “lengthy record of site visitors violations.”

By his early 20s, he was channeling that power into artwork, transferring into appearing, songwriting and ultimately screenwriting and directing. Mr. Margolin wrote the screenplay for the made-for-TV film “The Ballad of Andy Crocker” (1969), one of many first movies to handle the struggles of Vietnam veterans returning dwelling from struggle, and helmed episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Present,” “Marvel Lady” and “Touched by an Angel,” amongst many others. He obtained an Emmy nomination in 1987 for his work on “The Tracey Ullman Present.”

Naturally, he additionally directed a pair episodes of “The Rockford Recordsdata,” after overcoming skepticism from community executives who questioned his efficiency as Angel.

“NBC didn’t need Stuart within the present, however I used to be loopy about him,” Garner wrote in his memoir. The actors had first labored collectively on “Nichols,” a western that aired for one season, with Mr. Margolin taking part in a backstabbing deputy to Garner’s motorcycle-riding sheriff — basically an early model of his Angel character.

After Mr. Margolin appeared within the pilot of “Rockford,” Garner continued, “NBC mentioned they didn’t like his efficiency, however we put him in a second episode anyway, then a 3rd. NBC nonetheless didn’t need him and so they instructed us point-blank to not use him once more. Then he acquired an Emmy nomination.

“ ‘Do you assume we are able to get him for subsequent yr?’ they mentioned.”

Mr. Margolin quickly signed “a fairly whole lot” with the community, as Garner instructed it, and appeared in practically 40 episodes of the present.

The second of 4 kids, Stuart Margolin was born in Davenport, Iowa, on Jan. 31, 1940. His mom was a homemaker, and his father was a salesman — his wares ranged from air conditioners to commercials within the Yellow Pages — whose work led the household to maneuver to Dallas and Scottsdale, Ariz., the place Mr. Margolin graduated from highschool.

After transferring to California to review appearing on the Pasadena Playhouse, he made his TV debut within the sitcom “Mrs. G. Goes to School.” His older brother, Arnold, additionally acquired into tv, working as an govt producer and author on “Love, American Type,” an anthology comedy sequence that aired from 1969 to 1974. Mr. Margolin turned a sequence common and launched his directing profession on the present.

His different directing credit included “The Glitter Dome” (1984), an HBO crime drama starring Garner, Margot Kidder and John Lithgow, which Mr. Margolin additionally co-produced, acted in and — in his down time — wrote the soundtrack for.

By then he had branched into films, showing reverse Charles Bronson in “The Stone Killer” (1973) and “Dying Want” (1974) and with James Caan in “The Gambler” (1974). He was additionally a mill foreman in Terrence Malick’s twilight-drenched traditional “Days of Heaven” (1978) and appeared in comedies by Blake Edwards, together with as Julie Andrews’s secretary in “S.O.B.” (1981) and a bumbling prison in “A Wonderful Mess” (1986).

His marriage to Joyce Eliason, a author and producer, led to divorce. In 1982, he married Patricia Dunne, many years after they met at a Texas courtroom, the place Mr. Margolin was a defendant and Dunne was a “juvenile decide,” collaborating in a reform initiative by which younger individuals had been judged by their friends.

Along with his spouse, survivors embody three stepchildren: Max Martini, an actor; Christopher Martini, a director; and Michelle Martini, a dressing up designer; in addition to two brothers, a sister and 4 grandsons. His stepsons had been each concerned within the 2020 film “What the Night time Can Do,” which Mr. Margolin wrote and starred in.

In a cellphone interview, his spouse mentioned that Mr. Margolin had been engaged on a musical, “Sweet Barr,” primarily based on the lifetime of a notorious stripper and burlesque dancer he interviewed many years earlier. The actor and dancer apparently hit it off: Mr. Margolin instructed the Toronto Star in 1989 that he and Barr as soon as acquired so drunk in Los Angeles that he tried to examine himself right into a hospital at 4 a.m., hours earlier than he was presupposed to report back to the set of “The Rockford Recordsdata” to play Angel.

Happily, the con-artist half was removed from his most demanding function, even when it was one among his most fulfilling.

“I used to be so blotto,” he mentioned with fun. “They simply instructed me to stroll it off … so I walked onto the set that morning, did a take and so they cherished it. What different half might you do this?”

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