Telling true tales of her charity, in the name of her famous father…
Honoured to introduce the lovely Gigi Garner and her heartwarming tribute to her father, the actor James Garner and his love for rescue animals.
Say the name James Garner, and my younger (and older) self would be super excited. This after remembering him as that charismatic and handsome leading character in many a film or TV Show. Be it Jim Rockford from TV’s The Rockford Files (1974-80) or the family man in the movie, The Thrill of it All (1963) Garner was part of my telly viewing. Now of course his television show is one of legendary heights be it that theme tune, those messages on the answer phone or even it’s now recognisable guest stars (to this wee blogger anyway). These shows with guest appearances with everyone from Lauren Bacall to Lindsay Wagner and Ed Harris to Larry Hagman. But more of that show another day…
So it was crazy that after exchanging 280 letters at a time over a certain social media channel that I “talked” to his daughter, Gigi… yet it happened. So over time, I learnt about Gigi’s heartwarming charity helping rescue dogs, The James Garner Animal Rescue Fund. Here Gigi tells us more of the charity she created to honour her father’s legacy, in an exclusive interview here on Realweegiemidget Reviews…
Can you tell me more about how you decided to pay tribute your dad with this particular type of charity?
When my father actor James Garner passed away at the age of 86 on July 19th, 2014, there was no funeral, no memorial service or any way for his fans to pay their respects. Perhaps somewhat difficult to understand, my father did not want anybody making a fuss over him. There was also no charitable foundation set up in his name and it took a while for me to finally figure out how I wanted to genuinely honor his legacy. Since my dad was a huge animal lover and I have been rescuing dogs for many years, it seemed to make sense and a natural fit.
Tell me more about this charity…
It is called the JAMES GARNER ANIMAL RESCUE FUND aka JGARF. I try to deal with emergent situations, mostly animals on death row. I help fund and coordinate rescues, surgeries, etc… Funds raised through donations are used to aid rescue organisations, shelters, individuals, fosters and vets with:
● Medical care
● Pet supplies
● And anything else that is needed!
Did your dad’s family own rescued animals as a child? Can you tell us more about that?
My dad did rescue animals during his childhood in Norman, Oklahoma. His first dog was named GINGER. I believe he found her when he was about 11 years old.
I loved reading about Nicky aka Nicotine, can you tell me more of about this dog and your dad’s story?
Nicky was just a scruffy little puppy who wandered up to my dad’s motorhome in the middle of the desert when he was trying to quit smoking. He and his best buddy parked in the middle of nowhere so he could not get to any cigarettes even if he wanted to! He named him NICKY short for NICOTINE…
What memories have you from your childhood have you regarding your dad and his love for animals?
The only time I ever saw my dad cry was when our dog Cherokee ran out in front of his car and he accidentally hit him. He was devastated but thankfully our beloved dog made a quick recovery.
Did any of your dad’s dogs appear with him in his movies or TV?
No, but he did work with dogs, cats, horses and camels!
I noticed you had a rescue dog yourself who you trained to work in pet therapy. Can you tell me more on this? Can others get involved with this therapy with their own pets and how?
I had a black lab rescue named Katie who I trained to work as a pet therapy dog at Scripps Hospital. She was wonderful with all the patients and they would light up when she came into the room. Many health care facilities have animal therapy programs. They all have different requirements but working at a hospital is like being a hospital employee.
Can you tell your most heartwarming stories regarding your saved rescue dogs?
I currently have two rescues at home and I rescued my pit mix Rocky in honor of the memory of a dog named Lennox from Belfast, Ireland who was murdered simply because he simply “LOOKED” like a pitbull. I wanted to find a dog who looked like Lennox and needed to be rescued the most. He was a former bait dog from San Bernadino with his teeth knocked out, broken ribs and his tail broken in three places. Rocky and Angel (who was abandoned for 9 months) are the most loved and spoiled pups on the block!
If you got a one million dollars donation to the charity, how would you spend it?
GREAT QUESTION! EDUCATION IS CRITICAL! Number one priority would be education and action regarding spay and neuter. We must gain control over the population problem because millions of perfectly adoptable animals are being murdered in kill shelters simply because there are not enough homes for them. 5,500 a day in America.
Education regarding animal abuse must also be addressed! Significant research backs up the finding that there is a direct link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans. This includes child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent behavior. It is an important indicator that must not be ignored. Animal abusers are five times as likely to harm other humans. Education is key to turn our world into a more humane place for all living creatures.
I also have many rescue partners who deserve a serious helping hand! I have developed many relationships over the years with other dedicated rescuers all over the world. I have rescued dogs from Thailand and flown them to the states to get them a true loving family instead of being “on the menu” in their own country. I also want to help rescues in rural areas, especially in Oklahoma which is my father’s home State. He was very loyal and I know he would like that.
How can people donate to this charity?
People can help me, help them by donating through my website www.JGARF.org and clicking the DONATE button, sending a donating through PAYPAL Mavrock1@aol.com or sending a check to:
8149 Santa Monica Blvd. #125
Los Angeles, CA 90046
I also have some great official original JAMES GARNER merchandise to benefit the charity at:: https://teespring.com/stores/official-james-garner-items
How can people take on a rescue animal?
They can go to their local kill shelter and adopt an at risk animal. If anybody wants to foster or adopt an animal, they are welcome to email me at Mavrock1@aol.com or contact me through TWITTER @MavrocksGirl and I will be happy to assist them!
I now urge you now to look at Gigi’s site as you remember this passionate actor, father and animal lover. Just by taking just a few moments out of your day… and perhaps donate, buy some merchandise or read those heartwarming stories of one actor, his family and their rescues.
A wee disclaimer and personal thank you to Gigi Garner. Financial compensation was not received for this post. I would also like to add that Gigi kindly personally agreed to me using these pictures of her and her father, James Garner in my blog. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.