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Rockford Computer Repair

Jim Rockford, played by James Gardner, spent five years in prison for an armed robbery which he didn't commit and for which, he was later pardoned.

In 1974 Rockford arrived on our TV screens, negating our preconceived ideas that PIs were suave, debonair and earned a lot of money.

Rockford was not very good at investigating and avoided work when he could. He lived in a trailer and his car was an old Pontiac Firebird. Each episode began with the playing of an answer phone message which went "This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and number and I'll get back to you." This was followed by some sort of threat from a creditor, often with regard to the repossession of the Pontiac. Each message was different and had nothing to do with the plot of the episode.

Jim's father, Rocky, (played by Noah Beery Jr.) sometimes helped out with cases but often tried to persuade Jim to give up detecting to become a long distance truck driver, following in his own footsteps.

As with every private detective, Rockford had an inside man at the Los Angeles Police Department. Sgt. Dennis Becker (played by Joe Santos) did Rockford's legwork looking up criminal histories and number plates and in return Jim often credited him with solving a case, which helped Becker's career no end.

Sgt. Becker also took the part of Jim's guardian angel when information provided by Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin), one of Jim's prison cellmates, caused more trouble than it provided answers. This was a pretty frequent occurrence and when it resulted in Jim's arrest, he would call upon his lawyer Beth Davenport (played by Gretchen Corbett). Beth was a one-time girlfriend but the emphasis became more on the "friend".

Rockford only took on a case when the financial pressure from the answer phone became too great and clients would only come to Rockford as a last resort. He would take on a case which appeared to be quite simple, but of course, it never was. His specialization was cases which had been closed, unsolved, by the police and it was the situations which evolved from the apparently straightforward cases which caught the imagination of the viewing public.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Private Investigators