James Garner gambles on disclosure in "The Garner Files"

LAS VEGAS - JULY 27: Actor James Garner competes in the 2006 World Series of Poker media/celebrity event at the Rio Hotel & Casino July 27, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The WSOP no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event begins on June 28. () Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Actor James Garner competes in the 2006 World Series of Poker media/celebrity event at the Rio Hotel & Casino July 27, 2006, in Las Vegas.
Actor James Garner competes in the 2006 World Series of Poker media/celebrity event at the Rio Hotel & Casino July 27, 2006, in Las Vegas.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

CBS/AP) "Something funny happens as you get older,'' writes 83-year-old actor James Garner in his memoir with Jon Winokur, "The Garner Files: A Memoir."

"You don't hold back so much," he said. So, what secrets did Garner disclose in the book to be published Tuesday by Simon & Schuster?

Well, for starters, he smoked pot for most of his adult life and even did a little cocaine with John Belushi. He's a bleeding-heart Democrat who considers Adlai Stevenson the most intelligent man to have run for president, with Barack Obama a close second.

Garner calls his friend Steve McQueen an insecure poseur and not much of an actor. He labels Charles Bronson, another co-star from the 1963 movie "The Great Escape," bitter and belligerent. Many other people in Garner's life receive nothing but praise.

The amiable actor traces his career from a hardscrabble childhood in Depression-era Oklahoma and a combat stint in Korea through more than 50 movies and hundreds of TV appearances. He gained fame in 1957 in the TV Western "Maverick," in which he played Bret Maverick, one of two handsome, well-dressed gambling brothers who traveled the West in search of a good game. Actor Jack Kelly played his brother, Bart. The series lasted six seasons.

Garner returned to TV after a string of big-screen hits to star in a short-lived 1971 series "Nichols" and then to play private eye Jim Rockford, in "The Rockford Files," which aired from 1974 to 1980.

Garner rates only two of his movies as excellent ("The Americanization of Emily" and "The Notebook"). Some he considers pretty good ("Grand Prix" and "Murphy's Romance"), but most strike him as average and a few as downright awful. He also proud of some made-for-TV movies like "Promise" and "My Name Is Bill W."

  • CBS News Staff

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