One thing that sucks about being a fan of old shows is watching all of the stars disappear from this earth.

"The Rockford Files" aired from 1974-1980, and then had 8 TV movies in the mid-1990s.

The cast of "Rockford" was unusual, in that it had only one actor who reliably appeared in each episode -- James Garner, playing Jim Rockford. However, there was a supporting cast which popped up in a lot of episodes, consisting of Noah Beery Jr (playing his father "Rocky"), Gretchen Corbett (playing Beth Davenport, his ex-girlfriend and lawyer), Joe Santos (playing Lieutenant Becker, his exasperated friend at the LAPD), and Stuart Margolin (playing his weasely ex-con, low-rent-scammer friend, Angel Martin).

Angel was a great character. While low-level criminal, albeit charming comic relief characters were mainstay in '70s and '80s detective shows, Angel was the most interesting. He was extremely selfish, loyal to no one but himself, and probably willing to scam his own grandma, he would eventually grow on you, and you'd always be happy to see the "and Stuart Margolin as Angel" in the opening credits.

Angel got Rockford into hot water time and time again during the series, and showed little remorse, often lamenting about his own misfortune instead. Other times, he was willing to turn on Rockford to save his own skin.



As James Garner himself said about the character, "I confess Iíve never understood why Rockford likes Angel so much, because heís rotten to the core. But thereís something lovable about him. I donít know what it is, but itís all Stuartís doing."

Angel did have one positive in Rockford's friendship with him. Whenever Rockford needed someone to help him with a con or scheme, he knew Angel was always willing, and of course never had a moral objection to whatever needed to be done.

Stuart Margolin did a great job playing this especially weasely character, making him both funny and endearing. His short, skinny stature, frizzy hair and beard, and sniveling voice made the character perfect.

Margolin himself was younger than the character was supposed to be. Born in January 1940, Margolin was only 34 when The Rockford Files began, but he was supposed to be in his 40s like Rockford. This is why many people perceived that he would have been already dead, or at least in his 90s. Margolin died about a month before his 83rd birthday.

He got the job on Rockford thanks to a prior series he had with James Garner, a failed western series called "Nichols", which aired between September 1971 and March 1972. He played a similar character to Angel, except on Nichols he was a deputy sheriff named Mitch. He was a natural choice to keep acting alongside Garner two years later, once again playing a weasely character.

Margolin had only sporadic acting jobs after Rockford, usually appearing in small roles in film or guest starring roles in TV series. He also got involved in theater acting, and in fact did a play with fellow Rockford star Gretchen Corbett in the 2010s.

Aside from Noah Beery Jr, who passed away in 1994 and never made it into the subsequent Rockford TV movies, the remainder of the regular cast was still alive as recently as 8 1/2 years ago.

However, they fell quickly after that. Garner passed in July 2014, Santos died in 2016, and now Margolin is gone. The only remaining regular cast member alive is Gretchen Corbett, who is now 77. Like Margolin, Corbett also played a character who was presumed to be older than her actual age (28 at the beginning of the series), so again many people assume her to be older than she is.

The Rockford Files and Hawaii Five-O were my two favorite 1970s dramas. All of the Five-O regular cast members are now dead.