The charm and humility of fictional private investigator Jim Rockford inspired St. John's actor and writer Allan Hawco when he concocted the character of Jake Doyle. 

James Garner, whose portrayal on The Rockford Files between 1974 and 1980 made him a TV icon, passed away Saturday evening of natural causes in Los Angeles

Hawco, star and co-creator of  Republic of Doyle, loved watching Garner's crime-solving exploits while he was growing up.

James Garner

James Garner, the star of the Rockford Files, was an inspiration for Allan Hawco. (Wyatt Counts/Associated Press)

"As a kid, I was obsessed with The Rockford Files partly because of his (Rockford's) bravado as a TV hero," Hawco told CBC News.

"He was always on the edge of doing the right thing and trying to keep himself out of trouble. No matter what he did he managed to get himself into some situation he didn't want to be in. There was something charming about. It inspired me to create a character like that for myself in Republic of Doyle." 

The ability of Garner to be tough yet vulnerable was another inspiration for Hawco. 

"He had something that very few actors had," said Hawco.

"He was the kind guy who you believed could go in, do the punching and save the day. But at the same time he had such an approach and lack of ego that he was able to be punched and be taken down by the bad guy whenever it was better for the scene. That takes a lack of ego and presence to be the star."

Hawco thinks the Doyle and Rockford characters are also both humble. 

'He was the kind guy who you believed could go in, do the punching and save the day' - Allan Hawco

"Because I was writing my own TV show,  I couldn't with any level of humility have my character always be right, always get the girl or always win the fight," said Hawco. "It just happens that those attributes were the same ones Jim Rockford had."

Hawco never had the opportunity to meet Garner because he was no longer acting when Republic of Doyle launched in 2010.  

Hawco said this was unfortunate because the character of Jake Doyle is in many ways an homage to Jim Rockford. 

"Republic of Doyle has its own flavour," said Hawco. "It's very different from The Rockford Files, but you can definitely see the elements of the integration."

With files from Philip Lee-Shanok