Maverick (TV Series)
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Maverick TV Series
Maverick - Title Card.jpg
Created byRoy Huggins
StarringJames Garner
Jack Kelly
Roger Moore
Robert Colbert
Theme music composerDavid Buttolph
Paul Francis Webster
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes124
Executive producerWilliam T. Orr
ProducersRoy Huggins
Coles Trapnell

Oren W. Haglund (production manager)

Gordon Bau (make-up)
Production locationCalifornia
Running time60 minutes
Production companyWarner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkABC
Picture format1.33:1 monochrome
Audio formatmonaural
Original releaseSeptember 22, 1957 (1957-09-22) -
April 22, 1962 (1962-04-22)
Preceded byConflict
Followed byThe New Maverick
Young Maverick
Bret Maverick
Related showsCheyenne
Colt .45
The Alaskans
The Rockford Files

Maverick is an American Western dramatic television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins and originally starring James Garner. The show ran for five seasons from September 22, 1957, to July 8, 1962, on ABC.


Maverick initially starred James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart Maverick, and for the remainder of the first three seasons, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode.

The Maverick brothers were poker players from Texas who traveled the American Old West by horseback and stagecoach, and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. Their consciences always trumped their wallets since both Mavericks were intrinsically ethical.

When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute, after which he enjoyed a successful movie career, Roger Moore was added to the cast as cousin Beau Maverick. As before, the two starring Mavericks would generally alternate as series leads, with an occasional "team-up" episode.

Partway through the fourth season, Garner look-alike Robert Colbert replaced Moore and played a third Maverick brother, Brent. No more than two series leads (of the four total for the run of the series) ever appeared together in the same episode, and most episodes featured only one. All two-Maverick episodes included Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick. For the fifth and final season, the show returned to a "single Maverick" format as it had been originally in the first eight episodes, with all the remaining new episodes starring Kelly as Bart. The new episodes, however, alternated with reruns from earlier seasons starring Garner as Bret.

Budd Boetticher directed several of the early episodes of the first season until sharply disagreeing with Huggins about Maverick's philosophy, which resulted in Boetticher assigning Bret Maverick's scripted lines to supporting characters and filming the result, thereby attempting to change the whole series by making Maverick into a standard Western hero as found in the earlier Boetticher-directed series of theatrical films starring Randolph Scott.

Robert Altman wrote and directed the fourth season episode titled "Bolt from the Blue" starring Roger Moore as Beau Maverick.

The show was part of the Warner Bros. array of TV Westerns, which included Cheyenne with Clint Walker, Colt .45 with Wayde Preston, Lawman with John Russell, Bronco with Ty Hardin, The Alaskans with Roger Moore, and Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins.


James Garner as Bret Maverick

James Garner portrayed both Bret Maverick and, in one episode, Beau "Pappy" Maverick.

Bret Maverick is the epitome of a poker-playing rounder, always seeking out high-stakes games and rarely remaining in one place for long. The show is generally credited with launching Garner's career, although he had already appeared in several movies, including Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) with Randolph Scott, and had filmed an important supporting role in Sayonara with Marlon Brando, which wasn't released until December 1957 but had been viewed by Huggins and the Warner Bros. staff casting their new television series. Maverick often bested The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show in the television ratings.[1]

Huggins inverted the usual cowboy hero characteristics familiar to television and movie viewers of the time. Bret Maverick was vocally reluctant to risk his life, though he typically ended up being courageous in spite of himself. He frequently flimflammed adversaries, but only those who deserved it. Otherwise he was honest almost to a fault, in at least one case insisting on repaying a questionable large debt (in "According to Hoyle").

None of the Mavericks were particularly fast draws with a pistol. Bart Maverick once commented to a lady friend, "My brother Bret can outdraw me any day of the week, and he's known as the Second Slowest Gun in the West." However, it was almost impossible for anyone to beat either of them in any sort of a fistfight, perhaps the one cowboy cliché that Huggins left intact (reportedly at the insistence of the studio[]).

By the end of the series run, Garner had appeared in three seasons and a single held-back episode broadcast in the middle of the fourth season. Leaving aside a few introductions of Jack Kelly episodes in the first season shown immediately before the episodes began, Garner appeared in 52 episodes altogether, having a leading role in all but one, "The Jeweled Gun" in the first season, for which Garner and Kelly's roles were switched at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict.

Critics have repeatedly referred to Bret Maverick as arguably[weasel words] the first TV anti-hero,[] and have praised the show for its photography and Garner's charisma and subtly comedic facial expressions.[].

Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick

Jack Kelly played Bart Maverick and Uncle Bentley Maverick.

Though James Garner was originally supposed to be the only Maverick, the studio eventually hired Jack Kelly to play brother Bart, starting with the eighth episode. The producers had realized that it took over a week to shoot a single episode, meaning that at some point the studio would run out of finished episodes to televise during the season, so Kelly was hired to rotate with Garner as the series lead, using two separate crews (while occasionally appearing together). In Bart's first episode, "Hostage," in order to engender audience sympathy for the new character, the script called for him to be tied up and beaten by an evil police officer.

James Garner (Bret) and Jack Kelly (Bart)

According to series creator Roy Huggins in his Archive of American Television interview, the two brothers were purposely written to be virtual clones, with no apparent differences inherent in the scripts whatsoever. This included being traveling poker players, loving money, professing to be cowards (despite voluminous evidence to the contrary), spouting enigmatic words of advice their "Pappy" passed down to them, and carrying a $1,000 bill pinned to the inside of a coat for emergency purposes. There was, however, one distinct--but accidental--difference between the two. Garner's episodes tended to be more comedic due to his obvious talent in that area, while Kelly's were inclined to be more dramatic. Huggins noted in the aforementioned Archive of American Television interview that Kelly, while funnier than Garner "off camera", dropped a funny line while shooting a scene "like a load of coal." Garner, at 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m), was also two inches (5 cm) taller than the obviously more slender Kelly, leading a character in one episode ("Seed of Deception") to refer to Garner as "the big one" and the 6'1" Kelly as "the little one".

To get disappointed viewers used to the idea of a second Maverick, Garner filmed a series of brief vignettes that aired at the beginning of the Kelly-only episodes during much of the first season, where he would introduce the evening's story. To foster as much parity as possible, Kelly did the same in a Garner-only episode, "Black Fire", by appearing in the opening vignette to introduce the story and extraneously narrating the episode itself. Roy Huggins observed in his videotaped Archive of American Television interview that the ratings for Kelly's episodes were always slightly higher during the first two seasons than Garner's. Huggins mentioned that he believed that this was a reflection of how well the audience liked Garner's episodes and the consequent word of mouth, so that viewers would be at their sets for the following episode, which would usually feature Kelly instead. The rating jumps for Kelly's episodes were tiny enough that they fell within the margin of error, according to Huggins in this interview, but he maintains that they were remarkable in that they were consistent.

While Kelly developed a following among the show's female fans, not everyone was happy with his addition to the cast. The chairman of Kaiser Aluminum, the series' main sponsor at the time, became so perturbed when Kelly was brought in (saying, "I paid for red apples and I get green apples!") that he forced ABC to make a new deal that cost the network a small fortune.

The episodes featuring both Garner and Kelly were audience favorites, with critics frequently citing the chemistry between the Maverick brothers.[] Bret and Bart often found themselves competing for women or money, or working together in some elaborate scheme to swindle someone who had just robbed one of them. Bret and Bart technically appeared together in sixteen episodes over the course of the series, but only shared a large amount of screen time in eleven of them ("Hostage," "The Wrecker," "Trail West to Fury," "Seed of Deception," "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," "Game of Chance," "Two Beggars on Horseback," "Pappy," "Maverick Springs," "Maverick and Juliet," and "The Maverick Line"). All but one of the other two-brother episodes are actually Garner's with cameo appearances by Kelly, the exception being "The Jeweled Gun", in which their roles were switched at the last minute due to a schedule conflict and Garner wound up making his single cameo appearance in a Kelly episode.

Though it was never said explicitly, Bret appears to be the older, stating once in response to someone mentioning lightning striking twice in the same place, "That's just what my Pappy said when he looked in my brother Bart's crib." In real life, Kelly was seven months older than Garner. Kelly wound up being the only Maverick to appear in all five seasons of the series in the wake of Garner's contentious departure after the third season to successfully pursue a major theatrical film career.

Kelly also played Bret and Bart's uncle, Bentley Maverick, in the 1959 episode "Pappy".

Roger Moore as Beau Maverick

Roger Moore as Beau Maverick
Roger Moore and Kathleen Crowley

Though very popular, Garner quit over a contract dispute with the studio after the series' third year in order to graduate to a much anticipated (and extremely successful) movie career, and was replaced by Roger Moore as cousin Beau, nephew of Beau "Pappy" Maverick. It is unclear if Beau was supposed to be the son of Bret and Bart's uncle Bentley. Sean Connery turned down the role, but accepted a free trip to America;[2] the following decade, Moore would replace Connery as James Bond in the 007 film series based upon Ian Fleming's spy novels.

Beau's first appearance was in the season four opener, "The Bundle from Britain", in which he returns from an extended stay in England to meet cousin Bart. Moore had earlier played a completely different role in the episode "The Rivals", a drawing room comedy episode with Garner in which Moore's character switched identities with Bret.

Beau's amusingly self-described "slight English accent" was explained by his having spent the last few years in England. Moore was exactly the same age as Kelly and brought a flair for light comedy and a physical similarity to Garner fitting the show--Moore even looked like the profile drawing (apparently based on Garner) of the card player at the beginning of each episode. Moore noted in his autobiography that the producers told him he was not being brought in to replace Garner. However, when he got to wardrobe, all of his costumes had the name "Jim Garner" scratched out on the tags. Moore also mentioned in the book that he, Garner, Kelly, and their wives would regularly gather at the Kelly home for what they called "poker school".

There was also a dispute between the cast and producers during this time over the long hours they were putting in each day. The producers placed a time clock in the makeup department and required the actors to punch in. Moore brought his own makeup, and refused to do so. Moore wrote in his book that Kelly was "similarly minded, and one day took the time clock and used it as a football."

Moore had already played Maverick dialogue written for Garner in his earlier series, The Alaskans. The studio had a policy of recycling scripts through their various television series to save money on writers, changing as little dialogue as possible, usually only names and locations. Recycled scripts were often credited to "W. Hermanos" (Spanish for W. Brothers).

One of Moore's episodes, "Bolt from the Blue," was written and directed by Robert Altman.

Moore quit after only fourteen episodes due to what he felt was a declining script quality (without having to resort to legal measures as Garner had); Moore insisted that if he had gotten the level of writing Garner had enjoyed during the first two years of the show's run, he would have stayed.

Robert Colbert as Brent Maverick

Robert Colbert as Brent Maverick
Robert Colbert (right) in subsequent series The Time Tunnel (1966)

As ratings continued to slide following the departure of Roy Huggins and James Garner and the addition of Roger Moore, strapping Garner lookalike Robert Colbert was cast as yet another brother, Brent Maverick, duplicating Garner's most frequent costume exactly. Colbert had appeared on the show previously as Cherokee Dan Evans in the season four episode "Hadley's Hunters," wearing an identical black hat on the back of his head just as Garner had. Aware of his strikingly close resemblance to Garner and wary of the comparisons that would inevitably result, Colbert famously pleaded with Warner not to cast him, saying, "Put me in a dress and call me Brenda, but don't do this to me!"[3]

The studio had intended for Kelly, Moore, and Colbert to be on the series at the same time. Numerous publicity photos survive of Bart, Beau, and Brent posing together, but Moore had already left the show when the first of Colbert's two episodes aired in March 1961. Colbert was introduced as Brent in the season four episode titled "The Forbidden City." Kelly made what amounted to an extended cameo appearance in the episode. Colbert would appear again two episodes later by himself in "Benefit of Doubt," featuring Slim Pickens in a small role as a stagecoach driver. Like Roger Moore, Colbert also looked like the drawing at the series opening, which had evidently been based on Garner.

For the fifth season (1961-1962), the studio dropped Colbert without notifying him; they simply did not call him back. New Kelly episodes alternated with Garner reruns until the series was cancelled. The studio reversed the actors' billing at the beginning of the show for that last season, with Kelly billed above Garner in the series opening titles before the episode itself.

Colbert wore Bret/Brent's garb once more in 1965, this time in full color with a bright blue hatband, in an episode of Bonanza titled "The Meredith Smith," in which he plays a gambler named Ace Jones hoping to inherit a fortune by proving that his real name is the titular Meredith Smith. The episode's lead character was Lorne Greene as patriarch Ben Cartwright with briefer appearances by Dan Blocker as Hoss Cartwright.

Guest Cast

Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) and Gentleman Jack Darby (Richard Long).
Jack Kelly and Paula Raymond
  • Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as James Aloysius "Dandy Jim" Buckley, a dapper and sophisticated con artist, who at times was both friend and foe to Bret but maintained a markedly warmer friendship with Bart.
  • Diane Brewster as Samantha Crawford, a charming and flirtatious con woman with a beguiling fake southern accent who managed to dupe Bret and Bart out of large sums in different episodes--but not without having a little romance with each brother first. Brewster originated the role of Crawford on Cheyenne before Maverick went on the air. "Samantha Crawford" was the maiden name of series creator Roy Huggins' mother.
  • Richard Long as John "Gentleman Jack" Darby. Gentleman Jack was intended to be the friendly rival opposing Bart that Dandy Jim's character was for Bret, and was created after Zimbalist had been cast in 77 Sunset Strip and was no longer available for lengthy appearances; Long later joined the cast of 77 Sunset Strip himself. All four (Bret, Bart, Dandy Jim, and Gentleman Jack) appear in the episode "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" but throughout the series, Gentleman Jack only had scenes with Bart among the principals.
  • Arlene Howell as Cindy Lou Brown, another beautiful con woman whom Bart and Gentleman Jack fought over. Cindy Lou appeared in three episodes, "Alias Bart Maverick", "Passage to Fort Doom", and very briefly in "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres".
  • Leo Gordon as Big Mike McComb, Bret and Bart's Irish friend who aided them on several adventures. Gordon, also a screenwriter, would later script some episodes of the series but none of those in which he appeared.
  • Gerald Mohr and Peter Breck as Doc Holliday. Mohr originally played the role in season one as a vengeful but charismatic killer in "The Quick and the Dead". However, in seasons four and five, Breck portrayed Holliday starkly differently as a crooked rogue who was always getting Bart in trouble with his scams.
  • Kathleen Crowley as Modesty Blaine, Melanie Blake, and Marla, leading ladies with repeated appearances in various seasons. Mona Freeman played Modesty Blaine twice while Crowley played the role once. Crowley played leading ladies in eight different episodes, a series record.
  • John Dehner and Andrew Duggan each played gangster Big Ed Murphy once, among other roles in the series.
  • Mike Road played gambler Pearly Gates twice during the final season. In both his appearances, he was accompanied by Kathleen Crowley's character of Marla.

Some performers, such as Kathleen Crowley, Tol Avery, Gage Clarke, and Chubby Johnson appeared seven or eight times over the course of the series in various roles. Eventual Oscar-winner Joel Grey played Billy the Kid in "Full House," an unusual third season episode that featured a bravura pistol-twirling exhibition by Garner as part of the plot. Robert Redford joined Kelly as a major supporting player on a desperate cattle drive in "The Iron Hand."

Stacy Keach Sr. played a sheriff and two different marshals in three episodes, including "Ghost Rider." Edgar Buchanan portrayed extremely widely varying roles in five episodes. Ben Gage lampooned Marshal Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke in three different episodes, most obviously in the spoof "Gun-Shy," which sent up the series' entire regular cast.

Clint Eastwood, Slim Pickens, Lee Van Cleef, John Carradine, Buddy Ebsen, Hans Conried, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, subsequent Oscar-winner George Kennedy, John Gavin, Mike Connors, Chad Everett, Patric Knowles, and Adam West appeared at least once during the run of the series.

Glamorous young actresses included subsequent Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher as well as Mala Powers, Coleen Gray, Paula Raymond, Ruta Lee, Marie Windsor, Abby Dalton, Karen Steele, Dawn Wells, Connie Stevens, Merry Anders, Kaye Elhardt, Sherry Jackson, Pippa Scott, Saundra Edwards, Peggy McCay and Adele Mara.

The show's stentorian-voiced announcer ("Maverick! Starring Jack Kelly and Robert Colbert!") was character actor Ed Reimers.


Writers for Maverick included creator/producer Roy Huggins ("Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" and "Passage to Fort Doom"), Russell S. Hughes ("According to Hoyle", "The Seventh Hand", "The Burning Sky", and Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Wrecker"), Gerald Drayson Adams ("Stampede"), Montgomery Pittman ("The Saga of Waco Williams"), director Douglas Heyes ("The Quick and the Dead"), Marion Hargrove ("The Jail at Junction Flats") Howard Browne ("Duel at Sundown"), Leo Townsend ("The Misfortune Teller"), Gene Levitt ("The Comstock Conspiracy"), Leo Gordon (who also acted on the series although never in an episode that he had written; apparently the studio didn't want to foster a custom of actors writing their own scripts for television series), and George Waggner ("You Can't Beat the Percentage"), among many others.

Theme song

The memorable theme song was penned by prolific composers David Buttolph (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics). Buttolph's theme first appeared as incidental music in the Warner Bros. film of The Lone Ranger. The theme song was only heard briefly at the show's opening (after a teaser clip), and in an instrumental version. For the closing credits, a full-length (30 second) version was used. The prolific Buttolph's other most remembered musical contribution was the arrangement of Alfred Newman's stirring theme from 1940's The Mark of Zorro starring Tyrone Power.

The closing theme song was entirely instrumental during season one. A vocal version with lyrics debuted partway through season two, being used intermittently in place of the instrumental version. The vocal theme finally saw regular use by the end of season two and for all seasons thereafter. The vocal theme, performed by an all-male chorus, described the lead character of Maverick ("Who is the tall dark stranger there? / Maverick is the name...") – even though it debuted well after the two-Maverick format was firmly established.


Episode list

For a complete list of every episode in the series with comments, see the list of Maverick episodes.

Notable episodes

Karen Steele and Garner in "Point Blank"
Garner and Louise Fletcher in "The Saga of Waco Williams"
Garner as Pappy and Kaye Elhardt in "Pappy"
Marshall Kent and Ben Gage in "Gun-Shy"
Portrait traditionally identified as Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the original author of the 1775 play "The Rivals," adapted 184 years later into a Maverick episode starring James Garner and Roger Moore
Roger Moore circa 1960
Publicity still with 1959 Warner Bros. series leads Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), Peter Brown (Lawman), Jack Kelly (Maverick), Ty Hardin (Bronco), James Garner (Maverick), Wayde Preston (Colt .45), and John Russell (Lawman)

The first episode of Maverick, "War of the Silver Kings," was based on C. B. Glasscock's "The War of the Copper Kings," which relates the real-life adventures of copper mine speculator F. Augustus Heinze who ultimately became a speculator in the New York financial district at 42 Broadway. Roy Huggins recalls in his Archive of American Television interview that this Warners-owned property was selected by the studio to replace "Point Blank" as the first episode in order to cheat him out of creator residuals. James Garner maintained in his in-depth Archive of American Television interview that he and Leo Gordon were hitting each other for real in the fight sequences, visible in the shot where Garner is hit in the stomach, slamming him backward against a door.

"Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" features Bret Maverick (James Garner) spending most of the episode relaxing in a rocking chair, calmly whittling and offhandedly assuring the inquisitive and derisively amused townspeople that he's "working on it," while his brother Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) runs a complex sting operation involving all five of the series' occasionally recurring characters (Dandy Jim Buckley, Samantha Crawford, Gentleman Jack Darby, Big Mike McComb and Cindy Lou Brown) to swindle a crooked banker who had stolen Bret's deposit of $15,000. Garner notes in his memoir, The Garner Files, that he was given the choice of which role to play, and chose the one where he spent the episode sitting down because he'd been feeling tired and overworked. It was his favorite episode. In his Archive of American Television interview, Roy Huggins contends that the first half of the later theatrical film The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford was an uncredited restaging of "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres."

"Duel at Sundown" stars Clint Eastwood as a gun-slinging villain in an epic showdown with Bret, also featuring Edgar Buchanan and Abby Dalton in large supporting roles.

The episode "Escape to Tampico" used the actual set of "Rick's Café Américain" from Casablanca for "La Cantina Americana," and contains many allusions to the film. At 19:19 on the DVD release there is even a short clip from the movie where actors are dressed in French Army and Heer uniforms, and Leonid Kinskey is recognizable tending the bar. The episode's plot hinges on Gerald Mohr as a white-jacketed saloon owner, similar to Humphrey Bogart's Casablanca character, whom Bret is sent to bring back to America because of a murder during a robbery.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s dangerously eccentric but wittily amusing character Dandy Jim Buckley appears in "Stampede" and "The Jail at Junction Flats." Zimbalist went on to play the lead in his own series, 77 Sunset Strip, after five appearances on Maverick as Buckley. Huggins recruited Richard Long to fill the void as a similar character named "Gentleman Jack Darby," and both Buckley and Darby appear in "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," although not in the same scenes. Zimbalist and Long eventually did appear together as regular series leads in 77 Sunset Strip, however, albeit playing characters utterly different from their Maverick roles.

"The Saga of Waco Williams" with Wayde Preston and Louise Fletcher (who later won an Oscar for playing the original "Nurse Ratched" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) drew the highest viewership of the entire series. Preston portrayed an ultra-heroic and utterly fearless character that had Bret Maverick breaking the fourth wall to marvel in amazement at the conclusion of the episode. Writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell noted in his Archive of American Television interview that, two decades later, he used Waco Williams as the prototype for "Lance White," Tom Selleck's recurring role on James Garner's subsequent series The Rockford Files.

"According to Hoyle" was the first Maverick appearance of Diane Brewster as roguish Samantha Crawford, a role she'd played earlier in an episode of the Western TV series Cheyenne titled "The Dark Rider," and subsequently repeated on Maverick with Garner in "The Seventh Hand" and Kelly in "The Savage Hills" and "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres."

"The Quick and the Dead" stars Gerald Mohr as Doc Holliday and film noir icon Marie Windsor as a saloon owner in a tense drama with Bret Maverick gingerly attempting to manipulate the terrifying gunslinger. Mohr portrayed Doc Holliday again the following year in an episode of the television series Tombstone Territory titled "Doc Holliday in Durango," reprising his colorfully sardonic performance as the legendary gunfighter.

During the first two seasons, with writer/producer Roy Huggins at the helm, writers were instructed to write every script while visualizing James Garner playing the part; two-Maverick scripts denoted the brothers as "Maverick 1" and "Maverick 2," with Garner choosing which role he would play due to his senior status on the series. The one exception to this was "Passage to Fort Doom," a meditation on courage written by Huggins expressly for Jack Kelly, directed by Paul Henreid and featuring Arlene Howell, John Alderson and Diane McBain.

"The Rivals" is based on a sophisticated comedy of manners play written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and first mounted in 1775. Roger Moore appears in "The Rivals" as a wealthy playboy who switches identities with Bret to facilitate landing a comely lass (Pat Crowley) with whom he's become infatuated. Two seasons later, Roger Moore would replace James Garner's Bret Maverick with his own Beau Maverick when Garner left the series to successfully accelerate his movie career. This is the only episode with both James Garner and Roger Moore.

"Two Tickets to Ten Strike" with Connie Stevens is a hybrid of comedy, mystery and action drama spotlighting Adam West spouting amazing dialogue as an amusingly verbose villain insistently threatening Bret.

In the chilling "Ghost Rider" with Stacy Keach Sr., Bret learns that a weeping woman to whom he'd given a ride in a buckboard had been dead for weeks when he met her.

A gunshot criminal confesses to Bret with his dying breath that an innocent man was locked up in jail for a murder that he didn't commit, spurring the epic odyssey "The Long Hunt."

Other examples of the numerous notable episodes include a spoof of Gunsmoke titled "Gun-Shy"; Bret is framed for a robbery and waiting to be hung in the mistaken identity thriller "The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick"; the courtroom drama "Rope of Cards" created a run on decks of cards throughout the United States the day after its initial broadcast in the wake of Bret using a seemingly impossible card trick that actually exists; "Relic of Fort Tejon" features an affectionate camel who adores Bret; the corpse of a man whom Bret has just killed in self defense vanishes in "The Comstock Conspiracy"; one of Jean Renoir's favorite actors, Marcel Dalio (La Grande Illusion and The Rules of the Game), portrays a swindler who separately cheats Bret and Bart in "Game of Chance"; and Robert Louis Stevenson's ocean-going adventure "The Wrecker" features Errol Flynn look-alike Patric Knowles in an episode with both Bret and Bart.

"Pappy" presents Garner portraying Bret and Bart's colorful father, Beau Maverick, a previously unseen character. Bret and Bart would frequently announce, "As my Pappy used to say..." followed by aphorisms like, "Work is fine for killing time but it's a shaky way to make a living." Bret disguises himself as Pappy in the same episode, which features trick photography sequences with Garner playing both roles in the same shot. Kelly also plays a dual role, briefly portraying Beau's brother Bentley ("Uncle Bent", as Bret calls him). Garner's Beau Maverick is not the same character as the Beau Maverick played by Roger Moore later in the series; Moore's Beau is the nephew of Garner's Beau, and Bret and Bart's cousin. The younger Beau Maverick always referred to the elder as "Uncle Beau" or "Uncle Beauregard" instead of "Pappy." Troy Donahue plays the son of a long-time lover of Pappy in the episode, and Adam West portrays a villain.

"Bolt from the Blue" starring Roger Moore as Beau Maverick was written and directed by Robert Altman. Other memorable solo episodes with Moore include "Red Dog" with Lee Van Cleef and John Carradine and "Kiz" with Kathleen Crowley and Peggy McCay.

Jack Kelly's favorite episode was "Two Beggars On Horseback," a sweeping adventure that depicted a frenzied race between Bret and Bart to cash a check, the only time in the series that Kelly also wore a black hat, albeit briefly. Notable solo episodes with Kelly as Bart Maverick include "The Jeweled Gun" with Kathleen Crowley; "The Third Rider" with Dick Foran; the aforementioned "The Savage Hills" with Diane Brewster as Samantha Crawford; "Iron Hand" with Robert Redford in a major supporting role; the ominously suspenseful "Last Stop: Oblivion" with Buddy Ebsen; "Betrayal" with Patricia Crowley and Ruta Lee; "Substitute Gun" with Coleen Gray and Joan Marshall; and of course the previously discussed "Passage to Fort Doom." "The Maverick Line," a post-Huggins episode, features the most screen time with Bret and Bart together although its comedy remains unusually broad for the series.

Many episodes are humorous while others are deadly serious, and in addition to purely original scripts, producer Roy Huggins drew upon works by writers as disparate as Louis Lamour ("Stage West") and Robert Louis Stevenson ("The Wrecker") to give the series breadth and scope. The various Mavericks never stopped traveling, and the show was as likely to be set on a riverboat or in New Orleans as in a Western desert or frontier saloon. Roy Huggins quit the series at the end of the second season due to a life-threatening bout with pneumonia, and was succeeded by writer/producer Coles Trapnell, ushering in a gradual but sharp permanent decline in ratings. The series had finished at #6 in the Nielsen ratings in the 1958-1959 season (a coup since it was scheduled directly against and topped a roster of extremely popular series such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Jack Benny Program on the other networks), then fell to #19 in 1959-1960 and out of the top 30 during its last two seasons, after Garner had left the show.[4]

Home media

Warner Home Video released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1.

Seasons One and Two were standard DVD releases. Seasons Three, Four, and Five were released via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release on DVD-R discs and is available through Warner's online store and

A Television Favorites DVD of the show released, featuring three episodes. It was released in Standard format.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 27 May 29, 2012[5]
The Complete Second Season 26 April 23, 2013[6]
The Complete Third Season 26 October 8, 2013[7]
The Complete Fourth Season 32 January 7, 2014[8]
The Complete Fifth Season 13 April 29, 2014[9]

Spin-offs and crossovers

In the decades following the cancellation of Maverick, the characters and situations have been revived several times.

The New Maverick

In 1978, a TV movie called The New Maverick had Garner and Kelly reprising their roles, with Charles Frank playing young Ben Maverick, the son of their cousin Beau (Roger Moore, although Moore did not appear in The New Maverick). Garner shot the film while on hiatus from The Rockford Files. Kelly only appeared in a few scenes near the end, a frequent practice during Garner episodes in the original series.

Young Maverick (1979)

The New Maverick was the pilot for a new series, Young Maverick, which ran for a short time in 1979. Charles Frank's character, Ben Maverick, was the focal point of the show, while Garner only appeared as Bret for a few moments at the beginning of the first episode. It is apparent Bret does not much care for Ben, and the two part at the nearest crossroads; some critics later noted the audience couldn't help but think the camera was following the wrong Maverick.[] The series ended so quickly that some episodes that had already been filmed were never broadcast in the United States.

Bret Maverick

Two years later, Garner left The Rockford Files and began looking at possibilities for another series. Bret Maverick (1981-82) stars the 53-year-old as an older-but-no-wiser Bret, originally seen in the earlier series at age 29. Jack Kelly appears as Bret's brother Bart in only one episode but was slated to return as a series regular for the following season, for which several scripts were already written and presented to Kelly during the filming of the season finale. NBC unexpectedly canceled the show after one season despite respectable ratings, and Kelly would never officially join the cast. The new series involves Bret Maverick settling down in a small town in Arizona after winning a saloon in a poker game. The two-hour pilot episode was reedited as the TV-movie Bret Maverick: The Lazy Ace and the series' only two-part episode was later marketed as a TV-movie titled Bret Maverick: Faith, Hope and Clarity. Bret Maverick ends on a sentimental note, with Bret and Bart embracing during an unexpected encounter, and the theme from the original series playing in the background.

The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw

The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991) features Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick for the last time. The TV-movie very briefly depicts Kelly and other Western characters and actors from various earlier television series, including Bat Masterson (Gene Barry); Wyatt Earp (Hugh O'Brian); the Rifleman (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford); Caine from Kung Fu (David Carradine); The Westerner (Brian Keith); a thinly disguised Virginian (James Drury) and Trampas (Doug McClure, who had appeared briefly as a hotel clerk in a first season Maverick episode); and Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker). As each hero appears onscreen, a few bars of the theme song from his original series plays in the background, similar to a doorbell. Jack Kelly died of a stroke the following year.

In other media


A lavish theatrical film version was released in 1994 entitled Maverick starring Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick, Jodie Foster as a faux-Southern accented gambler reminiscent of Samantha Crawford, and James Garner as Marshal Zane Cooper, who is later revealed to be Bret's father. The movie was directed by Richard Donner (who had previously directed many TV series prior to working in feature films) from a screenplay by Oscar-winning writer William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Garner maintained in later interviews that he was playing exactly the same character as in the television series, with Gibson as his son (which is consistent with the script's and Gibson's notably different interpretation of the character), but the screenplay itself leaves this open to conjecture; some assume that he was actually portraying Bret's father Beau "Pappy" Maverick. A "Making of" mini-documentary was broadcast on cable stations prior to the film's release that included no footage of Garner from the original series despite both the movie and television series having been produced by the same studio.

Comic books

During the height of the TV show's popularity and beyond, the various Mavericks appeared in Maverick comic books drawn by Dan Spiegle.[10] Spiegle met James Garner at the studio before the first Maverick comic was drawn because no publicity photographs were available yet; only Garner as Bret was featured in the first comic books because he was the only Maverick for the first seven television episodes. The encounter left a favorable impression and Spiegle thereafter put extra effort into his drawings of Garner to capture the likeness of the actor while his subsequent depictions of the other Mavericks (Jack Kelly as Bart, Roger Moore as Beau, and Robert Colbert as Brent -- inaccurately referred to as "Bret" in the comic book version) bore practically no resemblance to the actual actors. Spiegle explained to an interviewer:

I would say my favorite was Maverick, which ran about three years -- fairly successful, considering the run of other western strips published then. I was assigned this strip even before they had stills available for the show, so I was sent down to Warner Bros. to see it in production -- where I met James Garner, which is perhaps the reason I enjoyed it so much. Having met the star, I was extra careful to make the drawings I did look as parallel to the real person as possible. I put my all into that strip, having fun all the way.[11]

Bret Maverick statue

On 21 April 2006, a 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) bronze statue of James Garner as Bret Maverick was unveiled in Garner's hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, with Garner present.[12]


Two different books on the Maverick TV series were published in 1994, one by Burl Barer and the other by Ed Robertson, and serve as the main sources for the background information in this article, together with various magazine pieces from TV Guide, Life Magazine, and numerous others, along with viewings of the original series episodes, many of which remain available to the public at the Paley Center for Media in New York City and Los Angeles. The entire series was released on DVD one season at a time in 2012, 2013, and 2014.


  1. ^ Tise Vahimagi. "Maverick". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved . Maverick premiered on September 22, 1957, and pretty soon won over the viewers from the powerful opposition of CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show and NBC's The Steve Allen Show, two shows that had been enormous Sunday night favorites from the mid-1950s.
  2. ^ p.111 Callan, Michael Feeney Sean Connery 2002 Virgin Publishing
  3. ^ Alexander, Linda J. (November 2011). A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story. Duncan, Okla.: BearManor Media. ISBN 9781593936785. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ " TV Ratings".
  5. ^ "Maverick DVD news: Announcement for Maverick - The Complete 1st Season -". Archived from the original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  6. ^ "Maverick DVD news: Announcement for Maverick - The Complete 2nd Season -". Archived from the original on 24 October 2015. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ "'The Complete 3rd Season' DVDs Now Out: Details, High-Res 3D Box Art". Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ "Roger (007) Moore Joins the Cast in 'The Complete 4th Season'". Archived from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  9. ^ "Maverick DVD news: Announcement for Maverick - The Complete 5th Season -". Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ "Dan Spiegle".
  11. ^ Gheno, Dan (1972). "An Interview with Dan Spiegle". Graphic Story World via Archived from the original on July 23, 2011.
  12. ^

Further reading

Ed Robertson. Maverick: Legend of the West. Revised third edition. Black Pawn Press, 2019. ISBN 1949802124

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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