Show Type: Western
First Telecast: September 22, 1957
Last Telecast: July 8, 1962
Bret Maverick (1957-1960)..... James Garner
Bart Maverick..... Jack Kelly
Samantha Crawford (1958-1959)..... Diane Brewster
Cousin Beauregard Maverick (1960-1961)..... Roger Moore
Brent Maverick..... Robert Colbert
Dandy Jim Buckley..... Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Gentleman Jack Darby..... Richard Long
In the days when scores of TV heroes were chasing lawbreakers in every corner of the Old West, this show was just a little different - a Western with a sense of humor! But it did NOT start out that way.
For the first few episodes, Maverick was a straight forward series about a dapper cardsharp and his adventures on the frontier. Then, a bored scriptwriter slipped in some stage directions for James Garner to look at someone with "his beady little eyes." Garner thought this was hilarious and played the scene for laughs! It worked, and soon, the whole show was moving in a satirical orientation.
Wisecracking ladies man Bret was joined in November 1957 by a fairly straight brother, Bart, to keep the series from straying too far from traditional Westerns. Neither brother was a traditional hero - they would just as soon slip out of town quietly than face a gunman in an impending showdown. Also, they were usually honest in poker and Bret handled a gun rather ineptly.
Bret and Bart alternated as leads, and sometimes appeared together. Their exploits took them to frontier towns like Apocalypse, Hounddog and Oblivion and sometimes out of the States entirely, like when Bret sailed to the South Pacific to inspect an island. Other infrequent cast members included Bart's friends Dandy Jim Buckley and Gentleman Jack Darby.
During the second season, Bret had a running feud with Samantha Crawford, a slick operator in her own right, to see who could out-con who. At this point, he was always remind viewers of the advice his "pappy" had given him - "in the face of overwhelming odds, RUN!" Ironically, Pappy, who was often referred to actually showed up in one episode - played by James Garner!
One the highest points of the show was the periodic satires of other TV shows - Westerns and non-Westerns alike. For example, a takeoff on Gunsmoke and another on Dragnet in which Bret intoned a narration in deadpan Joe Friday style. The best of these however was a wild parody of Bonanza, in which Bart encountered a ranching baron name Joe Wheelwright (played by Jim Backus), owner of the vast Subrosa Ranch, who was trying to marry off his three idiot sons Moose (Hoss), Henry (Adam) and Small Paul (Little Joe). On another show, Bart ran into Clint "Cheyenne" Walker, John Russell and his deputy Peter Brown (from Lawman). Will "Sugarfoot" Hutchins, Ty "Bronco" Hardin and Edd Kookie Byrnes all in one episode!
In 1960, James Garner walked off the Warner Bros. Studios lot demanding a better contract. In a replay of the confrontation between Warner Bros. and Clint Walker two years earlier, the studio refused to give in and instead, hired a new actor to replace him. And so began the career of Cousin Beau Maverick, who was introduced as an expatriate Texan who had fought with valor in the Civil War, who then moved to England and now returned as a cultured Englishman to further the family fortunes in America.
James Garner never returned to Maverick. In December 1960, a court ruled that he could not be held to his contract and he left Warner Bros. Cousin Beau and Bart alternated for the rest of the 1960-1961 season. In the spring of 1961, another brother, Brent Maverick, was brought in to attempt to fill Garner's shoes. Nothing worked and the 1961-1962 season became the final season.
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