Search the Western Clippings Site

An Interview With…
        - Archives

Will "Sugarfoot" Hutchins
    - Archives

Do You Remember?
    - Young Maverick
    - Bret Maverick
    - Wagon Train
    - Death Valley Days
    - The Travels of Jaimie  McPheeters
    - Cade’s County
    - Guns of Will Sonnett
    - Cowboy in Africa
    - Sheriff of Cochise
    - Rin Tin Tin
    - Two Faces West
    - The Monroes
    - The Westerner
    - Daniel Boone
    - Whiplash
    - Riverboat
    - Zorro
    - Wild Wild West
    - Spin and Marty
    - Grizzly Adams
    - Buckskin
    - Stagecoach West
    - Dundee and the Culhane
    - Daniel Boone (Disney)
    - Andy Burnett
    - Swamp Fox
    - Texas John Slaughter
    - Black Saddle
    - Hondo
    - Man Called Shenandoah
    - Elfego Baca
    - Man Without a Gun
    - The Big Valley
    - Have Gun Will Travel
    - Laredo
    - Custer
    - Buffalo Bill Jr.
    - Iron Horse
    - The Outcasts
    - Sugarfoot
    - The Cisco Kid
    - Lawman
    - Lancer
    - Zane Grey Theatre
    - Laramie
    - Overland Trail
    - Range Rider
    - Pony Express
    - Union Pacific
    - The Rebel
    - The Dakotas
    - Tales of the Texas Rangers
    - Casey Jones
    - Colt .45
    - Wanted Dead or Alive
    - Alias Smith and Jones
    - Cimarron Strip
    - State Trooper
    - Bat Masterson
    - Bronco
    - Cheyenne
    - Destry
    - Sgt. Preston of the Yukon
    - The Tall Man
    - Hotel de Paree
    - Tate
    - Tales of Wells Fargo
    - The Deputy
    - Trackdown
    - Stories of the Century
    - Jefferson Drum
    - 26 Men
    - The Rifleman
    - Shane
    - Broken Arrow
    - Wichita Town
    - Rawhide
    - Adventures of Kit Carson
    - Shotgun Slade
    - Yancy Derringer
    - Law of the Plainsman
    - Adventures of Jim Bowie
    - Adventures of Champion
    - Tombstone Territory
    - Wild Bill Hickok
    - Gunslinger
    - Maverick
    - Brave Eagle
    - Hopalong Cassidy
    - The Outlaws
    - Judge Roy Bean
    - Fury
    - Man From Blackhawk
    - Mackenzie’s Raiders
    - Legend of Jesse James
    - Branded
    - The Lone Ranger
    - Frontier Doctor
    - The Loner
    - Whispering Smith
    - The Texan
    - Cowboy G-Men
    - Tim McCoy Show
    - Gene Autry Show
    - Boots and Saddles
    - Roy Rogers Show
    - Rough Riders
    - My Friend Flicka
    - Sky King
    - Steve Donovan
    - Californians
    - Restless Gun
    - Gray Ghost
    - Temple Houston
    - Annie Oakley
    - Johnny Ringo
    - Cimarron City

Comic Book Cowboys
    - Archives

Rangeland Elegance
    - Archives

Westerns of...
    - Archives

Heavies and Characters
      - Archives

The Stuntmen - Neil Summers
    - Archives

Western Treasures
    - Archives

Circus Cowboys
    - Archives

Radio Range Riders
    - Archives

Western Artifacts
    - Archives

Film Festival Fotos
    - Archives

Silent Western Reviews
    - Archives

Serial Report
    - Archives

Subscribe to Western Clippings

THINGS TO PURCHASE:

Western Clippings Back Issues

Daily Comic Strips
    - Page 1 (1910-1949)
    - Page 2 (1950-1979)

Sunday Comic Strips

Books

Miscellaneous Collectibles

Autographs

Lobby Cards

Laser Copies of Lobby Cards

Movie Posters

Home

James Garner is "Bret Maverick". Newspaper ad for the show.“Bret Maverick”

In October 1981, Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC Entertainment, announced the decision to revive “Maverick”. James Garner stated, “I started thinking what Bret would be like 20 years later and the series would look like updated from the 1860s to the 1880s. I realized there were two generations who’d grown up never having seen me in the role, so I thought, why not? Let’s do it.”

The main cast of "Bret Maverick"--Darleen Carr, Ed Bruce, James Garner and Stuart Margolin.Garner had but one stipulation. He could not carry the entire show himself. The new version would need plenty of other characters. He simply was not physically able to be on screen an hour a week after six grueling years on “The Rockford Files”. So seven regulars were incorporated into “Bret Maverick”: singer Ed Bruce as Tom Guthrie (Bruce also sang the title tune “Maverick Didn’t Come Here to Lose”), feisty newspaper editor Mary Lou Springer (Darleen Carr), her young assistant Rodney Catlow (David Knell), irascible Cy Whittaker, foreman of Maverick’s Lazy Ace Ranch (Richard Hamilton), newly-elected Sheriff Mitchell Dowd (John Shearin), manipulative banker Elijah Crow (Ramon Bieri) and self styled Indian guide Philo Sandeen (Stuart Margolin).

Whereas Bret roamed from town to town in the original series, there were indications he eventually wanted to settle down. Bret does just that in the two hour color pilot of “Bret Maverick” which aired on NBC December 1, 1981. Bret rides into Sweetwater, Arizona Territory, to participate in a high-stakes poker game with legendary players Doc Holliday (John McLiam), Joe Dakota (Chuck Mitchell), Mandy Packard (Janis Paige) and others. After winning the $100,000 jackpot and ownership of Mandy’s saloon, the Red Ox, Maverick purchases a 100 acre ranch which he christens The Lazy Ace. (The Sable Ranch was the location used.)

This set the tone for the new series, Bret was a more mature, less-adventuresome Maverick but his sense of humor and friendliness were still there even though he was now a solid property-owning citizen. Nevertheless, the people of Sweetwater often perceive Bret as they think he is/was—according to legend—rather than accept him for whom he truly is. This thinking played out in several amusing episodes.

The initial episode, airing on Tuesday from 9-10, garnered a healthy 23.2 Nielsen rating but the curiosity factor soon waned. The show held its own against ABC’s comedy juggernaut of “Happy Days”, “Laverne and Shirley” and “Three’s Company”, but NBC tinkered by moving the series up an hour to 8-9pm in March ‘82 then back to 9-10pm in July ‘82. Realizing the series was a borderline case for renewal, producer Gordon Dawson used the final episode (#17—“The Hidalgo Thing”) to introduce drastic changes to the format if NBC renewed “Bret Maverick” for a second season. Bret would return to his roots by traveling more and brother Bart (Jack Kelly) would join the series.

James "Bret Maverick" Garner and his Lazy Ace ranch foreman Richard Hamilton.In 1992 Jack Kelly recalled, “The producers wanted me to do the last show of the season. It was for a 30 second cameo at the end of the show. At first I didn’t want to do it, but then Jim got on the phone and said, ‘Get you fat ass up here! We’ve written ourselves into a tunnel and you’re the only one who can trip the trigger on the joke.’ So I reported to the set at 7am that day and out of nowhere they wanted me to become the brother again and run the saloon while Jim was on the road doing his con-game routine.”

Garner also wanted Roy Huggins to return to produce the second season. Huggins wanted to think it over, he didn’t want to say no to Garner but as things turned out Huggins never had to give an answer as three days later NBC cancelled the series. Certain ‘powers-that-be’ were stunned, “Bret Maverick” was NBC’s 7th highest ranked show and Garner was the 8th out of 490 most popular stars in the country.

James Garner as Maverick had finally reached the end of a long Western trail—“the legend of the west” became an undeniable TV legend.

top of page