Bret, Bart, Beau, and Brent Maverick

Bret and BartMaverick is one of my current favorite TV shows and it is from the late 50s. Current because I have never seen them, and because I “discovered” it about 6 months ago. You might be familiar with the show, or more likely with the Mel Gibson movie, but I am going to pretend you are not.

Roy Huggins pitched Maverick to ABC to capitalize on the popular western Cheyenne. The big difference between Maverick and all other westerns of the time was that its lead character was an anti-hero. Roy wanted to buck as many trends as he could get away with from the standard western. Bret Maverick, played by James Garner, was a gambler who would avoid fights whenever possible. He would sneak out the back door, or agree with an insult levied at him if it meant he could avoid fighting.

This gave the show a great sense of humor and the plots started to follow suit. Bret might find himself winning a camel that he couldn’t sell or convincing hillbillies to solve their feud through poker. This show seems smarter and more fun than a lot of today’s programming (amazing that it can prove to be more entertaining than ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’).

I also enjoy some of the background stories about the show. The show began falling behind schedule almost immediately so they hired Jack Kelly to play Bart Maverick. His character was nearly identical to Bret’s and they would film episodes simultaneously (occasionally doing an episode with both of them). They were so similar in fact that scripts were all written for Bret, and Garner would choose which ones he wanted. The remaining scripts just changed all the Bret’s to Bart’s. In episodes with both of them it would simply be written Maverick 1 and Maverick 2.
Bart, Beau, and Brent
James Garner left after Season 3, so he was replaced by Roger Moore who played British cousin Beau Maverick. They even added a fourth maverick with Brent Maverick played by Robert Colbert who immediately quit when he realized he had to play it just like Maverick. “Put me in a dress and call me Brenda but don’t do this to me!” he told the studio.

So Colbert and Moore left the show (Moore claiming the scripts were a lot worse than the original scripts) leaving Jack Kelly to have the 4th and final season all to himself.

Even though Jack Kelly played Maverick way more than anyone else, Garner remained the true Maverick in most people’s minds. Even in Jack’s who said, “Garner was Maverick. I was his brother.”

I sadly never saw the Beau Maverick episodes. American Life TV (channel 153 on my cable service) skipped from the last episode of season 3 to the pilot. Though, I at least didn’t have to wait over a year for the show to get to the 1st season which is often cited as far superior to the later seasons.

This week is the first episode with Bart, which I can’t wait for. The two Mavericks have great chemistry together and I love watching them play off each other. Even when Bret is threatened with death if he loses a poker game Bart refuses to throw it. Apparently he was being paid to win and their Pappy used to say, “The only thing more important than money is more money”. Bret understood his explanation and dropped his request.

Anyway – I doubt this factual description of the show is going to convince anyone to seek out episodes, or buy the non-existent DVD sets, but let it be said it charmed the hell out of me. From the thousand dollar bill the Maverick’s pin inside their vests for emergencies to the quotes that their pappy used to say I can’t get enough of it.

Here is the theme song:

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  1. Posted 7/31/2007 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be so down on your persuasive powers, Kevin. I am currently purchasing one non-existent DVD set from amazon right now!

  2. Silvija
    Posted 7/31/2007 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I am not ashamed to say I found the Maverick movie charming and delightful—somtimes Richard Donner gets things right, despite his repeated casting of a crazy anti-Semite.

    I also find hysterical the fact that there were four different Mavericks. Well researched, Kevin.

  3. Maddy
    Posted 8/9/2007 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I had no idea.

  4. pendrew
    Posted 12/12/2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    You can find Maverick (including Beau and Brent) on Encore Westerns. Like you, I’m not quite old enough to have enjoyed them during their first run, but found them on cable. Great stuff!

  5. Kevhines
    Posted 12/12/2008 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I noticed that a few weeks ago – but I don’t get the Encore channels.

    So now it just taunts me.

  6. Jeanineruby
    Posted 4/16/2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I have a crush on Bart Maverick. Yes, I know Garner was THE Maverick, but man is Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) smoooooooth and sooooo handsome. He is just dreamy.

    God how pathetic to have a crush on a dead television actor….
    BUT I DO and I don’t know what to do about it.

    I watch 2 Maverick episodes at 6:00 and 7:00 each weekday evening with my husband. I don’t know how he’d feel if he knew I had a crush on Bart. Maybe he does though…. It’s harmless but I’m getting obsessed….

  7. Kevhines
    Posted 4/17/2009 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Ah, Jeanineruby, do you have EncoreWestern? I don’t – but it airs on that channel I noticed.

    I am jealous. I miss my Maverick fix!

  8. Jeanineruby
    Posted 4/20/2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kevhines. Yes I do watch my Bart on the Encore Westerns channel each weekday evening. (And view Maverick clips and the theme song on Youtube several times a day!) I have also searched out quite a bit of footage on Jack Kelly and “Bart Maverick” is by FAR his greatest and best role. There was a movie on AMC Saturday (Apr 17) morning – “Gunsmoke” – an Audie Murphy film – and Jack Kelly had a big role in it – Curly Mather, although in the end he was shot and killed. He was about 28 years old in that film. He was 30-35 in the Maverick series. Kelly had lots of bit parts during his career – one in Batman(1966), Ironsides (he was 46 and starting to show his age) a Rockford Files episode in 1978 when Kelly was around 50-51, Alias Smith & Jones (Jack wasn’t looking so good in his mid 50’s ), The Fall Guy (really not looking good at 58), Wagon Train (Kelly was 37 in that role and still looked pretty good) plus some B movies, one was “Forbidden Planet” (which was made before the Maverick series); and he’s in one movie that I haven’t seen yet – “The Gambler Returns – Luck of the Draw” with Kenny Rogers, which was made the year before Jack passed away when he was 64, so I’m looking forward to watching that. Jack Kelly’s “Bart Maverick” character was resurrected several times over his career, but Jack didn’t age very well so I’ll just remember him as Bart Maverick, Legend of the West.

  9. Jeanineruby
    Posted 4/24/2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Well, I finally saw Luck of the Draw – the last appearance with Bart Maverick/Jack Kelly. It was made the year before Jack passed away. Well, he still looked good at 64 – perhaps he’d has some cosmetic surgery – cos he looked pretty good. You have to see it – it has all the old western heros in it and is quite amusing.

  10. BBFasano
    Posted 8/25/2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hahaha I love Maverick I agree with Jean in the fact that Bart is better than bret, but I prefer Beau to all of them, maybe its just because I also love Rojer Moore from bond, or maybe just beacuse I see the other two more often. Either way, Kelly runs a close second to Moore, then Garner bringing up the rear. I also think Moore and Kelly got better scrips than Garner, their stories were much funnier.

  11. Gina
    Posted 12/23/2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I love old western TV series, my favorite has always been “Wanted Dead or Alive” . I’m a big Steve Mcqueen fan. I didn’t think I would like Maverick because I’ve never been a big fan of Garner, but WOW I watched a episode with Jack Kelly and fell for Bart Maverick instantly! I do get Encore Westerns and can’t wait to watch Jack Kelly as Bart every night. I really like the episodes with Doc Holiday. When I was little I also looked forward to watching Alias Smith & Jones reruns on Sat. afternoons. When I seen Jack Kelly guest starred on that show I couldn’t wait to see that episode. It’s on youtube and it’s a good one. Jack looks great in it. Is the Maverick series on Dvd?

  12. Kevhines
    Posted 12/23/2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The show is not on DVD. Sadly. Or I would snap it up. I am jealous of all you folks with Encore Western!!!!

  13. Posted 12/30/2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Happy to see Maverick discussed, especially the commentary on Jack Kelly as Bart. Just in case your readers are interested, I will have a bio out on Jack in 2010, “A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story.” Jack was the brother of Nancy Kelly, who gained her greatest fame in the movie, “The Bad Seed.” Theirs was an interesting family, w/another sister, Carol, who had some TV experience, though nothing as notable as either Jack or Nancy, & another brother, Bill. Their mother was one of the 1st John Robert Powers models & quite a stage mother, to boot–having Nancy & Jack doing modeling jobs while they were still babies.

  14. Ruben
    Posted 3/23/2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Do you know the name of the song at the beginning of episodes 49,50 and 51. also the song at the end of the show but not the one they sing just the instrumental. thank you.

  15. Kevhines
    Posted 3/24/2010 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Ruben. I have no idea! I don’t have the shows on tape or DVD, so I can’t even watch them right now. I wish I could convince myself to get Encore Western so I could watch them.

  16. Steven Kivel
    Posted 4/22/2010 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    I have long been a fan of Maverick. I lived in texas for a time wher you could watch it (and i did) 4 times a day I have seen Bret, Bart and Beau but as hard as i have tried to find the 2 episodes with Brent I have been unable.. i know they are not suposed to be that good but the novelity of a Maverick I have never seen kills me any suggestions

  17. steven kivel
    Posted 4/22/2010 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    I had encore for 2 years (just for maverick and DVRed each episode however they only seem to show seasons 1 and 2 I did get a chance to see Beau again but quit getting encore because it was 15 bucks a month and they were just showing season one and two over and over I would pay anything to see season 4 complete with the brent episodes and THE TWO MAVERICKS which I am told is the best Brett Bart episode ever filmed (Filmed for season 3 but not shown until mid season 4 if anyone has knowlegde of when season 4 would be on encore I would pick it back up

  18. Eclectic Geek
    Posted 11/26/2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Encore Westerns is now running nearly as many Roger Moore episodes as they are Jack Kelly episodes. They are also billing Roger Colbert in the in the tv guide credits, so I imagine he will show up at some point… though it really doesn’t matter. They do not seem to be running them in the original order (after a week of alternating Jack Kelly and Roger Moore, they ran one the really classic episodes in which Garner and Kelly inherit their uncle Micah’s stagecoach line) nor do they seem to be running a lot of Jim Garner episodes.

    So if you still have not seen Roger Moore as Beau, that might be the extra inducement. Some of his episodes ARE just recycles of Garner episodes (the big reason he quit) but his delivery of Garner-esque dialogue has an element of Bond-esque ironic nastiness that Garner and Kelly just don’t deliver.

    The only realyl weak episodes with Beau aren’t recycled scripts… they are scripts that read a little too much like other Westerns and not enough like Maverick. They used Beau to run some more action-hero-ey plots that just would not have worked with Brett and Bart. The problem is that those episodes aren’t as different from ‘Cheyenne’ or ‘Have Gun, Will Travel’ as the more subversive episodes, recycled scripts or not.

    For those complaining about Encore pricing, Directv has a package that includes Encore (also the Movie Channel and Sundance) as part of the standard package without paying extra or having to remeber to cancel and it is only five dollars more than their ‘expanded expanded basic cable’ package. DISH Network offers Encore as an a la carte add on to any package for $5.

    Just some specific input on the show and some general info on how to watch it. :)

    Currently, as well, Encore Western is following Maverick with Lawman. A lot of people who didn’t see it first run don’t even know about this little gem, from which Gunsmoke was practically ripped off and which avoids some of the just-for-jokes sidekicks than plagued Gunsmoke.

  19. Michael Powers
    Posted 2/13/2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Under several guises, I wrote 99% of all the Wikipedia articles involving the series, including: Maverick (TV series), List of Maverick episodes, The New Maverick, Young Maverick, and Bret Maverick, and I can reel off a bit of information. There never was an episode entitled “The Two Mavericks” in the original series but I think it’s “The Maverick Line” that’s thought about here. Eclectic Geek, sounds like you are seeing them in the proper order. “The Maverick Line” had been shot the previous season and was to have been the first episode of the 4th season until Garner won his lawsuit against Warner (Garner v. Warner) then they made “The Bundle From Britain,” Roger Moore’s first episode, into the first episode of the 4th season as well, dropping “The Maverick Line” (the most evenly divided Bret/Bart episode) into the middle of the season.

    The first 2 seasons, with writer/creator/producer Roy Huggins at the helm, are by far the best. The finest episodes remain “According to Hoyle,” “Stampede,” “The Jail at Junction Flats,” the legendary “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres” (the 1st half of the movie “The Sting” is an uncredited remake), “Duel at Sundown” (with Clint Eastwood as the villain), and the sensational “The Saga of Waco Williams.”

  20. Michael Powers
    Posted 2/13/2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    One more quick thing: Robert Colbert didn’t quit the series, Warner Bros. simply never called him back for the 5th season. When the show was finally canceled, Jack Kelly had to read about in a newspaper. Steven Kivel, I myself have never seen Brent’s second episode, “Benefit of the Doubt,” and am quite curious about it, especially since it features Slim Pickens and Ellen Burstyn.

  21. Michael Powers
    Posted 2/13/2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Jenineruby, take a look at “The Tall Dark Stranger There,” a heavily illustrated blog devoted to Jack Kelly, assuming you’re not its author. It’s the internet’s most intense trove of Jack Kelly information.

  22. Kevhines
    Posted 2/14/2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for responding to those comments for me Michael.
    Now help get Maverick on DVD for me.

  23. Alonzo
    Posted 3/5/2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Kevhines — You can find the Mavericks to buy online. I bought most of the James Garner episodes that were released by Columbia House on VHS.

    I remembered the series as a kid — and was surprised at how great the shows especially from Season Two were, when the show won an Emmy. I was also disappointed at seeing the early episodes — like many televisions series (and I worked on a few) the writer(s) in this case especially Roy Huggins, didn’t really begin writing for the unique talents of James Garner until Season One was almost done. Season One — the shows are mostly serious. Bret Maverick starts out as a serious character. The early shows aren’t as well written, they aren’t special.

    Despite what others say, “According to Hoyle” — which features a very serious Samantha Crawford, is not a great episode. It’s a drama. And it’s boring. If you sit and watch all the shows you’ll find most of the great shows are in Season Two.

    And by Season Two, James Garner has totally become Bret Maverick. You can see he’s on the cusp of becoming a movie star. The Jack Kelly shows in Season Two are still dull compared to Garner’s, but Kelly’s best work is when he is in the same episode as Garner.
    These best shows are:
    1) The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick – the season’s premiere.
    2) The Jail at Junction Flats – a unique, creative show with Dandy Jim Buckley
    3) Shady Deal at Sunny Acres — the famous one.
    4) Games of Chance – a great Bret and Bart episode, well-written, well-acted, clever
    5) Gun-Shy – the Gunsmoke spoof. Some people don’t think it’s great, because Roy
    Huggins didn’t like it. But it’s entertaining and Garner is great in it.
    6) Two Beggars on Horseback — another great Bret and Bart episode
    7) The Rivals – with guest star Roger Moore, before he came back as Beau Maverick
    8) Duel at Sundown – with guest Clint Eastwood.
    9) Two Tickets to Ten Strike – with Connie Stevens, who is great opposite James Garner.

    Don’t know why people think “The Saga of Waco Williams” is a great episode. The idea of it is funny, but it falls flat. It doesn’t work. Roy Huggins himself said it didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to.

    Only a few James Garner episodes of Season Three are great fun, even though Roy Huggins left the series. Most of them the comedy is way too broad. Best ones are:
    1) A Fellow’s Brother
    2) Guatemala City
    3) A Flock of Sheep
    4) Greenbacks, Unlimited

    The 4th Season episode talked about, “The Maverick Line” is really mediocre. The episode “Pappy” with Garner playing two roles, that began Season Three, also mediocre.

    I wouldn’t wait if I were you for a Maverick DVD release. WB released three episodes on DVD a few years ago as a sampler — “Shady Deal” “Gun-Shy” and “Pappy” and it didn’t sell well. Go online to Amazon. There are plenty episodes you can buy on VHS — some were released by WB and many more released by Columbia House.

  24. Kevhines
    Posted 3/5/2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I love this show… but not enough to watch it on VHS. I got rid of my VCR long ago….

  25. Tom Hunter
    Posted 6/28/2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Actually the final time that Jack played Bart opposite Garner as Bret was in the final episode of the BRET MAVERICK series. Short cameo but well done.

    According the a book on MAVERICK, Jack was gonna be a regular on season 2 of BRET MAVERICK. He was gonna watch The Red Ox Saloon while Bret again hit the road. The two would have shared the ranch which Bret had purchased in the pilot episode.

    Sadly, the series was cancelled after the first season.

  26. Posted 9/4/2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    How many Mavericks were there?

    Currently Encore Western is not only showing Maverick but Bret Maverick as well. With 3 tv series and one feature movie, I count 8 Maverick men in the tv family (by James Garner’s reckoning).

    In the original series, there was Bret played by James Garner, Bart by Jack Kelly, Pappy (Beauregard) by James Garner (1 episode), and Uncle Bentley played by Jack Kelly (1 episode), Cousin Beau played by Roger Moore, and Bret and Bart’s younger brother Brent played by Roger Colbert.

    In the New Maverick (followed by the series Young Maverick), Charles Frank played Beau’s son, Ben.

    When the theatrical movie was done with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner, there is nothing in the script to indicate that Gibson was not playing an extension of the character originated by James Garner. However, apparently it was pitched to Garner that he was playing the same character he originally played in the series of Bret Maverick Sr. and that Mel Gibson was actually playing Bret Jr.

  27. Posted 11/6/2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I saw all the wonderful comments (especially about Jack Kelly …aka. Bart Maverick). We had authoress Linda Alexander ….A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly, Jack’s wife …Jo and daughter …Nicole … on our show (On The Grid) yesterday Nov. 6, 2011. Here is the archived show (I think Jack Kelly fans will enjoy this)

  28. Greg
    Posted 11/9/2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Starz does not have Maverick on the schedule for 2012. Needles to say I’ll be dropping Starz

  29. Kevhines
    Posted 11/9/2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Boooo to Starz! First they cancel Party Down and now no Maverick! Booooo!

  30. Tom Hunter
    Posted 2/17/2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    HEY! In case you all weren’t aware – WB is finally going to start releasing MAVERICK on DVD!! The complete first season will be available at the end of MAY!!

    Hoping that sales will be strong enough to warrant issuing the entire series!!

  31. Kevhines
    Posted 2/17/2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Where did you hear this Tom Hunter? I hope it’s true!

  32. Nancy Bridge
    Posted 3/26/2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I watched Maverick in its original format (Yes, I am that old), but I enjoy it more on COZI TV every weekday am and 4 hrs on Saturday night. Again I have seen all three Mavericks, Moore, Kelly and Garner. Again, Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick is my favorite, James Garner – not so much and Roger Moore has just got to be James Bond (if Sean Connery relinquishes the title).

  33. Angela
    Posted 4/27/2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Kevhines, please learn to spell “than” and “emergencies” and add those words to your vocabulary.

  34. Kevhines
    Posted 4/28/2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Angela. I guess I focus on being polite on message boards, instead of snarky and rude, so that lets some spelling errors get through.
    Thanks for catching the mistakes!

    (oops, now that I was focused on fixing those spelling errors, I posted this snarky comment)

  35. Posted 5/5/2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Warner Archive has now issued all 5 seasons of MAVERICK on DVD, with Season 5 just out last week (4/29/14) in addition to the complete series (17 eps) BRET MAVERICK from 1981-82.

    Still daily at Encore Westerns channel at 1 PM Central.

    I agree that Season 2 is the show at its peak, but Season 3 had far more good episodes than bad despite the loss of Roy Huggins and (also damaging) the loss of the many recurring characters from the first 2 seasons (Dandy Jim, Samantha, Mike McComb, etc).
    Some of the finest Bart solo episodes are from that 3rd season, among them “You Can’t Beat the Percentage”, “A Tale of Three Cities” and “The People’s Friend”. “Maverick and Juliet” and “Maverick Springs” can stand with the best of any season as well.

  36. Kevhines
    Posted 5/5/2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    That’s great news! I haven’t bought DVDs in ages. I’d prefer to have them streamed somewhere, but I might need to buy the first 3 seasons of Maverick.

  37. Diane
    Posted 5/26/2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink


    I have loved MAVERICK since I was a kid! A local TV station in L.A. brought back Maverick in the late 70’s and again I was hooked on this wonderful show!
    I loved every one of the players (never saw the 4th player Colbert) and I loved every one of the brothers James Garner and Roger Moore, but my favorite was JACK KELLY!
    And of course I loved the shows song! Every show ended up a light comedy and that is what was so great about the show. No problem on the show was very serious and the Maverick brothers always redeemed themselves! Great, lovely, classy show that made one feel good about life!
    My favorite female player on Maverick was Samantha Crawford played by beautiful Diane Brewster! Loved her! My favorite show was ACCORDING TO HOYLE.

  38. Kevhines
    Posted 5/26/2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    You’ve seen more than me Diane!
    According to Hoyle is a great episode

  39. Chris
    Posted 6/21/2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    My dads favorite show when I was growing up in the 70’s & 80’s was Maverick. The local ABC station in Des Moines Iowa played it every Sunday evening to finish off it’s Sunday western block that started about noon. To be honest, I was glad when I heard the opening song because that meant that when it was over, Disney or one of us kids shows was coming on next, but it didn’t deter me from occasionally watching an episode with him.

    To be honest, I’ve never been much of a western fan till about 10 years ago, even now it’s only a few that I’d go out of my way to watch, but Maverick is one that I would. I came across season one on DVD about a week ago and purchased it, mainly because I wanted to see just how good the movie did in comparison. Well that and a bit of reminiscing as well.

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