Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jack Kelly: The Missing Maverick :(

Hi Everyone,

I spent almost 10 minutes yelling at the TV this evening.


I was witnessing an outrage.

No, not an episode of Two and a Half Men.

Actually, it was an episode of the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television focusing on the western genre.

It opened with grainy Dust Bowl footage, over which narrator Kelsey Grammer solemnly intoned the tale of a young man named "Jimmy" who overcame an impoverished childhood and grew up to become a national hero.

An astronaut? The President?


Yes, little "Jimmy" grew up to be James Garner. And, after watching this segment, if one had never seen Maverick, one might have thought Garner was the whole show.

"America loved Maverick because they loved James Garner," Grammer gushed.

Okay, a few years ago, I would have thought nothing of such overly effusive praise. James Garner was Maverick, and I didn't know any different.

Then, I started watching Maverick and discovered the show actually had another star in addition to Garner: Jack Kelly. And, he played Maverick longer than James Garner did.

But, was JK credited this evening as a pioneer of television? As the other star of Maverick? At all?

Nope, although he could be glimpsed for a second or so in two black-and-white stills. Meanwhile, Garner was showcased in color stills and in film clips from the show.

Perhaps the creators of Pioneers of Television thought, "Well, maybe it will be simpler if we mention only James Garner. And, he's still alive, so we can interview him."

However, they later discussed The Wild Wild West and interviewed star Robert Conrad. They also lauded his late co-star, Ross Martin.

They spotlighted the Gunsmoke gang, too. That segment wasn't just a valentine to James Arness. It also acknowledged his supporting cast, nearly all of whom are now deceased.

And, Linda Evans warmly remembered Barbara Stanwyck, the late star who portrayed her mother on The Big Valley.

So, they could have also given Jack Kelly his due if they'd wanted to. But, instead, they made their tribute to Maverick a tribute to James Garner. As I've said before, I have nothing against Garner; I've enjoyed watching his performances over the years. But, there was so much more to Maverick than just James Garner, and he was not the only reason people watched and loved the show.

Once again, however, the true history of TV was headed off at the pass, and Bart was the missing Maverick...