Friday, November 4, 2011

G'Day, Maverick! :)

Howdy Everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't posted much lately. I experienced a computer upgrade that tangled up some of my files, and then had some internet connection problems.

Thankfully, it looks like things are getting back to normal, so let's take a look at Maverick as it was viewed Down Under--in Australia, that is.

I recently found a trove of articles about Maverick and JK from The Australian Women's Weekly, a magazine published from 1933 until 1982.

In 1959, the publication pondered the enormous popularity of TV westerns, including Maverick:

"...At times it seems as if every man in America wishes he had a gun and could travel, and every female longs for a man who does.

Why should this be? What is it these western heroes have in common? Why should every man, woman and child in America suddenly be crazy about them?

Obviously a lot of different types of actors can succeed in westerns. The heroes come in all shapes, sizes, looks, and talents. What makes the public love them all must be inherent in the western story itself.

...Is it the costume?

In part it certainly is. If a man has any muscle at all, those tight shirts and trousers show it. More than that, the costumes make a man look older and wiser. Take, for instance, Jack Kelly, who stars as Bret Maverick's TV-brother, Bart.

As Kelly's wife once said: 'When Jack puts on that Maverick outfit he takes on maturity; he looks older. And women want to see a man, not a little boy.

'Jack and the rest of these heroes represent a kind of manhood and mature sex appeal we haven't seen on the screen for a long time. In fact, maybe Hollywood's mistake in the past ten years was trying to make heroes out of kids who looked about 15.'"

"...Is it because woman are sick of too much civilisation and long for the strong silent man of the prairies?

Probably in part. Roy Huggins, a TV producer with considerable experience in westerns, believes that one of things women find attractive is that [the heroes are] lone men pitted against the world.

They ride into town alone at the beginning of the show, fight their battles, charm the women, and ride out alone again.

Viewers who have been watching the TV western from the beginning may remember that in the first few episodes Cheyenne violated this rule; Clint Walker had a sidekick. When Huggins was called in to work on the show, one of the first rules he laid down was that the sidekick had to go.

From Cheyenne Huggins has moved on to Maverick, where he has created quite a different type of hero--also a loner and undomesticated, but in a much lighter vein.

Women viewers surely have the feeling that whereas Cheyenne would protect them, they would have to protect themselves against Maverick. [B27 - ?!]

After dealing with two such different types, Huggins decided the secret of the western's popularity is not so much its hero as its atmosphere.

'The great thing about westerns,' he says, 'is that nobody ever works. You never see anybody building a house or ploughing a field.

'If the hero does want a job, with some vague kind of duties which seem to be mostly riding horses around the ranch and kidding around with the pretty daughter of the family, nobody ever asks him what's his social security number, what union does he belong to, where are his letters of reference.

'This is the American dream of total, carefree mobility. The hero rides into town, gets off his horse, and walks into the saloon--all the men in town seem to spend all day in the saloon--and everybody in the audience says, 'Lord, what a wonderful time to live...''"

Of course, the last original episode of Maverick aired in the US in April 1962. But, the series' final season didn't air in Australia until that autumn. The Australian Women's Weekly noted then:

"One of TV's hardy perennials, the western spoof series Maverick, is currently showing a new-old mix of shows here.

When the series began filming in America about six years ago, Maverick was a western with a lot of difference.

Whimsical and sometimes satirical, it chronicled the adventures of two brothers--Bret (James Garner) and Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly)--in the Old West. But these boys didn't go in for gunplay. They got out of trouble, often poker-provoked , with fast talkin' and not fast drawin'.

They also quoted their old pappy: 'It isn't how you play the game that counts, it's winning.' And, 'If at first you don't succeed, try something else.'

The party went on for two years and then--trouble.

James Garner left the series after bitterly fought legal battles with the studio, Warner Brothers. Jack Kelly carried on, and acquired various other 'relations' (including Roger Moore as Cousin Beau). But, Maverick has just never been the same without that Garner oomph. [B27 - Some fans think it's just fine with the Kelly oomph! ;-)]

Consequently, the show now running in Australia features some new shows (with Kelly) and some reruns (with Garner). "

Incidentally, the TV columnist for The Australian Women's Weekly later noted that "Ben Casey" met "Bart Maverick" when a certain film aired on Australian TV in 1963:

"Two of today's TV stars, Dr. Casey (Vincent Edwards) and Mr. Maverick (Jack Kelly)--were struggling young actors in 1955. Then they both appeared in a thriller called The Night Holds Terror. Jack is the goodie and Vince is the oh-so-baddie and this (fascinating) film will be [network] TCN9's 'Monday Movie' on April 15."

And now, a little birdie has told me that Linda J. Alexander, the author of the eagerly awaited biography A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story, will discuss the book on Saturday, November 5, at 10:00 am ET, on the "On the Grid" internet show. Click here to join in the fun! And, keep watching "TDS" for more info
this soon-to-be released book! :)

(Clip art courtesy "")