The Man from Blackhawk | TVmaze

THE MAN FROM BLACKHAWK (1959-60) 37 EPISODES                  

It is generally believed that this short-lived series was created to take advantage of the popularity of ‘private eye’ television series such as 77 Sunset Strip at the time. It starred Robert Rockwell as Sam Logan, an insurance investigator from the Blackhawk Insurance Company, but varied from the standard western series in that the hero dressed in a suit and drawstring tie instead of the classic cowboy apparel. He also preferred to use his fists, rather than a gun to bring perpetrators to justice. Not every episode of this series took place in the West, however, as Logan journeyed to the city of New Orleans on one occasion, to the whaling industry of coastal New England on another; to the Bowery in New York City, and even to Montreal, Canada in another segment. Unfortunately, the series failed to catch on with the public.

10 things to know about Our Miss Brooks

Robert Rockwell & Eve Arden in Our Miss Brooks

Rockwell is one of those second-tier actors whose name has disappeared into the mists of television history for most fans, although his face would be immediately recognizable to fans of the popular fifties series Our Miss Brooks (1952-6). The former Republic Pictures contract player put in over 350 appearances in TV shows over fifty years, but it was his stint as the awkwardly handsome biology teacher, Mr. Boynton, opposite Eve Arden in Our Miss Brooks, that beamed his face into living rooms around the world. Along the way he also appeared in over two hundred commercials and voiceovers. His 60-year marriage produced five children and ended with his death from cancer at 86 in 2003.

Do You Remember... "Man Without a Gunl".

MAN WITHOUT A GUN (1957-9) 52 EPISODES           

Somewhat similar to The Man from Blackhawk, the hero in this show tried to solve issues without resorting to firearms although not always successfully. Rex Reason played Adam MacLean, editor of the Yellowstone Sentinel located in the town of Yellowstone in Dakota Territory. On the occasion that MacLean was unable to get his message through to the bad guys via his editorials, there was always Marshal Frank Tallman (portrayed by Mort Mills) to tidy things up with his six-guns. Mills would later appear as a semi-regular on Bonanza (1959-73). Man without a Gun focused on the editor’s moral ethics and his use of common sense to bring outlaws to justice. In fact, the show was used as a schoolroom in the 1950s to teach youngsters about decency and the differences between right and wrong. Perhaps, all this moralizing wore thin with audiences for the show folded inside two years.

Do You Remember... "Man Without a Gunl".

Rex Reason was the older brother of Rhodes Reason, an even lesser-known actor than he was. Rex was offered the co-starring role in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), by Frank Sinatra as a professional nod to him, (they had done a screen test together for From Here to Eternity (1953), the picture that re-ignited Frank’s career). However, at the time, Rex had just completed starring in the TV series The Roaring Twenties (1960) and, disillusioned with acting, had quit the business and gone into real estate instead. Sinatra was unable to contact him so the role eventually went to Laurence Harvey. Bladder cancer took Rex at eighty-six in 2015.

As for Mort Mills, he was yet another actor whose name has been long since forgotten by TV fans, but whose face, most likely, would be immediately familiar to those old enough to recall the early days of television. In fact, he even graced a few quality films as well – Touch of Evil (1958), Psycho (1960) and Torn Curtain (1966) – among them. In 1993, it was inaccurately reported that he had been smoking in bed, had fallen asleep and had burned to death in the subsequent fire. The coroner later amended the cause of death, stating that Mort had perished from a heart attack prior to the fire. He was seventy-four.

Maverick: Old Memories


10 things you never knew about 'Maverick'

James Garner as Bret

I was twelve years old when television started in my hometown in 1959, and one of the first series purchased and screened by our local channel was this one. There were two Maverick brothers – Bret and Bart – played by James Garner and Jack Kelly respectively. Jim Garner stole the show lock, stock and barrel, which may sound a tad harsh on Kelly who was a fine actor himself. But Garner had ‘superstar’ written all over him. Come to think of it, my mother thought so too. She had a crush on him that lasted about thirty years!

Bart Maverick Tumblr posts -

Jack Kelly as Bart

Two seasons into its run, the brothers were joined (for sixteen episodes) by their English cousin Beau, played by none other than the up-and-coming Roger Moore, a future James Bond. All three appeared together occasionally, but episodes were generally alternated between Bret and Bart. The well-dressed gamblers would drift from town to town looking for a card game, usually five card draw poker. The traditional western, according to producer/creator Roy Huggins, revolved around a situation that was always serious, but never hopeless, whereas a Maverick episode was always hopeless, but never serious. And therein lay the show’s enormous popularity. It never really took itself seriously.

Maverick | Nostalgia Central

(L to R) Jack Kelly, Roger Moore & Robert Colbert

In 1960, during the writers’ strike of that year, Warner Brothers suspended Garner without pay, so he promptly sued the studio. Warners’ claim that the suspension was justified, because there were no scripts available during the strike, was proven in court testimony to be a blatant lie. The studio had, in fact, secretly obtained one hundred television scripts during the strike. The court ruled in Garner’s favour and he was released from his contract with the series. Moore was assured that he was not brought into the show to replace Garner, but when he went to the costume department, all his clothes had the name ‘Jim Garner’ semi-scratched out on them. Roger left after sixteen episodes because he felt the quality of the scripts had deteriorated since Garner’s departure. Only Kelly would appear in all five seasons of Maverick.

8 time-defying tidbits about 'The Time Tunnel'

Colbert & James Darren in The Time Tunnel (1966)

A measure of Garner’s appeal and popularity in this series was aptly demonstrated in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, in April 2006, when a ten-foot high statue of him, dressed as Bret Maverick, was unveiled. He was on hand for the ceremony. Back in the sixties, the producers cast Robert Colbert (future star of The Time Tunnel (1966) series), as Brent Maverick, and had him dress identically to Bret in a desperate attempt to recapture the magic Garner had projected. Mortified with the prospect of being compared to the former star, Colbert told the producers, ‘Put me in a dress and call me Brenda, but don’t do this to me!’ He lasted just three episodes.


  1. Alan, I’m with you in regards to enjoying history. So I was thrilled when The Time Tunnel debuted on ABC in 1966. However, as I watched each week’s stories I quickly realized that the show wasn’t making much of an attempt for historical accuracy. Then it got into aliens and fantasy plots!

    At that time I didn’t realize that producer Irwin Allen wanted his television series to be all show with little or no depth. I will say though that his Time Tunnel set was lavish and more like something you’d expect in a feature film than a 1966 TV show.

    I’m also with you on Star Trek:TOS, Alan. Up to that point my taste in science fiction wasn’t terribly sophisticated. Back then I thought SF shows should all be along the lines of what I saw each week on Irwin Allen’s four SF TV series.

    Trek came along and suddenly I’m now drawn into a SF TV show such as I’ve never seen before. It was different and intelligent and engaging to me. Not the mindless action adventure fluff of Lost In Space that I was used to seeing.

    It made me expand my thinking as to what SF could really be and that it can be intriguing and intellectual at the same time.

    Alan, how do you feel about the Star Trek shows that followed the original series?

    • I rarely watched them, Mike. I guess the original series spoiled me for the rest. I really loved the clever ways in which they used logic and innovation to extract themselves from seemingly impossible situations. Spock was my hero, even more so than Brett Maverick!

    • I rarely see them, Mike. I guess the original series spoiled me. I loved the way they came up with a truly difficult situation and then got out of it using logic and innovation. SPock was my hero, even more so than Brett Maverick.

  2. Robert Rockwell would appear as Kryptonian scientist Jor-El (father of Kal-El AKA Clark Kent/Superman) on the first episode, “Superman on Earth,” of the Adventures of Superman TV series (1952~1958.)

    Maverick started out with just James Garner (Bret Maverick) as the lead each week. However, the shooting schedule proved so arduous that Warner Brothers decided to add a brother Bart (Jack KellY) so they could alternate episodes each week with one week being Jim while the next week being Jack.

    The two brothers would team up together for several episodes over the course of the series. The only other card player that Bret was fearful of was his brother Bart.

    Maverick was created as a fresh take on the plethora of TV westerns that existed at that time. Instead of the laconic, stalwart hero that was so common on westerns, Maverick was a refreshing change of pace.

    It was a comedy when no other westerns were played for laughs, at least not much. Maverick’s goal in life is pure and simple: money. Not exactly the most ennobling of traits in a person.
    He didn’t ever love his horse and would much rather travel by stagecoach. In fact, he’d sell his horse in a second to drum up cash for a poker game.
    He wasn’t the fastest draw in the west like every other TV cowboy was.
    Maverick would rather duck a fight than get embroiled into one if he could help it.
    A damsel in distress rarely got his attention. On on episode a woman approached Bret for help and he promptly directed her to the marshals’ office. That is until she mentioned that she could pay a large reward for his help. Now Bret was keenly interested.

    Bret and Bart both liked to quote their pappy (Pappyisms) from time to time. “Marriage is the only game of chance that I know where both sides lose.” “Man is the only animal that you can skin more than once.” “Hard work never hurt anybody—who didn’t do it.”

    The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences honored Maverick in 1958 with Emmy nominations for Best Dramatic Series and Best New Series. The show did not win in either category but it was a huge honor as westerns were seldom nominated for any Emmy Awards.

    James Garner would return to the role in his 1981~1982 TV series “Bret Maverick.” The show was terrific and employed even more humor in it than the original series. Sadly, it was cancelled after just one season in spite of decent ratings. It was the sundown of TV westerns by then.

    Robert Colbert would go on to co~star as Doug Phillips on Producer Irwin Allens’ “The Time Tunnel” which ran from 1966 to 1967.
    The pilot episode cost a whopping $575,920 which was the most expensive sum ever spent onto any television pilot at that time.

    Unfortunately for science fiction and history fans such as me, the show wasn’t very good beyond some of its awesome production values.

    Allen didn’t care about accuracy at all. He referred to his sci-fi TV shows as “running and jumping shows.” He wanted action even at the expense of compelling stories and characters.

    Whereas Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), Leslie Stevens/Joseph Stefano (The Outer Limits) and Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) endeavored to have their respective series be intellectually intriguing and profound with imaginative stories and rich character development, Allen had no such interest regarding his shows. In the end his series were all sizzle and no steak.

    • I grew up watching ‘Maverick, Mike. Jim Garner was my mother’s favorite, her crush. Being a historian, I had a thing for ‘The Time Tunnel, but there were a limited number of well-known situations into which Doug and Tony could be pitched. Pity. Star Trek (the original series) was simply outstanding in every way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.