Saturday, August 30, 2014


Yesterday we took a look at the presence of Big Mike McComb on board that riverboat near the end of the movie "Maverick".  And I mentioned that Bret Maverick's other associates - Dandy Jim Buckley, Gentleman Jack Darby, and Miss Samantha Crawford - were not seen among the crowd of players and/or spectators.  (We already know the sad reason why Bart Maverick didn't make an appearance.)

But what happened to those other three "friends" of Bret?  Here are my suggestions.....

[played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.]

You'll notice that I put "friends" in quotation marks earlier.  These three were more con men than they were professional poker players like Bret.  As such they could never be fully trusted.  (All except for Big Mike, I think; his loyalty was never in question.)

But of them all, Dandy Jim was the most untrustworthy.  He had no compunction in the past to leave Bret behind in jail, charged with a murder for which Dandy Jim had been accused.  It's almost surprising that he came to Maverick's defense at all when they pulled that "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres".

So I think Bret sided with caution and never offered an invite to Dandy Jim to give him a hand in this riverboat gamble.

[played by Richard Long]

Although Gentleman Jack Darby helped out Bret with that "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres", he was better known to Bart Maverick.  You can't exactly call them friends, not when Jack got Bart arrested as the "real" Jack Darby when they first met.  But as long as Bart didn't ease his guard around Jack, they got along fine.

However, Gentleman Jack Darby pulled a long con on not only Bret and Bart Maverick, but on everyone who knew him... as Jack Darby.  That wasn't his real name.

It is the belief of the Toobworld Central committee that "Gentleman Jack Darby" was the alias used by Jarrod Barkley ('The Big Valley') during the years he sowed his wild oats after graduating with a law degree.  It was during this time that he met Bart Maverick in three episodes of 'Maverick': 

- Alias Bart Maverick (1958)

- The Spanish Dancer (1958) 

- The Goose-Drownder (1959)

(The broadcast order of 'Maverick' episodes is not that same as the order established for the Toobworld Timeline.  Chronologically, 'Maverick' jumped all over the map.  Sometimes they even overlapped.)

He may have been Jarrod here,
But that's a Gentleman Jack smile!
But Jarrod AKA Gentleman Jack soon returned home to Stockton, California, to begin practice as a lawyer and to help run the family ranch after the death of his father Tom Barkley.

But at one point during the 1870s, Jarrod felt it necessary to leave the ranch and pick up his old habits as "Gentleman Jack Darby".  This occurred after the death of Jarrod's wife Beth and Jarrod went nearly berserk with rage, nearly killing the man whom Jarrod believed was the murderer.  Becoming Gentleman Jack Darby again was one way to escape his true self.  

What gave him the idea was a message he received from Bart Maverick, asking for Gentleman Jack Darby's assistance in a scheme to help out his brother Bret.  (I suspect Jarrod used his law office in Stockton as a forwarding address for any mail he might receive as Gentleman Jack.)  Taking part in that "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres" was the tonic needed for Jarrod to restore his equilibrium and he was able to return to his mother's side to once again run the ranch with his brothers Nick and Heath and to watch over Audra, his younger sister*.  

Jarrod arrives back in Stockton,
Met at the train station by his mother, Victoria Barkley
I'd like to think that Jarrod Barkley lived far longer than the actor who played him, Richard Long.  (Usually I don't like to let a character well-established with one particular actor having a lifespan longer that that actor - Archie Bunker, and now Bret Maverick/Jim Rockford being good examples of that.  But in this case, if they recast Jarrod, they'd also be recasting the entire Barkley family, so any new production of 'The Big Valley' might as well be placed in an alternate TV dimension.)

Richard Long died of a heart attack just four days after his 47th birthday.  But I think we can assume Jarrod lived to a ripe old age, perhaps marrying again and starting his own branch of the Barkley family tree.  And who knows?  Maybe in the early part of the 20th Century, Bret Maverick Senior did send out a message for help from Gentleman Jack Darby once more.  But Jarrod would be too set in his ways as the patriarch of the Barkley family in Stockton to take up the call.....

[as played by Diane Brewster]

I saved the lady for last because her Toobworld story has more resonance for the "Maverick" movie......

Samantha Crawford was a confidence trickster and when necessary, a thief.  When we first met her on our TV screens, it wasn't even in an episode of 'Maverick'!  She teamed up with 'Cheyenne Bodie' during a cattle drive in the episode "Dark River".  (Roy Huggins, who created the character, would say that they were two different women, but if that had been the case, Toobworld Central might have felt compelled to move her appearance on 'Cheyenne' - and perhaps that entire series! - over to an alternate dimension, probably Pre-Toobworld.  And because of Cheyenne's connection to so many other TV Westerns and a TV movie, that would become problematic.  So this is one time when I have to ignore the Creator's vision.) 

Samantha Crawford appeared with Bret in the following episodes of 'Maverick'
  • "According To Hoyle"
  • "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres"
  • "The Seventh Hand"

(She was also in "The Savage Hills" with Bart.)  

But even though there would be plenty of other women in Bret's life afterwards - Modesty Blaine, Melody Blake, and Ellen Johnson among them - it would be Samantha Crawford who won his heart despite her being so untrustworthy.  Although not seen onscreen during the run of the show, Bret and Samantha eventually married and settled down - as best they could - to a life of normalcy.  (This would be the Toobworld splainin as to why we didn't see Bret in the last two seasons of the series.  Remember - the real world splainin about the contract dispute plays no part in Toobworld's "reality".)

Bret and Samantha had a son, Bret Junior.  But when Bret Maverick once again showed up on our TV screens - first with his nephew Ben Maverick, and then in the town of Sweetwater - there was no sign of nor any mention of Samantha or Bret Junior.  

I'm afraid the answer has to be that Samantha eventually died.  As for Bret Junior, Bret probably put him into a private school - and one where he could hone the family traits for gambling and gun play.

And that's why Samantha wasn't there on the riverboat - at least physically.  I'm sure she was still there in the hearts of her husband and her son.....

Happy Trails To You!

*By this point in time, brother Eugene Barkley had severed ties with the family and even changed his last name to "Barclay".  He established a newspaper in the Los Angeles area and began his own financial dynasty.  See the "Sins Of The Father" two-parter of 'Diagnosis Murder'.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Is there anybody out there who can help me identify who this actor is?

Is it pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that this mystery poker player could be a legendary TV cowboy who was also mysterious?  So much so that we never even learned what his real name was?

In the cast list for the movie "Maverick" at the "always reliable" IMDb, there are four actors listed as poker players on board the Lauren Belle riverboat whom I was not originally familiar with:
  • Cal Bartlett
  • Donal Gibson
  • Richard Blum
  • Chuck Hart
Thanks to Caeric ArcLight, I know now that the actor I had pegged as being Leo Gordon was actually Cal Bartlett:

And there's a photo attached to Donal Gibson's IMDb page so I know I can at least eliminate him for consideration as to the identity of this poker player.

Based on an obituary I found for "Chuck Hart", stuntman, he also would have been too young to have played this poker player in 1994.  (Although there might be a slight resemblance to Bill Hart, Chuck's father, who was also a stuntman.)

And that leaves Richard Blum.  Delving into a Google search (admittedly for only about five pages) showed only that Richard Blum - the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein - dominates that topic.  I would think an actor would try to get his image out there for the public to see......

So here's my question: Could this mystery poker player have been James Drury, the eponymous star of 'The Virginian'?  Drury is not listed in the movie's official credits, but the IMDb said he was there but uncredited.  And it looks like other sites from around the world have run with this information... information... information.  (Sorry about that, Chief.)

As mentioned in the post about Doug McClure's appearance in the movie, 'The Virginian' began in 1898 and on the Toobworld timeline it took up about ten years.  I've placed "Maverick" as a movie to be around 1913.  

Here are a couple of pictures of James Drury as characters from around that time frame window:

As Ethan Emerson in two episodes of 'The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr.'.  
This series was set 100 years into the past, marking it on the Toobworld timeline as taking place in 1891.

As Jim in "The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw".  
That TV movie was definitely set in the days leading up to the April, 1906 earthquake which leveled San Francisco.

(Although he was credited as Jim, there is nothing to dissuade me from believing that he was playing 'The Virginian'.)

If this mystery poker player is indeed James Drury, then there's no way he could have been 'The Virginian'.  He has aged too bleeping fast from the way he looked just seven years earlier in 1906.  

But I could see him being Ethan Emerson, a dozen years after the events of 'The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr.'.  Emerson was a banking tycoon living in San Francisco and a member of the Westerfield Club.  I could see him playing in the Big Game and even after losing it all still just consider it to be a loss of pocket change.  Even so, it looks like he didn't take too kindly to losing even if he did retire from the table gracefully.

However, that all depends on whether or not that poker player shown up top is James Drury.....



This month the TV Western showcase is dedicated to the movie version of "Maverick" and how it belongs in the TV Universe.  However, for the following blog post, I needed to take a moment and look at the timeline for 'The Virginian'......

'The Virginian' was the third longest-running TV Western in broadcast history with nine seasons, following 'Gunsmoke' at twenty seasons and 'Bonanza' with fourteen.  It was based on a novel by Owen Wister which was published in 1902.

'The Virginian' (later to be called "The Men From Shiloh") told about the cowboys who worked the Shiloh Ranch just outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming.  Shiloh went through several owners - Judge Garth, the Grainger Brothers, and Colonel MacKenzie.  But the main focus of the series was on the eponymous ranch foreman (whose real name was never revealed on the series) and on Trampas, good ol' boy with a winning smile for the ladies.

The Virginian was played by James Drury and Trampas by Doug McClure.  And both are supposed to be in the movie "Maverick".

I say they're supposed to be, because even though McClure is plain to see during the Big Game on the Lauren Belle riverboat - and is listed in the credits - Drury (as far as I can see) can't be found.  I wouldn't even have bothered to look for him if it hadn't been for the "ever reliable" IMDb claiming that he was in the movie but uncredited.

Of the poker players listed as being in that scene, there are two others whom I only know are in it by their names; I don't know what they look like.  And then there's Don Stark of 'That '70s Show' and the TV version of "Robocop" - him, I should recognize, but I can't find him either.

We'll get back to James Drury in another post today (Two For Tuesday!), but now I want to focus on Doug McClure's presence as a poker player.  And because it ties in with James Drury, I'll begin by discussing the timeline for 'The Virginian'.

There are several web sites out there claiming that 'The Virginian' takes place in the 1880s, with one even getting more specific:

"The series setting was the year 1886, based on the 1902 novel by Owen Wister. Wister’s story."

But none of them offers any proof to this claim.  Meanwhile, Wikipedia places the story in 1898 and can back that claim up:

The series was set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Various references in the first season indicate that setting is about 1898 - in episode 5, "The Brazen Bell," guest star George C. Scott quotes from Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which was first published in 1898, in episode 7, "Riff Raff," several of the main characters join Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry unit formed in 1898 and in episode 11, "The Devil's Children," the grave marker for one of the characters that dies in the episode states 1898 as the year of death.

Those are pretty strong indicators and so I'm siding with 1898 as the year in which we first start following the adventures of "The Men From Shiloh".

With nine seasons to account for on the Toobworld timeline, 'The Virginian' probably was still active in the timeline by at least 1907.  This means that when we saw Trampas and the Virginian during Brady Hawkes' journey to San Francisco to take place in the "Big Game" of 1906 (actually held on April 17, 1906), they were still working for the Shiloh Ranch.  (This is despite the fact that the credits would have us believe that they were two other cowboys by the names of "Doug" and "Jim".  If the names were actually used during the TV movie "Gambler IV: The Luck Of The Draw", then it could have been that they were using aliases for some reason.)

Just something to consider before we look at James Drury and whom he might have played in the movie - if he was actually in it........

Thursday, August 28, 2014


We can connect so many of the riverboat poker players in the movie "Maverick" to other TV Westerns, but it's always nice when we can forge a link back to the series that inspired the movie.  And there are a few.

Here's one of them.....

Bert Remsen had the honor of playing at one of the tables with Bret Maverick, Junior, serving as just one more stepping stone as Bret advanced through the ranks to sit at the final table.  (It would look as though that table where Bret and Bert played may have been an old-timers' table......)

One of Bert Remsen's first acting jobs and his first Western, I believe, was an episode of 'Maverick':

Deputy George
- "The Jail at Junction Flats" (1958)

Deputy George was left so flustered by the antics of Bret and Dandy Jim Buckley that I would not be surprised if he finally decided to quit working as a lawman and instead try his hand at making a living by playing poker.  (If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.*)

To have reached that championship marathon, he must have been pretty good.  But his memory may have been slipping in his dotage - otherwise he should have recognized Bret Maverick Senior from back in Junction Flats.  Of course, it's always pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that he was in on the whole scheme and was working with the two Mavericks as extra protection.  That's why he maneuvered to play alongside Brett until the penultimate game.  (It was a nice extra touch as "George" shook hands with Brett Junior and wished him well in the big deal coming up.)


* Pappy always used to say "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  And if you can't join 'em, best to leave the county."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


As we've been doing all month, we're looking at the movie "Maverick" and its place in the TV Universe rather than in the Cineverse, all in memory of James Garner.

With all of the poker players we've connected to other TV Westerns, it's nice to finally be able to claim one was actually from the parent series of 'Maverick'.

[played by Leo Gordon]

To look at him, one might think Big Mike McComb was good for nothing more than hired muscle when it came to con games.  But the burly Irishman was adept at thinking on his feet and putting a little finesse into any game of poker in which he took part.

Big Mike was the first of Bret Maverick's "friends" whom we met - right from the very beginning in the "pilot"* episode of "War Of The Silver Kings".

Here is the rundown of the 'Maverick' episodes in which Big Mike McComb appeared:

- War of the Silver Kings (1957) 

- According to Hoyle (1957)

- Plunder of Paradise (1958)

- Shady Deal at Sunny Acres (1958)

- The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill (1959) 

Of the others, the most important entry would be "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres" in which Bret's friends (and his brother Bart) rallied to Bret's aid when he needed to put one over on the crooked banker in town.  Big Mike showed up as did Miss Samantha Crawford, Dandy Jim Buckley, Gentleman Jack Darby, and the aforementioned Bart Maverick.

So I'm quite comfortable in claiming that Big Mike McComb was the poker player portrayed by Leo Gordon at the Crystal Palace in Crystal River.  He was in the game with Maverick, Mrs. Bransford, Johnny Hardin, Angel and two other men.

But if he was Big Mike McComb, how come there was no recognition or acknowledgement of Bret Maverick Junior when he introduced himself to the other players?  I can only think that there had to have been bad blood between Big Mike and Bret Maverick Senior at some point which led to a falling out.

If this supposed feud happened before Bret Junior was born, Big Mike might not have even known of Junior's existence.  But he probably wasn't in the mood to bring up that he knew his father, especially if it meant having to explain what had happened between Bret Senior and himself.  And why waste that effort when he was just there to play poker?  (If their quarrel happened after Bret Junior was born, the same argument would apply.)  

But there was always the possibility that Big Mike didn't know about Bret Junior's existence and might have figured that this young'un was trading in on Bret Senior's reputation as a gambler.  The Old West of Toobworld was full of gunfighter impersonators, mostly of Doc Holliday.  And once there was even a Charles Dickens impersonator who visited Carson City in Nevada when the real Dickens never even made it past the Mississippi River.  So why not an impersonator of a famous gambler?  (Although it's plain to see that the others at the table never heard of this Bret Maverick.)

But by the time Bret had shown up to play, Big Mike had already met one other impersonator - the kid claiming to be John Wesley Hardin.  Big Mike must have figured that calling out Bret might lead to accusations against "Johnny Hardin"... and who needed that.  Like I said, Big Mike was just there to play poker.

Happy Trails To You!

* Warner Brothers forced the show's creator Roy Huggins to use "War Of The Silver Kings" as the first episode because it was very loosely inspired by a book in the WB library.  That way the studio was able to cheat Huggins out of his monetary due as the creator of 'Maverick'.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Mr. Hightower was one of the few poker players on the riverboat to actually have his name said out loud.  As he left the table for the last time, the dealer announced that "Hightower has left the table."

Mr. Hightower was an ancestor to a character who was better known for his presence in the Cineverse - Moses Hightower, a police officer who graduated from the "Police Academy".  But he did make one appearance in Toobworld, in an episode of 'Police Academy - The Series'.  

And by then he had become Captain Moses Hightower.

So we have one character who was in a movie based on a TV show, and his great-grandson who was a character in a TV show episode based on a movie franchise.

This is probably the best example this month of a "Little Big Screen" showcase!

Happy Trails To You!


I don't have much to say about the presence of William Marshall among the poker players on the Lauren Belle.  He may not have had much to do compared to some of the other participants, but he certainly had presence.
There are a few TV Westerns in which he had single-episode roles - 'Rawhide', 'Bonanza', 'The Wild Wild West'.  But if I were to make any connection for him, it would be to his role as Judge Marcus Black on the short run of 'Rosetti And Ryan'.  His gambler could have been the founder of that family tree.

Of course, I could take it even further than the late 20th Century in a way that would make the two hearts of a sci-fi nerd beat faster - this family tree could stretch on for a few centuries more, culminating in Dr. Richard Daystrom in the 'Star Trek' episode "The Ultimate Computer".

 I'm not sure I'd want to add the Cartoon King from 'PeeWee's Playhouse' to that lineage.....
And then there's the crazy dream that somehow there was a trans-universal crossover between Toobworld and the Cineverse, and there's some sort of connection between Marshall's gambler and his most famous role - that of "Blackula"!!

But that would be wrong....

Happy Trails To You!

Monday, August 25, 2014


One of the characters seen in the "Maverick" movie can't make a theoretical link back to the original TV series, but he certainly can be found in the sequel, 'Bret Maverick'....

Toothless Tim Teal was helping Bret out with a scam known only as "The Hidalgo Thing" around the turn of the century.  (Nowadays I guess I have to specify that it was the dawn of the 20th Century.)

Over ten years later, Toothless Tim was able to help out the Maverick Family once again.  By that time, Mr. Teal was working as the room clerk at the Crystal Palace hotel in a newborn town along the Crystal River out West.  Thanks to wise investments of the money he got from working with Bret, he may even have been the owner of the joint.

So besides riding into town on an ass to conduct business at the local bank, Bret Maverick Jr. was probably planning to spend at least one night at the Crystal Palace.  Junior probably figured that his father's old friend would certainly have room for him.

Happy Trails To You!

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Just because we're celebrating James Garner as Bret Maverick during the month of August, that doesn't mean we can shirk Sunday services.....

 [in alphabetical order]

SOLOISTS: Clint Black, Billy Dean, Amy Grant, Waylong Jennings, Hal Ketchum, Reba McEntire, Restless Heart, Tammy Wynette.....

All proceeds from this song went to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation......