Born July 18, 1914;
Litelle, Washington, USA
Died April 3, 2002;
Santa Monica, California, USA
Maverick Creator, Producer
and Executive Producer
Around 1945, Roy Huggins began his writing career in the pulp-magazine Raymond Chandler mold. His first novel, “The Double Take,” was bought by Columbia Pictures. He insisted on writing the screenplay himself, which became the film “I Love Trouble.”
By 1956, Huggins had begun writing and producing in television, and was handed the task of retooling Warner Bros. new western series Cheyenne to appeal to adults rather than children.
His ideas worked, but he began to feel restricted by the Western format. He felt the stories and characters were too formulaic, becoming predictable within the first few minutes. He began to imagine a western where the hero would think and react in the reverse of traditional expectations. While the approach wasn’t new in film, it was unheard of in television. Huggins saw the huge potential in poking fun at genre conventions in a new medium where the Western was king.
One day, Huggins was watching the dailies of an episode of Conflict, a Warner Bros. anthology series he was producing. James Garner, a young Warners contract actor, had a supporting role as a small-time hustler. Huggins noted that when the actor delivered his lines, he got laughs throughout the room. The reading of those lines hadn’t come from the director, but from Garner himself. Huggins realized that he could build the western character and series he had in mind around Garner.
Huggins sold the concept of Maverick to Warner Bros. to produce for ABC’s 1957-58 season, but because of a mandate by studio head Jack Warner, he would not be allowed credit as series creator, and locked out of the appropriate royalties. A few years later, he considered how all the successful shows produced by Warner Bros. were his creations, or warmed-over versions of his ideas. Along with this and other differences with the studio, he wanted out of his contract.
After a bout with double pneumonia, brought on by over-work for the studio, he left the series. Without Maverick’s visionary, the show soon began to suffer. James Garner himself wanted out of the series after Huggins’ departure, and left just before the end of the third season under a contract dispute of his own. Without Garner, the show quickly slid in the ratings and ran out of momentum after two more seasons.
Huggins went on to develop some of the most popular series in television, including The Fugitive (which borrowed a forgotten element from the original concept of Maverick), and The Rockford Files, a kind of updated version of Maverick, recasting James Garner as a modern-day private investigator anti-hero.
01. War of the Silver Kings (1957)
02. Point Blank (1957)
03. According to Hoyle (1957)
04. Ghost Rider (1957)
05. The Long Hunt (1957)
06. Stage West (1957)
07. Relic of Fort Tejon (1957)
08. Hostage (1957)
09. Stampede (1957)
10. The Jeweled Gun (1957)
11. The Wrecker (1957)
12. Trail West to Fury (1958)
13. The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick (1958)
14. Escape to Tampico (1958)
15. The Thirty-Ninth Star (1958)
16. Brasada Spur (1959)
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Maverick™ and its various marks are trademarks of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., © 1957, 1994
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