‘Maverick’: James Garner Once Recalled How ‘Bart Maverick’ Star Jack Kelly Joined the Cast

by Megan Molseed

James Garner became a major star after starring in the classic TV western series, Maverick. However, Garner’s character, Bret Maverick, wasn’t the only memorable character in this popular TV series. The western touted some memorable performances from players across the board. And, among these players is Garner’s Maverick co-star, Jack Kelly, who portrays Maverick’s brother, Bart in the series.

In an interview with the prolific movie star, James Garner recounts how the role of Bart came about in the first place. It was a decision, Garner says, based on convenience and sheer availability.

“Production was six days and we only had 5, 5 1/2 [days] to shoot,” Garner says of the popular western series.

“We knew we were going to run out of shows to put on in a couple of months,” the longtime actor relates.

“And that’s where they came up with the idea of a brother,” James Garner remembers in an interview with The Television Academy.

James Garner recalls how Maverick showrunners “looked at a lot of people” for the role once the idea to bring in a brother was established. But, it was Kelly who established the rapport with the TV star.

“One day they brought Jack Kelly out at lunch,” Garner remembers.

The actor recalls how the Maverick producers wanted the two of them to stand next to each other, to see if they could pass as brothers. However, the two also hit it off immediately as they were instantly “laughing and joking” around.

James Garner Remembers How His Maverick Character Gained An On-Screen Brother When Jack Kelly Joined The Cast

By bringing in actor Jack Kelly to portray Bart, the brother of Garner’s Maverick character, the series opened up an opportunity to produce quite a few more episodes. Having two “stars” in the series let the showrunners balance things in a way that worked for everyone.

“He could do one, I can do one, and we can do one together,” James Garner says of filming the Maverick scenes with his costar.

Garner remembers how much fun he and Kelly had on the set of Maverick, noting that they “got along well.” However, the actor relates, Kelly’s wife felt that Garner was getting the “good” scripts of the two. But, Garner says, what the showrunners were doing was giving him the scripts that were heavy on humor, and Kelly the more serious options.

“Therefore I was getting a little more recognition,” Garner explains.

Garner remembers how the first time Jack Kelly’s Bart Maverick appeared in the series, it was in an episode that featured both actors. However, after that, the two split up, filming their own episodes almost simultaneously. However, Garner says, they would often pop in to see one another and even shoot a scene or two for the others’ episode.

“We did 39 shows the first year,” Garner says.

“I think it was 39,” he smiles. “Eight or 10 weeks we were [the] number one show on the air.”