Bat Masterson (TV series)

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Bat Masterson
GenreWestern
StarringGene Barry
Narrated byBill Baldwin
Theme music composerHavens Wray (David D. Rose)
Ending themeBill Lee (Singer)
Country of originUSA
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes107
Production
Producer(s)Frank Pittman
Andy White
Frederick W. Ziv
Location(s)Los Angeles
Running time30 mins.
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runOctober 8, 1958 – June 1, 1961
 
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Bat Masterson
GenreWestern
StarringGene Barry
Narrated byBill Baldwin
Theme music composerHavens Wray (David D. Rose)
Ending themeBill Lee (Singer)
Country of originUSA
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes107
Production
Producer(s)Frank Pittman
Andy White
Frederick W. Ziv
Location(s)Los Angeles
Running time30 mins.
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runOctober 8, 1958 – June 1, 1961

Bat Masterson is an American Western television series which showed a fictionalized account of the life of real-life marshal/gambler/dandy Bat Masterson. The title character was played by Gene Barry and the half-hour black-and-white shows ran on NBC from 1958 to 1961. The series was produced by Ziv Television Productions, the company responsible for such hit series as Sea Hunt and Highway Patrol.

Overview[edit]

The show took a tongue-in-cheek outlook, with Barry's Masterson often dressed in expensive Eastern clothing and preferring to use his cane rather than a gun to get himself out of trouble, hence the nickname "Bat". Masterson was also portrayed as a ladies' man who traveled the West looking for women and adventure.

From 1955 to 1959, Mason Alan Dinehart played a 20-something Bat Masterson in thirty-four episodes of the ABC/Desilu western series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian as the frontier peace officer Wyatt Earp. Dinehart left the series, and Barry was hence cast as a 40-something Masterson in a separate series on a different network. In the year 1958-1959 both actors were featured in the role of Masterson.[1]

The black derby, fancy vest, black jacket, and elegant cane were his trademarks. Miniaturized versions were marketed to children as tie-in products during the run of the show.[2]

The theme song was sung by Bill Lee, a member of the Mellomen

The series was loosely based on Richard O'Connor's 1957 biography of Masterson.[3] This was highlighted by the book's front cover being shown at the end of the closing credits with an onscreen notation "based on".

Guest stars[edit]

Bat Masterson guest stars included the character actor Robert F. Simon, who appeared as Harrison Whitney in the episode "Death by Decree", and Richard Eastham, who appeared in the 1961 episode "A Lesson in Violence". Stephanie Powers appeared in 1961 episode named "Dead Man's Claim" (using the name Taffy Paul) as Ann, the daughter of the Boarding House owner. George Macready appeared as Clyde Richards in the 1961 episode "Tempest at Tioga Pass". Quintin Sondergaard appeared in various roles on the series five times between 1958 and 1961. Dan Sheridan was cast as Joe Rankin in the 1959 episode "Election Day".

Yvonne Lime Fedderson was cast as Lola White in the 1960 episode "The Snare". Ron Hayes appeared four times in the role of Wyatt Earp. Gary Vinson appeared as Billy Thompson in the 1958 episode "A Noose Fits Anybody". Tyler McVey appeared from 1958 to 1961 in different roles in three episodes ("Dynamite Blows Two Ways", "Incident at Fort Bowie", and "Dead Man's Claim"). Ron Foster (1960) appeared twice as Toby Dawson in "Six Feet of Gold" and as Sheriff Buck Simpson in "Jeopardy at Jackson Hole" (1961). James Coburn also appeared in "Six Feet of Gold". Tom Greenway guest starred twice, as Charlie in "Buffalo Kill" (1959) and as Ben Pick in "Dagger Dance" (1961). Brett King appeared four times, beginning with the role of Hub Elliott in "License to Cheat" (1959); Douglas Kennedy was cast as Sheriff Jeb Crater in that same episode.

Diane Brewster, also known as second-grade teacher "Miss Canfield" in Leave It to Beaver and as gambler "Samantha Crawford" in Maverick opposite James Garner as well as in a single episode of Cheyenne, played the role of Miss Lynn Harrison in the 2-part episode "The Conspiracy" (1959). Kevin Hagen appeared as Ace Williams in "The Fourth Man" (1961). Lon Chaney, Jr., played the role of Rance Fletcher in "Bat Trap" (1961).

Comic strip and comic book[edit]

Dell Comics issued nine issues of a quarterly Bat Masterson comic book between Aug./Oct. 1959 and Nov. 1961/Jan. 1962 with the initial issue a Four Color tryout (#1013).[4] Columbia Features syndicated a comic strip from September 7, 1959 to April 1960 written by Ed Herron and drawn by Howard Nostrand (Sept. 1959-Dec. 1959) and Bob Powell (Dec. 1959-April 1960).[5] Notably Nostrand was assisted (on backgrounds) by Neal Adams who had just graduated from the School of Industrial Arts; it was among his first professional art jobs.[6]

Historical errors[edit]

One notable error occurs in episode 2:12, The Inner Circle. Bat campaigns for woman's suffrage in Wyoming territory in 1869—at the age of 16.

In episode 1:11, "General Sherman's March Through Dodge City", Bat is recruited to body guard General Sherman, and the General asks Bat if he fought in the war between the states, to which Bat replies that he was a little too young for that. The episode took place in 1876 and the war ended in 1865.

Other Barry roles[edit]

Barry went on to star in Burke's Law, a detective series set in modern-day Los Angeles, as well as The Name of the Game, a series in which he alternated the lead with Tony Franciosa and Robert Stack, appearing in most of his episodes with newcomer Susan Saint James.

Barry recreated the role of Bat Masterson in an episode of the television series Guns of Paradise (1990), alongside Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp, and again in 1991 in The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, also with O'Brian as Earp, as well as Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick and Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie.[7]

Syndication[edit]

An episode of Bat Masterson airs each weekday at 5 p.m. on the Encore Western Channel. The program had also run at that same time on the Encore Western Channel in 2007. The series has been occasionally shown on This TV.

Episodes[edit]

The series consisted of three seasons and 107 episodes:

Season 1 (37 episodes)[edit]

Barry as Masterson (1960)
Ep #TitleAirdate
1"Double Showdown"October 8, 1958
2"Two Graves for Swan Valley"October 15, 1958
3"Dynamite Blows Two Ways"October 22, 1958
4"Stampede at Tent City"
(with James Best and William Conrad)
October 29, 1958
5"The Fighter"
(with Marie Windsor and Robert J. Wilke)
November 5, 1958
6"Bear Bait"November 12, 1958
7"A Noose Fits Anybody"November 19, 1958
8"Dude's Folly"November 26, 1958
9"The Treasure of Worry Hill"
(with Ross Martin)
December 3, 1958
10"Cheyenne Club"December 17, 1958
11"Sherman's March Through Dodge City"December 24, 1958
12"Trail Pirate"December 31, 1958
13"Double Trouble in Trinidad"January 7, 1959
14"Election Day"January 14, 1959
15"One Bullet from Broken Bow"January 21, 1959
16"A Personal Matter"January 8, 1959
17"License to Cheat"February 4, 1959
18"Sharpshooter"February 11, 1959
19"River Boat"February 18, 1959
20"Battle of the Pass"February 25, 1959
21"Marked Deck"March 11, 1959
22"Incident in Leadville"March 18, 1959
23"The Tumbleweed Wagon"March 25, 1959
24"Brunette Bombshell"April 1, 1959
25"Deadline"April 8, 1959
26"A Matter of Honor"
with John Vivyan
April 22, 1959
27"Man of Action"April 29, 1959
28"Lottery of Death"May 13, 1959
29"The Death of Bat Masterson"May 20, 1959
30"The Secret is Death"May 27, 1959
31"Promised Land"June 10, 1959
32"The Conspiracy: Part 1"June 17, 1959
33"The Conspiracy: Part 2"June 24, 1959
34"The Black Pearls"July 1, 1959
35"The Desert Ship"July 15, 1959
36"The Romany Knives"July 22, 1959
37"Buffalo Kill"July 29, 1959

Season 2 (37 episodes)[edit]

Ep #TitleAirdate
1"To the Manner Born"October 1, 1959
2"Wanted -- Dead"October 15, 1959
3"No Funeral for Thorn"October 22, 1959
4"Shakedown at St. Joe"October 29, 1959
5"Lady Luck"November 5, 1959
6"Who'll Bury My Violence?"November 12, 1959
7"Dead Men Don't Pay Debts"November 19, 1959
8"Death and Taxes"November 26, 1959
9"Bat Plays a Dead Man's Hand"December 3, 1959
10"Garrison Finish"December 10, 1959
11"The Canvas and the Cane"December 17, 1959
12"The Inner Circle"December 31, 1959
13"The Pied Piper of Dodge City"January 7, 1960
14"A Picture of Death"January 14, 1960
15"Pigeon and Hawk"January 21, 1960
16"Flume to the Mother Lode"January 28, 1960
17"Death by the Half Dozen"February 4, 1960
18"Deadly Diamonds"February 11, 1960
19"Mr. Fourpaws"February 18, 1960
20"Six Feet of Gold"February 25, 1960
21"Cattle and Cane"March 3, 1960
22"The Disappearance of Bat Masterson"March 10, 1960
23"The Snare"March 17, 1960
24"Three Bullets for Bat"March 24, 1960
25"The Reluctant Witness"March 31, 1960
26"Come Out Fighting"April 7, 1960
27"Stage to Nowhere"April 14, 1960
28"Incident at Fort Bowie"April 21, 1960
29"Masterson's Arcadia Club"April 28, 1960
30"Welcome to Paradise"May 5, 1960
31"A Grave Situation"May 12, 1960
32"Gold Is Where You Steal It"May 19, 1960
33"Wanted -- Alive Please"May 26, 1960
34"The Elusive Baguette"June 2, 1960
35"The Big Gamble"June 16, 1960
36"Blood on the Money" with Walter CoyJune 23, 1960
37"Barbary Castle"July 1, 1960

Season 3 (34 episodes)[edit]

The actual Bat Masterson (1879)
Ep #TitleAirdate
1"Debt of Honor"September 29, 1960
2"Law of the Land"October 6, 1960
3"Bat Trap"October 13, 1960
4"The Rage of Princess Ann"October 20, 1960
5"The Hunter"
with guest star John Vivyan
October 27, 1960
6"Murder Can Be Dangerous"November 3, 1960
7"High Card Loses"November 10, 1960
8"Dakota Showdown "November 17, 1960
9"The Last of the Night Raiders"November 24, 1960
10"Last Stop to Austin"December 1, 1960
11"A Time to Die"December 15, 1960
12"Death by Decree"December 22, 1960
13"The Lady Plays Her Hand"December 29, 1960
14"Tempest at Tioga Pass"January 5, 1961
15"The Court Martial of Major Mars"January 19, 1961
16"The Price of Paradise"January 19, 1961
17"End of the Line"January 26, 1961
18"The Prescott Campaign"February 2, 1961
19"Bullwhacker's Bounty"February 16, 1961
20"A Lesson in Violence"February 23, 1961
21"Run for Your Money"March 2, 1961
22"Terror on the Trinity"March 9, 1961
23"Episode in Eden"March 16, 1961
24"The Good and the Bad"March 23, 1961
25"No Amnesty for Death"
(with DeForest Kelley)
March 30, 1961
26"Ledger of Guilt"April 6, 1961
27"Meeting at Mimbers"April 13, 1961
28"Valley of Death"April 20, 1961
29"The Fourth Man"April 27, 1961
30"Dead Man's Claim"May 4, 1961
31"The Marble Slab"May 11, 1961
32"Farmer with a Badge"May 18, 1961
33"The Fatal Garment"May 25, 1961
34"Jeopardy at Jackson Hole"June 1, 1961

DVD releases[edit]

TGG Direct released seasons the first and second seasons on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time on January 29, 2013.[8][9] The third and final season was released on November 5, 2013.[10] Due to licensing issues, the episode Terror on the Trinity is not included.

References[edit]

External links[edit]