Bat Masterson

1958 | United States

Based on the real-life exploits of William Bartholomew Masterson, a Dodge City lawman who preferred to use his wits instead of his fists and his cane instead of his Colt, Gene Barry (born Eugene Klass) made his TV series debut in this popular Western during the genre's golden age in 1958. 

Bat Masterson was a lawman, scout and professional gambler who had an eye for the ladies and counted among his friends the legendary Wyatt Earp. The grateful citizens of Dodge City presented his trademark cane, derby and specially designed gun to him during his tenure as sheriff. The part of a flamboyant and debonair lawman was one that Barry would recreate successfully in Burke's Law, amd The Name of the Game. The series style was no doubt influenced by the offbeat humour that had gone down so well with US audiences in Maverick, which had debuted the year before and in 1989 Barry briefly reprised the role for a single episode of Paradise

William Conrad, who went on to star as burly private detective Frank Cannon, directed a number of episodes. 

TRIVIA: Though his book contains some errors as a result of his attempting to debunk the accuracy of the persona Gene Barry depicted in the television series, Robert K. DeArment's Bat Masterson: The Man & The Legend, 1979, University of Oklahoma Press does a good job of documenting his origins.

Published on November 29th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.