Biography of the 1950s movie and television actor, Jack Kelly, co-star of TV's Maverick. In real life, Jack was a child performer, son of New York model, Nan Kelly, brother of actress Nancy Kelly, brother-in-law of actor Edmond O'Brien and cinematographer Fred Jackman Jr. On American television, he portrayed James Garner's brother on Maverick (1957-1962). Women often said that he was the reason they tuned in, and they still say that, even though the show’s been in re-runs for decades.
His best-known films included A Crooked Road (1954) with Mickey Rooney, To Hell and Back (1955) with Audie Murphy, and The Forbidden Planet (1956) with Leslie Nielsen. In the late 1960s on American television, Jack hosted Sale of The Century, starred in Get Christie Love (1975), and also appeared on The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (1977) series. After he retired from show business, he served as a City Councilman and Mayor of Huntington Beach, California, and he was also a newspaper publisher. He loved some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, became a husband, and would probably tell everyone that his greatest joy was in being a father.
Review of A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story
With A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story, author Linda Alexander lassoes the reader's interest and doesn't turn it loose until the very last sentence as she explores the colorful life of Jack Kelly, who played charming brother "Bart" to James Garner's wily "Bret" on the popular Maverick television series.
Ms. Alexander introduces us to the actor, born John Augustus Kelly, Jr., whose theatrical family roots stretched all the way back to Ireland. Kelly's mother Nan was an ambitious model who pushed all but one of her four children into show biz careers. His older sister was Nancy Kelly, who began acting as a child and matured into an acclaimed leading lady. Jack Kelly himself performed as a youngster in films, in radio, and on stage. Following a grown-up stint in the military, he moseyed back into films and then into television.
After headlining on Maverick for five years, Kelly drifted into perennial TV guest stardom, pausing along the way to appear in movies and in summer stock. He even emceed a game show. Kelly also made successful forays into business and politics. He served as city councilman and mayor in Huntington Beach, California--while still accepting occasional acting roles--before his tragic death at age 65 in 1992.
A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story is a brisk read, but it doesn't skimp on detail or on insight into Kelly's life. In addition to thoroughly researching her subject, Ms. Alexander obtained invaluable input from Kelly's family members (including both of his wives and his beloved daughter) along with memories from his fellow thespians such as Sir Roger Moore and James Drury, star of The Virginian.
The author unmasks the complicated human being inside the ebullient entertainer and pulls no punches. For example, many fans have wondered why Jack Kelly's success on Maverick didn't translate into enduring major stardom. Ms. Alexander traces part of the answer to Kelly's predilection to alcohol. She also reveals that the actor's formative family ties kept him bound far into adulthood. He was deeply affected by upheavals in his personal and professional lives and by events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Yet, Kelly remained in denial about his own life-threatening health condition until it was too late.
However, A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story is by no means a "downer". The reader also meets the Jack Kelly who was a loving father, a lively practical joker, an accomplished golfer, an expert cook, a talented writer, a dedicated politician, and a man who genuinely loved--and was loved by--some of the most glamorous gals in Hollywood.
And, once and for all, Linda Alexander busts the myth that Jack Kelly was just the "other guy" on Maverick. Ms. Alexander uncovers the behind-the-scenes intrigue and restores Kelly to his proper place in the Maverick equation.
A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story is generously illustrated with rare black and white photos from all phases of Kelly's life and career. Plus, the arresting color portrait on the cover perfectly captures the handsome actor in his most famous role: Bart Maverick.
As Linda Alexander puts it, "Jack Kelly really LIVED". A Maverick Life: The Jack Kelly Story proves that he did, indeed.
- La Bartista, The Talk Dark Stranger There
If you yearned for the inside story of what Warner Bros. did--and didn't do--for the "Maverick" brothers (Bret and Bart) in James Garner's autobiography, and didn't get it, you'll certainly find it in A MAVERICK LIFE: THE JACK KELLY STORY, a richly researched accounting by Linda Alexander of the "Maverick" years that deals not only with Kelly's "younger brother Bart" situation, but also of the strict WB contracts, James Garner's lawsuit and eventual exit, salary disputes, the writer's strike, the suffered promotional abuse, references to Clint Walker, Ty Hardin, producer Roy Huggins, Roger Moore and Robert Colbert, among others. Also presented is Jack's very personal life, his struggling younger years, his relationship to sister Nancy Kelly, his marriages to May Wynn (they hated the name) and Jo Kelly, Jack's daughter Nicole, his politics--and, sadly, his likely self-destruction from booze. As for books on "Maverick," this time kid brother Bart trumps big brother Bret. Jack's biography is a Royal Flush!- Western Clippings