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Riverboat was a television that never quite developed it's audience. My guess is that the reports of the fighting on set which I well remember got more attention than the show itself.
Darren McGavin who had a few film credits, most notably The Man With The Golden Arm and a half hour version of Mike Hammer that ran in the middle fifties was the captain of the Riverboat Enterprise and star of the show. Who could possibly have known what an illustrious history that name for vessels would have?
His co-star was young Burt Reynolds in what was to have been his first big break. Like John Wayne in The Big Trail which was supposed to make him a big star, it flopped and Reynolds would have to wait a few more years for stardom.
The main thing was how the two of them didn't get along, McGavin and Reynolds. If we had tabloid TV back in those days, McGavin and Reynolds would have been feature stories. Maybe one day Burt Reynolds will tell us the reason, we certainly can't hear it any more from McGavin.
John Mitchum's rollicking memoir, Them Ornery Mitchum Boys, does devote a bit of space to Riverboat. Bob's younger brother was a series regular and he does say that the cast generally sided with Reynolds, feeling that McGavin was the heavy here. He also said that everyone else also felt that Reynolds was a star in the making.
It wasn't a bad series, but it will be more known for the offstage battling than anything else.
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