Roger Moore with "co-star", 1959.
|Directed by||Leslie Goodwins
Charles F. Haas
Leslie H. Martinson
William A. Seiter
Herbert L. Strock
|Theme music composer||"Gold Fever" by
Mack David and
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||37|
|Executive producer(s)||William T. Orr|
|Producer(s)||Gordon Bau (make-up)|
Robert B. Warwick
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original release||October 4, 1959– June 19, 1960|
|Related shows||Appears to have
shared scripts but
not characters or
The Alaskans is a 1959-1960 ABC/Warner Brothers western television series set during the late 1890s in the port of Skagway, Alaska. The show features Roger Moore as "Silky Harris" and Jeff York as "Reno McKee", a pair of adventurers intent on swindling travelers bound for the Yukon Territories during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. Their plans are inevitably complicated by the presence of singer "Rocky Shaw" (Dorothy Provine), "an entertainer with a taste for the finer things in life".
The show was the first regular work on American television for the British actor Roger Moore.
Relationship with Maverick
The Alaskans is closely related to the ABC/WB series Maverick through broadcast and production. Maverick was the most prominent of ABC's Sunday night of western dramas. For the 1959-60 season, Sundays began with Colt .45 and Maverick, then John Russell's Lawman and Nick Adams' The Rebel, and concluded with The Alaskans.
This may have influenced the career path of Roger Moore. The same year that The Alaskans was canceled, James Garner left Maverick. Moore became, under protest, Garner's replacement, playing Bret Maverick's cousin Beau Maverick in the fourth season of Maverick.
Maverick and The Alaskans were also related through script, if not narrative. The two shows were not part of the same fictional world, as evidenced by a lack of crossovers between the two. Because of the 1960 Writers Guild of America strike as well as an ongoing Warner Bros. policy to save money on writers, however, The Alaskans inherited a certain amount of scripted material from Maverick. Moore bristled at the lack of originality in scripts: "An old Bronco script would interchange with an Alaskans or Maverick. In some cases, even the dialogue stayed unchanged." In 2007, Moore noted, "Quite often I realized that we were filming Maverick scripts, with the names changed." This made it simple for Jack L. Warner to envision Moore as Maverick since Moore had literally delivered Garner's dialogue while reshooting the same scripts with different names and locales.
Since the show has not been available to home audiences for more than forty years, independent verification of either claim is difficult. However, The Alaskans may have drawn from other series as well. One viewer has detailed which specific Maverick, Sugarfoot and Cheyenne episodes spawned clones on The Alaskans. Cannibalizing scripts was standard operating procedure at Warner Bros. television. Their first big hit in the detective genre, 77 Sunset Strip, was copied in analogous series such as Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside Six, and Hawaiian Eye, with only the locations changed - Los Angeles to New Orleans, Miami Beach, and Hawaii. The basic characters were identical with only the character parts which spoke in jargon being re-written e.g. horse racing tout to jazz slang. This pre-dated the troubles with the Writers Guild. 
Roger Moore's views
For Roger Moore, the series is memorable for being "my most appalling television series ever". In particular, he found that attempting to recreate Alaskan exteriors on a studio backlot in California made for disagreeably hot work days. The show also caused some marital strife for the actor when he had to admit to wife Dorothy Squires that he had fallen in love with co-star Dorothy Provine.
- Roger Moore as Silky Harris
- Dorothy Provine as Rocky Shaw
- Jeff York as Reno McKee
- Ray Danton as Nifty Cronin
- John Dehner in two episodes each as Cornish and Soapy Smith
- Roger Moore's official site
- Classic TV Themes entry for The Alaskans
- Classic TV Archive entry on The Alaskans
- Episode World's synopsis of The Alaskans
- The Alaskans at TVDays.com
- The Rebel at tvobscurities.com
- http://www.roger-moore.com/roger-moore-charity13.htm Moore, Roger and Ken Roche. "The Roger Moore Story". TV Times Extra. Independent Publications, Ltd. 1972.
- Moore answer to a June 2007 question on his official website
- WBTV Posse forum thread, giving parent episodes on other programs and their children on The Alaskans. Free registration required to view.
- http://www.roger-moore.com/roger-moore-charity12.htm Moore, Roger and Ken Roche. "The Roger Moore Story". TV Times Extra. Independent Publications, Ltd. 1972.