|1971 - 1972
Set in the 1914 town of Nichols, Arizona,
James Garner starred as Nichols, a drifter who returned to his hometown,
founded by his parents, only to be blackmailed into
being sheriff by Sara "Ma" Ketcham (Neva Patterson),
the town's most influential figurehead whose
clan had taken over the place.
When Nichols first arrived in town, he
stopped off at the Salter Saloon for a drink,
flirted with Ruth the barmaid, got into a fight
with Ketcham who considered Ruth his gal and
caused about $300 damages.
Since Nichols didn't have the money to pay
for the damages to the bar, Ma Ketcham, the law
in town, sentenced him to a six month tour as
While Nichols reluctantly accepted his fate,
he used his spare time to come up with get rich
schemes and looked forward to the day he served
his sentence and was free of Ma Ketcham's web of
treachery. To earn some spending cash, Nichols
also took a temporary job as the town's saloon
Prior to arriving in town, Nichols served in
the US Cavalry 19th Unit for 18 years. Despite his military
background, he wasn't much for using a gun but
he was good with his fists being the division
boxing champion while in the army. But, if
Nichols had the choice, he'd rather smooth talk
his way out of a problem than resort to
violence. He'd seen enough of that in the
When it came to transportation, Nichols
preferred one of them newfangled
motorcycles to a horse. Ma Ketcham's son Ketch
drove an automobile [license: AB1Z].
Other citizens of Nichols, Arizona included:
- Stuart Margolin as "Mitch" Mitchell,
the town bully who worked as Nichols' deputy. Mitch has a dog named Slump
and dutifully reported to Ma Ketcham.
- John Beck as Ketcham "Ketch", Ma's
- Margot Kidder as Ruth, a barmaid
and Nichols' lady friend. For protection, she
carried a derringer, a hatpin and at night she
kept a Colt .45 pistol beneath her pillow.
- Alice Ghostley as Bertha, the saloon
- John Harding as Salter, the owner
of the Salter House Bar and Hotel where
Nichols lodged in Room 3.
- Richard Bull as Judge Thatcher.
- Paul Hampton as Johnson.
- Emmet Walsh as Gabe McCutcheon.
- Joe Brown, Jr. as the Preacher.
During his stint as sheriff, Nichols:
- Hired a band of less that professional mercenaries to attack an
- Negotiated with a Mexican bandit who brought his troops to
town to ensure he got proper dental care for his bad teeth.
- Commandeered a daredevil biplane pilot named Orv into
searching for killers from
the air. Nichols joined forces with the same pilot to rescue an Army
Captain's kidnapped daughter being held hostage in Mexico.
- Organized a baseball team to compete against an Army team.
- Fended off trigger happy looters after an earthquake
- Investigated conmen selling phony gold mines to the locals.
- Jailed an escape artist who proved difficult to keep behind
- Intervened in a final showdown between two aging gunfighters
who have been feuding for 20 years.
- Tried to collect the reward for Jesse James when he discovered
the outlaw was alive and hold up in town.
- Challenged a professional fighter in the boxing ring.
A short time after Nichols accepted the position of
sheriff, he was killed while breaking up a bar-room brawl. Several
days later, Nichols' twin brother, Jim, a
more dynamic, meaner, mustachioed fellow came to town to avenge his
brother's death. Jim found his brother's killer, refused an offer
to be sheriff, and left town.
The series was titled JAMES GARNER AS NICHOLS
a few weeks after the short-lived series aired
in hopes that the lead actor's name would attract
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