Steamboats in the Movies
Universal Studios Prop Boat Enterprise in
The TV Series Riverboat

Riverboat Series Promo 2 page spread without binding at center


The Barrier - Season 1, Episode 2

broadcast 9/20/1959:

"Vance Muldoon offers Government agent Carruthers a chance to earn some money - by sneaking liquor to a tribe of Indians."

Character names and Actors in the lower left corner identified LEFT to RIGHT:

Vance Muldoon: William Bendix (title character from "The Life of Riley" T.V. series)

Abigail: Elizabeth Montgomery (before she starred as Samantha the witch 5 years later on "Bewitched")

Carruthers: John Kerr (who played Lt. Joe Cable in the movie of the musical "South Pacific" the year before)

Ben Frazer, pilot of the ENTERPRISE: Burt Reynolds.

steamboats in movies

A number of episodes of the 1959 - 1961 TV series RIVERBOAT are available from NETFLIX. Attached 12 screen captures from the first DVD. 8 of the images are of a scale model. The distributor credit for the DVD's is Timeless Media Productions.


Publicity still:
Darren McGavin as Captain Grey Holden
NBC-TV Saturdays 7-8 pm


RIVERBOAT Darren McGavin with Valerie Allen


Darren McGavin as Captain Grey Holden on the swinging stage of the ENTERPRISE with actress Valerie Allen whose character was given no name but referred to only as "Brunette at table"

Episode entitled "JESSIE QUINN"
Season 1 | Episode 12
First aired December 6th, 1959

in the movies

Publicity still of Darren McGavin as Captain Grey Holden in the pilot house set of the ENTERPRISE for the Universal TV series RIVERBOAT


A 1959 publicity still of "Captain" Darren McGavin and "Pilot" Burt Reynolds standing on the fantail next to the sternwheel of the ENTERPRISE at Universal where the RIVERBOAT T.V. series was filmed.


RIVERBOAT signed color 8 x 10 of McGavin and Reynolds

eBay listing from January/February 2019 with Universal's "Enterprise" sternwheeler from the RIVERBOAT series. Color 8 x 10 featuring and signed by co-stars Darren McGavin as Captain Grey Holden and Burt Reynolds as Pilot Ben Frazer.

Riverboat Series Promo Title IMPROVED 40 percent EXP

This was from a very unusual promo booklet from 1959 promoting the upcoming RIVERBOAT series.

The steamboat graphic is of a boat that wasn't built until 40 years after the time period when the series was supposed to take place. The engraved illustration represented the REBECCA EVERINGHAM who was on a U.S. postage stamps 1996:

The "Rebecca Everingham" was considered the most luxurious of the steamboats on the Chattahoochee River. It was build in Columbus, Georgia in 1880. It had more than two dozen ornate staterooms and a capacity of 120 passengers and about 1,000 cotton bales. It operated from Columbus and Apalachicola between 1880-84. It was destroyed by fire at Fitzgerald's Landing, four miles above Florence, GA, on April 3, 1884, with a reported 11 fatalities. The fire reportedly was caused by a falling particle of carbon from an electric light. The boat was mid-stream when the alarm was sounded.


Links to two unusual recordings from the late 1950's on YouTube of Elmer Bernstein's theme for the RIVERBOAT TV series. The first is a sometimes "corny" orchestration of the music that was played in a more conventional arrangement under the opening and closing titles of each episode.

The second is a "leisurely & smoky" vocal sung by Monica Lewis in her guest role as "M'liss McCabe" in the Season 1 Episode 4 RIVERBOAT episode entitled "A RACE TO CINCINNATI" It was released on a Bristol Records 45 rpm single which might have had an orchestral arrangement of the song on the "flip side."


composed for the RIVERBOAT TV series by Elmer Bernstein
from the LP "Double Impact" (themes from television shows)
Available from

Orchestra conducted by Buddy Morrow
(available on CD from amazon)

Provided to YouTube
by The Orchard Enterprises


RIVERBOAT (1959) - Sung by Monica Lewis

Bristol Records K7OW-1045 45 rpm
from NBC Production "Riverboat" music by Elmer Bernstein

Monica Lewis Tribute
Facebook video

Note on facebook from Monica Lewis:

"I sang this leisurely Southern-flavored tune, "Riverboat," during a guest shot in an episode of the 1959-61 NBC series of the same name—a television "Midwestern" starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds and centered on a riverboat traveling the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers.

With music by the great Elmer Bernstein and lyrics by Irvin Graham, the song was released as a 45 rpm by a label called Bristol Records in 1959—the year my episode aired.

Special thanks to my Facebook friend Tom Wagner for locating this old tune of mine.

oxo, Monica"
September 9, 2014


All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.