OTR Western – Gunsmoke – Doc Holliday

This episode of Gunsmoke was first broadcast on CBS Radio on July 19, 1952.

In a Dodge City saloon, Thorne Finley provokes a fight with a man he believes to be a “pasty-faced tenderfoot”. Unbeknownst to him, that “dude” is actually the notorious gunfighter, Doc Holliday. Marshall Dillon recognizes his old friend, and throws Thorne in jail before the fight can continue.

Thorne’s father is Big Jack Finley, a cattle baron who owns a good portion of Kansas. Big Jack has coddled Thorne his whole life, and now uses his influence to keep his son out of jail. As Marshall Dillon notes, Thorne been arrested for 18 offenses, convicted of 10, but has spent no time in jail and paid only $15 in fines. Matt Dillon refuses to release Thorne and rejects Big Jack’s offer of a $200 a month job “protecting his interests” by ignoring Thorne’s crimes in the future. But Big Jack manages to get a judge to sign an order releasing Thorne from jail.

Doc Holliday is quite ill and under orders to go to Arizona where the dry air will be better for his lungs. He was invited by Wyatt Earp and his brothers to visit the mining town of Tombstone. But he has a “chore” to do in Dodge City first: avenge the murders of Ruth Davis and her brother. Both of their deaths were thought to be accidental, but Holliday believes they were murdered. He intends to shoot the killer: Big Jack Finley.

This is one of my favorite episodes of Gunsmoke. Veteran old time radio actor Harry Bartell’s portrayal of Doc Holliday is superb. He comes across as a seemingly mild man with an undercurrent of ruthlessness just beneath the surface.

This episode stars William Conrad as Matt Dillon and Parley Baer as Chester Proudfoot. It features Harry Bartell as Doc Holliday and also Lee Millar, Nestor Paiva, Ralph Moody, and Tom Tully. You can download it from the old-time radio section of the Internet Archive here:

Download Gunsmoke – Doc Holliday – July 19, 1952

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