Monday, December 18, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 17: A Christmas Baby from Gunsmoke (1959)

Since I featured one of my favorite series yesterday with Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar - it makes sense that I go with one of my other super-favorite series.  A little Western you might the name of Gunsmoke.  The stories and production quality on that series are simply outstanding - and they are a pleasure to listen to.  If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148). It is particularly good this week with all Christmas themed programs.  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

Farms at Sunset in Saline, Michigan - Saturday January 10, 2015
Farm in the snow near my house in Saline, Michigan (January, 2015)
When most old time radio fans list their favorite five or ten programs, Gunsmoke is almost always on the list somewhere.  It is certainly on my list and a definite top five - if not higher.  The first western for adult audiences on radio, this CBS produced show featured the best cast, the best stories, and the best production values.  Gunsmoke had one of the best casts on radio, a group that stuck together during its entire run (1952 to 1961).  Each radio episode started the same way, with the narrator setting the scene:

Around Dodge City and in the territory out west, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers... And that's with a U.S. Marshal, and the smell of...Gunsmoke! 
Gunsmoke!... the story of the violence that moved west with young America. And the story of a man who moved with it...
Then, Matt Dillon would chime in... 
I'm that man...Matt Dillon, United States Marshal. The first man they look for, and the last they wanta meet. It's a chancy job, and it makes a man watchful. And a little lonely...

CBS radio superstar William Conrad starred as Marshal Matt Dillon, He was joined by Howard McNear as Doc Charles Adams, Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell, and Parley Baer as Dillon's assistant Chester Wesley Proudfoot.  They were often joined by the stars of CBS radio, most commonly it seems was John Dehner, who almost always played the bad guy.  Joseph Kearns also was a regular guest on the show, and was featured in the Christmas episode featured today.

First aired on December 23, 1956 (and reused on December 20, 1959), Beeker's Barn tells the story of a young lost couple trying to make their way in the cold snowy storm in the area around Dodge City on Christmas Eve.  In the driving snowstorm, they needed to seek shelter.  And when they realize that they are approaching a barn, the grim reality is that there is something familiar about this place strikes the pair.  For the young woman, named Harmony, it was all too familiar.  It was the farm of her estranged father.  And while she and her young husband Ross would have liked to be anywhere else, they knew that they needed to find a place to rest, especially with the baby on its way.

The owner of the barn, Jethro Beeker, stormed into Marshall Dillon's office the next day, demanding that he toss out the unwelcome guests.  While Marshall Dillon agreed to go out to the barn, he tried to convince Jethro that he should be kind to a stranger at the holidays.  When Matt realized that it was his daughter and her husband and that they were going to have the baby soon, he called off Jethro and called in Doc!  What they received that day was a wonderful Christmas gift that brought them together again.

There are two versions, both offered here with different stars (I love the Joseph Kearns script).  He is one of the best names in radio, especially on CBS.  The 1956 original stars Ralph Moody as Jethro Beeker.  Enjoy them both!

Beeker's Barn (Gunsmoke - December 20, 1959 with Joseph Kearns)

Beeker's Barn (Gunsmoke - December 23 1956 with Ralph Moody)

Here are some links to programs relating to Gunsmoke:

      Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

      25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

      25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

      25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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