GUNSMOKE - THE MISSING EPISODES
by Stewart Wright © 2009
(From Radio Recall, February 2010)
In terms of audio copies of Gunsmoke, there are still six missing episodes. They are:
05/03/1952 - Ben Thompson
05/17/1952 - Dodge City Killer
06/14/1952 - Jailbait Janet
06/21/1952 - Heat Spell
06/28/1952 - The Ride Back
06/19/1960 - Homely Girl
I have copies of the scripts of the five missing 1952 episodes. These were discovered, along with those for most of the other 1952 episodes, in 2007 in an archive where they had been misfiled for about 25 years.
"Jailbait Janet" is one of the many Gunsmoke episodes that was produced twice; the second production was on 06/28/1959. There were many dialog differences between the two productions. Also, there were different guest casts in the two "Jailbait Janet" productions:
06/14/1952 production: (John Dehner, Sammie Hill, Harry Bartell, and Paul Dubov.)
06/28/1959 production: (Vic Perrin, Sam Edwards, Bart Robinson, and Barbara Eiler.)
While several OTR Dealers claim to have the 06/14/1952 production; none actually do. I have purchased the supposed copies from a half dozen dealers. In each case, they have proven to be a mislabeled copy of the 06/28/1959 production.
I have also acquired via trades and downloads, an additional 16 copies in cassette tape, audio CD, and MP3 formats that repute to be the 06/14/1952 production of "Jailbait Janet." Again, in every case, they have proven to be mislabeled copies of the 06/28/1959 production.
It is possible that there are some missing Gunsmoke episodes in the Library of Congress:
A search I made earlier in 2009 of Library of Congress (LOC) Recording Collections database indicates that the LOC has copies of at least two of the missing 1952 episodes: 06/14/1952 - "Jailbait Janet" and 06/21/1952 - "Heat Spell."
I have not had an opportunity to listen to them and verify their existence. If they actually are in the LOC's collection, they will probably never get into circulation.
Ben Thompson Audio Fragment:
A fragment of one of the missing Gunsmoke episodes, 05/03/1952 - “Ben Thompson” does exist. The fragment is approximately 7:43 minutes in length and covers most of the first act. I have a copy of this fragment in audio CD and MP3 formats.
Gunsmoke Radio Scripts
In my Gunsmoke research of many years, I have found and viewed scripts for 398 of the 480 Gunsmoke radio broadcast episodes. This past year has been quite productive in regards to locating Gunsmoke scripts. I found 52 Gunsmoke scripts on-line in Adobe Acrobat PDF format; including 12 scripts that were not previously known to exist. I also found an additional 13 Gunsmoke radio scripts that were not previously known to exist in an independent archive that mainly holds television scripts.
You may also be interested in the Gunsmoke Forum that I have been moderating for over nine years at the following web site:
This forum contains an incredible amount of information on the series including detailed plot lines of the five "missing" 1952 Gunsmoke episodes.
It is one many Old-Time Radio Forums on The Nostalgia Pages web site. Charlie Summers, the moderator of The Old-Time Radio Digest, is the moderator of The Nostalgia Pages web site.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stewart Wright is an vintage radio researcher and historian in Colorado. He has written extensively on this series and others, particularly on the subject of suspected “rebroadcasts” and the re-usage of scripts from series to series.