CBS-TV's Gunsmoke (1955-75) is one of television's most revered westerns. The 1973 episode "The Widowmaker" guest stars Steve Forrest as Scott Coltrane, a legendary gunfighter who comes to Dodge City to live down his reputation as one of the Old West's fastest guns.
Gunsmoke's The Widowmaker: Cast & Credits
Paul F. Edwards penned the teleplay for "The Widowmaker," with Leonard Katzman producing and Bernard McEveety directing. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are:
- Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness)
- Doc Adams (Milburn Stone)
- Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake)
- Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis)
- Newly O'Brian (Buck Taylor)
- Scott Coltrane (Steve Forrest)
- Dad Goodpastor (David Huddleston)
- Kid Chama (Randolph Roberts)
- Teresa (Barra Grant)
- Sam Noonan (Glenn Strange)
- Nathan Burke (Ted Jordan)
- Hank (Hank Patterson)
- Buck Lennart (Jerry Gatlin)
- Preacher (James Chandler)
- Boy (Don Carter)
- Deak Towler (Rand Bridges)
- Sundog Wheeler (J.R. Clark)
- Townsman (Arthur Tovey)
Steve Forrest appeared in four Gunsmoke episodes (CBS-TV)
The Widowmaker: Episode Synopsis
The stage arrives in Dodge City carrying Scott Coltrane a.k.a. "The Widowmaker," reputed to be one of the fastest guns alive. Coltrane has come to Dodge to meet his young wife Teresa and settle down on a spread just outside town. Greeting Coltrane upon his arrival are three menacing gunmen – Buck Lennart, Deak Towler and Sundog Wheeler – who have combined forces to exact revenge against their adversary.
Coltrane attempts to place himself under the protection of the law, but the three gunslingers are having none of it. They face Coltrane down, drawing their six-shooters where they are immediately shot dead by Coltrane's lightning-quick gun hand. Witnessing the event is deputy marshal Festus Haggen, who deems Coltrane the fastest gun he's ever seen.
Although the killing of Buck Lennart and his compatriots was clearly self defense, Matt Dillon warns Coltrane that he may have to leave Dodge simply because of his reputation, which is sure to attract gunslingers from all over Kansas and beyond. Coltrane assures Dillon that he has come in peace, hoping to hang up his guns and settle down with his pregnant wife on his own farm outside Dodge.
Dad Goodpastor and his young protégé Kid Chama come to Dodge City looking for Coltrane. The Kid and his backer aim to goad Coltrane into a gunfight and add to the Kid's already sterling reputation as a fast gun. Coltrane obliges the Kid, making quick work of him in a pre-arranged gunfight down by a pond at sunrise.
Fearing that more gunfighters will follow, Matt Dillon orders Coltrane out of Dodge City, with the two eventually coming to blows in the marshal's office. A beaten Coltrane, however, has no intention of leaving.
The Widowmaker: Air Date & Network Competition
The Widowmaker was telecast over CBS on Monday night, October 8, 1973, in the 8-9 PM (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was The Rookies (ABC) and Lotsa Luck and Diana (NBC).
The Widowmaker: Analysis & Review
For those TV western fans who enjoy stories about gunfighters, look no further than "The Widowmaker," one of Gunsmoke's finest episodes. Big Steve Forrest (1924-) has the title role of Scott Coltrane, whose well-deserved moniker "The Widowmaker" testifies to his deadly prowess as one of the fastest guns alive.
Steve Forrest, who appeared in a total of four Gunsmoke segments from 1969-73, bid farewell to the long-running CBS western via his final appearance in "The Widowmaker." And what a farewell it is, with Forrest turning in a bravura performance as a gunfighter trying to outrun his colorful, deadly past.
The action comes early when Forrest's Scott Coltrane steps off the stage in Dodge City, where he is immediately confronted by a trio of sinister gunmen. The latter go for their six-shooters, with Coltrane more than living up to his reputation as he sends all three men reeling into the dust.
Although many believe the legendary Coltrane had died some years back, Marshal Dillon immediately knows who he is, warning the gunfighter that his days in Dodge City are numbered if trouble comes looking for him. The wily Dillon believes Coltrane is sincere about hanging up his guns, and later devises a plan whereby the two brawl in Dillon's office. A beaten Coltrane later returns to Dodge, calling Dillon out. In the ensuing gunfight Marshal Dillon gets the upper hand, laying Coltrane out in the street, whereby Doc Adams pronounces him dead.
Scott Coltrane's funeral takes place, after which Matt Dillon rides out to the Coltrane farm where he is greeted by Teresa, Coltrane's "widow." A very much alive Scott also appears at the door, where Matt hands them some papers and addresses them as "Mr. and Mrs. Tyler." With Scott Coltrane officially dead, he and his pregnant wife can now bury the past and move on with their lives.
"The Widowmaker" is chock full of good performances, with the always dependable Steve Forrest leading the way. Barra Grant is excellent as Teresa, giving a moving speech in one scene on how they will raise their unborn son. David Huddleston shines as a sleazy ex-gunfighter-turned promoter named Dad Goodpastor. "Hey, little hefer," Huddleston calls it out in one rowdy saloon scene, "bring us another bottle of that bug juice." Look for Randolph Roberts as Kid Chama, a young buck looking to add to his gunfighting reputation but who instead winds up six feet under after challenging Coltrane's gun at sunrise.
"The Widowmaker" hails from Gunsmoke's 19th season and is episode #592 of 635 in the series.
- Gunsmoke's famous Dodge City logo - CBS-TV
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.