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Gunsmoke's The Fugitives TV Episode: James Olson & Russell Johnson Guest Star

Gunsmoke's The Fugitives debuted on Monday night, October 23, 1972. James Olson plays bank robber Bede Stalcup, an outlaw on the lam who summons Doc Adams when his younger brother is injured in a riding accident. Regulars James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis and Buck Taylor are also joined in the cast by Russell Johnson, Vic Tayback, Troy Melton and Darrell Larson.

Gunsmoke (1955-75) featured some of the tube's best western action. The 1972 episode "The Fugitives" guest stars James Olson as Bede Stalcup, an outlaw who has his gang kidnap Doc Adams in order to treat his badly-injured kid brother.

Gunsmoke's The Fugitives: Cast & Credits

Charles Joseph Stone wrote the teleplay for "The Fugitives," with Irving J. Moore 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)
  • Bede Stalcup (James Olson)
  • Bill Hankins (Victor Tayback)
  • Link Parrin (Russell Johnson)
  • Curly Danzig (Troy Melton)
  • Danny Stalcup (Darrell Larson)
  • Sam Noonan (Glenn Strange)
  • Nathan Burke (Ted Jordan)
  • Horseback Rider (Bert Madrid)

James Olson - Paramount Pictures

The Fugitives: Episode Synopsis

The Bede Stalcup Gang has just robbed the bank in Meade, leaving several people dead in their wake. Now on the run, Bede and his gang are headed to a deserted cabin where they plan to hole up for a few days. Bede and his young "pup" brother Danny race to the cabin, with Danny subsequently thrown from his horse and impaled by a tree branch.

Bede removes the branch from Danny's stomach and orders two of his men to ride to Dodge City for a doctor. Meanwhile, a tired Doc Adams sets off for a nearby ranch in the early morning hours with Festus Haggen at the reins. Doc is to deliver a baby, but before he and Festus arrive they are ambushed by the two Stalcup gang members, who deliver them to the deserted cabin.

At gunpoint an angry, agitated Bede orders Doc to fix up his brother. Doc gives the kid a one in one-hundred chance of surviving. Festus Haggen escapes his captors, eventually hooking up with Matt Dillon and his posse. They return to the cabin where Festus sneaks up on Bede and his men, lunging forward and earning a nearly fatal wound to the back.

Festus and Danny Stalcup are taken back to Dodge City. Danny doesn't survive the trip, but Festus does, though he has lost a lot of blood. Doc then proceeds to remove the bullet from Festus' back, but isn't sure if Festus will pull through.

The Fugitives: Air Date & Network Competition

"The Fugitives" aired over CBS on Monday night, October 23, 1972, in the 8-9 (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was the police drama The Rookies (ABC) and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC).

The Fugitives: Analysis & Review

Gunsmoke featured a vast array of outlaws during its spectacular 20-year run on CBS. In "The Fugitives," we have James Olson (1930-) as Bede Stalcup, a mean, surly outlaw leader who orders his gang to Dodge City to pick up Doc Adams, whose medical services are badly needed to treat Bede's injured brother.

Bede Stalcup doesn't rate as one of Gunsmoke's more intelligent outlaws. With his brother half-dead after being impaled by a tree branch, the unsteady Bede points a gun at Doc, ordering him to fix up Danny as they plan to ride out tomorrow. An appalled Doc duly informs his captor that his patient – provided he lives of course – will be in shape to do no such thing.

Doc frees Festus from their captors, with ol' Festus later outwitting his two pursuers down near the Cimarron River. The enterprising Festus rides a cow to freedom (really!), thus leaving no human footprints in the mud for his trackers to follow.

"The Fugitives" is an outstanding episode exploring the Festus Haggen/Doc Adams friendship. They may pick at each other incessantly, usually while enjoying a beer at the Long Branch, but that's just a diversion masking their true fondness for one another. Doc really gets emotional in this segment, where he tells Kitty that he's not sure if he should immediately remove the slug resting in Festus' back. Doc proceeds anyway, safely garnering the slug with Festus later regaining consciousness.

Strong, steady Matt Dillon disposes of bad guy Bede Stalcup, using a well-positioned door at Doc's office to send old Bede into dream land. The episode ends on a humorous note, with a recovering Festus telling his friends at the Long Branch how he managed to elude his pursuers down by the river. The tale takes on biblical implications – think Moses parting the Red Sea – with an incredulous, impatient Doc once again giving Festus hell.

"The Fugitives" hails from Gunsmoke's 18th season and is episode #570 of 635 in the series.

Top Image

  • Gunsmoke's famous Dodge City TV logo - CBS-TV

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.

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