Gunsmoke's Eleven Dollars debuted on Monday night, October 30, 1972. Diane Shalet guest stars as Charity Spencer, a young woman who heads to Abilene following the death of her father. Regulars James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis and Buck Taylor are also joined in the cast by Susan Oliver, Josh Albee and Ike Eisenmann.
CBS-TV's Gunsmoke (1955-75) spanned three decades on the small screen. The 1972 episode "Eleven Dollars" features Ken Curtis as Festus Haggen, who journeys all the way to Abilene to settle up with family friend Charity Spencer.
Gunsmoke's Eleven Dollars: Cast & Credits
Paul Savage penned the teleplay for Eleven Dollars, with Irving J. Moore in the director's chair. Regulars, guest stars and supporting performers are:
- Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness)
- Doc Adams (Milburn Stone)
- Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake)
- Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis)
- Newly O'Brian (Buck Taylor)
- Sarah Elkins (Susan Oliver)
- Charity Spencer (Diane Shalet)
- Chad Elkins (Josh Albee)
- Clay Elkins (Ike Isenmann)
- Jeb Spencer (E.J. Andre)
- Nathan Burke (Ted Jordan)
- Sandor (Roy Engel)
- Beckwith (Phil Chambers)
- Halligan (Charles Wagenheim)
- 1st Wolfer (Sam Edwards)
- 2nd Wolfer (A.G. Vitanza)
- Hotel Clerk (Owen Bush)
- Claire (Gloria LeRoy)
- Charlie the Bartender (Tom Waters)
- Townsman (Bert Madrid)
Susan Oliver (1932-1990) - nndb.com
Eleven Dollars: Episode Synopsis
Jeb Spencer is dying, with the old man eliciting a promise from Festus Haggen that the U.S. deputy marshal will watch over his daughter after he's gone. Jeb later dies in his sleep, with Festus bound and determined to keep his promise to his departed friend.
Jeb's daughter – the 28-year-old Charity Spencer – tells Festus that she wants to see a bit of the world. She's headed to Abilene where she plans to stay at a popular "Hotel for Genteel Women." In the meantime, Festus goes about selling Jeb Spencer's possessions, borrowing $40 from Miss Kitty and giving it to Charity as an advance. Festus eventually garners a total of $51 from his sale, repaying Miss Kitty and vowing to give the remainder to Charity.
Festus sets out for Abilene where his mule Ruth throws a shoe. He winds up at Sarah Elkins' place, a young widow with two boys who is set to marry a man whom she only knows from his letters. In return for "vittles" (food), Festus paints the Elkins' house, becoming close to Sarah and her two sons during his stay.
With Ruth now fitted with a new shoe Festus rides into Abilene where he looks up the newly-liberated Charity Spencer.
Eleven Dollars: Air Date & Network Competition
"Eleven Dollars" premiered over CBS on Monday night, October 30, 1972, in the 8-9 (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was The Rookies (ABC) and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC).
Eleven Dollars: Analysis & Review
Although TV westerns were often a male-dominated venue, women were occasionally given their due. In "Eleven Dollars," actresses Susan Oliver (1932-1990) and Diane Shalet (1935-2006) are front and center. Oliver plays the young widow Sarah Elkins while Shalet portrays the repressed Charity Spencer.
Ken Curtis' Festus Haggen is the featured regular, encountering both women in his dogged pursuit to return $11 to Miss Charity. His travels on the trail first lead him to Sarah Elkins' place, where her oldest son Chad greets him with the sight of both barrels from the family's scatter gun. Festus manages to get the kid to lay down the gun only after he convinces them that he means no harm.
Both Festus and the Elkins family wind up in Abilene. Festus looks up Charity Spencer at a hotel for genteel women, discovering to his horror that Charity is now a gaudy saloon girl and loving it. They talk at a table, where Festus is hit with a $10 bar tab for a bottle of champagne. When Festus objects, Charity simply tells him that's the way it is, tipping the bartender $1 and thus depleting the entire eleven dollars.
Festus departs the hotel/saloon/brothel just in time to witness Sarah Elkins exiting her wedding from the church. Charity finds Festus in the street, apologizing for his long journey to return the $11. Festus, however, says it was well worth it, as he eyes Sarah, her new husband and her two boys happily driving away in a buckboard.
Viewers will note the appearance of Josh Albee as Chad Elkins in this segment. Albee is perhaps best remembered as playing the mute boy Caleb in Jeremiah Johnson (1972).
"Eleven Dollars" comes from Gunsmoke's 18th season and is episode #571 of 635 in the series. "Eleven Dollars" was preceded in Gunsmoke history by "The Fugitives" (10/23/72) starring James Olson.
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Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.