Gunsmoke's Lavery TV Episode: Anthony Costello, Judi West & David Carradine Guest Star
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Gunsmoke's Lavery TV Episode: Anthony Costello, Judi West & David Carradine Guest Star

Gunsmoke's Lavery first aired on Monday night, February 22, 1971, with Anthony Costello as Keith Lavery, a dreamer and petty criminal who plans to find his fortune in the Dakota gold fields. Regulars James Arness, Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake are also joined in the cast by Judi West, Karl Swenson, David Carradine, Ken Swofford and David Huddleston.

Gunsmoke (1955-75) remains one of television's greatest westerns. The 1971 episode "Lavery" guest stars Anthony Costello as Keith Lavery, a semi-reformed petty crook whose dream of lighting out for the Dakota gold fields threatens his marriage.

Gunsmoke's Lavery: Cast & Credits

Donald S. Sanford penned the teleplay for "Lavery," with Vincent McEveety directing. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are:

  • Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness)
  • Doc Adams (Milburn Stone)
  • Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake)
  • Keith Lavery (Anthony Costello)
  • April Lavery (Judi West)
  • Mr. Hubert (Karl Swenson)
  • Harry (Ken Swofford)
  • Arno (David Huddleston)
  • Clint (David Carradine)
  • Sam Noonan (Glenn Strange)
  • Verna (Chanin Hale)
  • Trapper (Jack Perkins)
  • Hank (Hank Patterson)

Anthony Costello as he appeared in The Molly Maguires (1970) - Paramount Pictures

Lavery: Episode Synopsis

Keith Lavery is a small-time operator married to saloon girl April. Keith was to meet with two of his friends and light out for the Dakota gold fields, where they hope to strike it rich. Keith, however, is accused of horse theft by the shady Arno and lands up in jail. When Matt Dillon talks to Arno, he discovers that the "theft" was nothing more than a horse swap. 

Matt gets Keith a job at Hubert's Tannery in Dodge City, where Keith proves to be a valuable worker. Harry and Clint, the two old buddies Keith was to have met earlier, ride into Dodge, dead broke from their stay in another town. They still plan to head to the Dakota gold fields and want Keith to go with them.

Keith's wife April is worried, fearing that her husband will take off with his friends. Keith, however, resists the temptation, determined to stay in Dodge and continue working for Mr. Hubert. In fact, Hubert wants to promote Keith to buyer after only three weeks. Needing money for their venture north, Harry and Clint break into Hubert's Tannery, where they're caught in the act of stealing furs. They strike Hubert in the head and flee, leaving Keith to find the old man. Hubert initially believes that Keith was in on the robbery, with Keith later joining up with his friends where they try to sell the stolen furs to Arno.

Lavery: Air Date & Network Competition

"Lavery" was telecast on Monday night, February 22, 1971, in the 7:30-8:30 (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was The Young Lawyers (ABC) and The Red Skelton Show and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC). 

Lavery: Analysis & Review

Like any TV series Gunsmoke had its occasional "dead zone" during its incredible 20-year run on the tube. "Lavery" is one such episode, featuring a lackluster story and some rather tepid performances.

Tall, lanky Anthony Costello (1938-1983) garners the title role of Keith Lavery, a dreamer and petty crook who's long on talk but short on responsibility. Lavery is married to one of Kitty Russell's saloon girls, a pretty little blonde named April. Lavery is trying to get his life in order, working a dirty, sweaty job at Hubert's Tannery. But when his old buds ride in, looking to make like the Three Musketeers once again, Lavery is sorely tempted to chuck work and head with them to the Dakota gold fields.

This was Anthony Costello's second and final appearance on Gunsmoke, his first coming as Austin Keep in "Luke" (11/2/70). Costello carries the role well, even managing a bizarre scene where his two friends show up at Hubert's Tannery, with the three of them rolling around, laughing and carrying on like a bunch of teenagers on crack. 

Veteran character actor Ken Swofford and future Kung Fu TV star David Carradine (1936-2009) play Lavery's friends, with Carradine appearing more laid back than usual. Oversized David Huddleston grabs a good role as the heavy Arno, the man with the big bucks hidden in his jacket who acts as a fence for the stolen furs.

The conclusion of "Lavery" isn't much, with Lavery drawing the line at robbery of the greedy Arno. He holds a gun on his two friends as Matt Dillon enters and takes charge of the situation. And although Lavery might be looking at some jail time in his future, the segment does end on a happy note, with April informing her husband that she's going to have a baby. I wonder what kind of health plan Miss Kitty has for her employees at the Long Branch?

"Lavery" comes from Gunsmoke's 16th season and is episode #537 of 635 in the series. "Lavery" was preceded in the Gunsmoke saga by "Cleavus" (2/15/71) starring Robert Totten. 

Top Image

  • Classic overview of Gunsmoke's Dodge City at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California - CBS-TV

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

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Comments (1)

Another outstanding piece of work.