OLD TIME RADIO - 1 CD-ROM - 28 mp3
Total Time: 13:31:58
NBC had learned from the many successful independent transcribed programming firms that cost-effective, prepackaged programming could address a growing market demand for low-cost Radio features. Dr. Sixgun was one of several programs that NBC produced specifically for wide, independent distribution over either the NBC Network or any unaffiliated outlet seeking low-cost programming; NBC's Haunting Hour was another example distributed at about the same time.
"Across the rugged Indian Territory, rides a tall young man on a mission of mercy; his medical bag strapped on one hip and his six-shooter on the other. This is Dr. Sixgun. Grey Matson, M.D. was the gun-toting frontier doctor who roamed the length and breadth of the old Indian territory; friend and physician to white man and Indian alike, the symbol of justice and mercy in the lawless west of the 1870s."
Dr. Sixgun first appeared over NBC on July 1st 1956 throughout America. Given its adult western genre, Dr. Sixgun appeared during the late evening in most markets. Versatile character actor Karl Weber was featured as Dr. Grey Matson, M.D., better known as 'Dr. Sixgun.' The series was set in the Montana Territory of the post Civil War 1870s, and centered around the frontier town of Frenchman's Ford. Upon arriving and settling in Frenchman's Ford, Dr. Matson acquired the town's muse, Pablo, a "wandering Gypsy peddler" [William Griffis] as Dr. Matson's chronicler, much in the vein of Sherlock Holmes' Dr. Watson.
Pablo's own sidekick was 'Midnight,' a raven with a penchant for mimicry. William Griffis, as Pablo, narrated the Dr. Sixgun adventures providing all the exposition and background necessary to keep each script moving. Legendary script writers Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts alternated with the writing credits for the series. Fred Weihe, Harry Frazee, and Daniel Sutter directed the productions. As with Gunsmoke (1952-1961), arguably Radio and Television's most iconic adult western of the era, Dr. Sixgun's adventures often centered around the local saloons. In the case of Dr. Sixgun that was O'Shea's Bull Run Saloon, Frenchman's Ford's only watering hole. The Bull Run was owned and bartended by O'Shea, as portrayed by William Keene.
Performed and transcribed in New York, the series featured many of Radio's finest East Coast supporting talent, among them: Luis van Rooten, Jim Boles, Joe de Santis, Kermit Murdock, Santos Ortega, Lon Clark, Betty Garde, Vicki Vola, Edgar Stehli, Roger de Koven, Denise Alexander, Bob Hastings, Leon Janney, Nelson Olmsted, William Johnstone, John Astin, Les Damon, Ralph Bell, Virginia Payne, Wendell Holmes, Ralph Camargo, and Jock MacGregor. Note the number of these actors that went on to distinguished Television careers as well. Although the composer/conductor wasn't credited in the AFRTS-denatured recordings, famous Jazz guitarist Art Ryerson provided the guitar music for the episode anecdotally titled, "Willie Wyman and the Land Grant."
Dr. Grey Matson was a Cambridge, Boston-trained physician who'd settled in Frenchman's Ford, Montana Territory after the end of The Civil War. Both sensitively and authentically portrayed by Karl Weber, Dr. Matson displays a wide range of basic humanity, good humour, professional resolve, and simple human frailty. Even more remarkable, writers Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts managed to maintain a marvelous balance of continuity in Dr. Matson's range of emotions and reactions irrespective of who wrote a particular script. It's clear that the two great scripters collaborated closely throughout the series.
The premiere episode found Dr. Matson presented with the gravely ill son of Chiricahua Indian Chief 'Tall Horse' whose tribe had been afflicted with a deadly outbreak of measles. 'Dr. Sixgun' found himself caught between a racially prejudiced Chiricahua Medicine Man--Grey Fox--and Aaron Gault, an equally prejudiced leader of a wagon train of Pennsylvania German settlers. Dr. Sixgun was away advising Chief Tall Horse, while back in Frenchman's Ford Aaron Gault had poisoned the chief's gravely ill son with what Gault believed was Prussic Acid. The George Lefferts-written script set the tone for all of the Dr. Sixgun episodes to follow. Both Lefferts and Ernest Kinoy were two of Radio's finest writers and their combined talents were arguably the principal contributing factor to the consistent quality of Dr. Sixgun throughout its run.
One of the era's most inexpensive series' for subscribing affiliates, Dr. Sixgun broadcasters got a disproportionate amount of bang for their pocket change. At about the same time Ernest Kinoy's scripts were being showcased in Dr. Sixgun, Kinoy's scripts were being heard on popular programs as diverse as the award-winning situation comedy, The Marriage (1953-1954), the Frank Sinatra mystery-adventure series, Rocky Fortune (1953-1954), and the award-winning science-fiction drama anthology X Minus One (1955-1958). For his part, George Lefferts had just completed writing the Rocky Fortune series with Kinoy and would go on to write for X Minus One with Ernest Kinoy.
One of the most representative of the adult western genre, Dr. Sixgun's scripts explored sociological, political, and cultural topics well ahead of their time: gun ownership, racial prejudice, religious prejudice, capital punishment, small town gossip-mongers, ethnic prejudice, investment scams, territorial politics, sexism, and medical ethics among several other thought-provoking themes. Even more emblematic of the adult western genre, Dr. Grey Matson was by no means idealized in Dr. Sixgun. He was consistently portrayed with equal measures of human fallibility, human strength, and all too human emotions.
Unfortunately overshadowed by the more popular Gunsmoke series of the era, Dr. Sixgun was one the Golden Age of Radio's most well-written series' and a genuine overlooked gem from the era. Ernest Kinoy's scripts were marvelously poignant, moving, and authentic, and George Lefferts' scripts were equally authentic, visceral, and historically accurate. The number of directors employed throughout the production were a testament to the seamless quality of Dr. Sixgun's scripts.
It's apparent that neither NBC--nor the era's major sponsors--ever truly understood the potential of Dr. Sixgun and its enduring impact. Their loss, posterity's gain.
Last but by no means least, we're--yet again--deeply indebted to the selfless, dedicated technicians of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) for preserving this remarkable Golden Age Radio gem.
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Dr Sixgun 54-09-02 (01) Indian Chief's Son Poisoned
Dr Sixgun 54-09-09 (02) Bartender and Project Investment
Dr Sixgun 54-09-16 (03) The Bell and the Baby
Dr Sixgun 54-09-23 (04) Choice Between Yom Kippur and Dueling
Dr Sixgun 54-09-30 (05) Colonel Crown Is a Mad Man
Dr Sixgun 54-10-07 (06) Fred Garth Jailed for Murder
Dr Sixgun 54-10-14 (07) Horse's Mane Is Murder Clue
Dr Sixgun 54-10-21 (08) The Immigrant Settler
Dr Sixgun 54-10-24 (09) Kill to Stop Family Line
Dr Sixgun 54-10-31 (10) No Guns Law
Dr Sixgun 54-11-07 (11) Old Man's Atonement for Cowardice
Dr Sixgun 54-11-21 (13) Ringo, Gunfighter
Dr Sixgun 54-11-28 (14) Stage Holdup - Several Shot
Dr Sixgun 54-12-05 (15) Trouble with First Male Teacher
Dr Sixgun 54-12-12 (16) Willie Has a Land Deed
Dr Sixgun 54-12-19 (17) A Pony for Christmas
Dr Sixgun - Baby Lillie & Belle
Dr Sixgun - Baseball At Frenchmen's Ford
Dr Sixgun - Captian Langdon's Honor
Dr Sixgun - Condemed Man's Marriage
Dr Sixgun - Eddie Baker Had It Coming
Dr Sixgun - Judge Parson's 12 Man Gallows
Dr Sixgun - Kung Lee Sin
Dr Sixgun - Mark Corning's Mail Order Bride
Dr Sixgun - Newspaper Arrives In Frenchman''s Ford
Dr Sixgun - Oberdorfer Electric Belt
Dr Sixgun - Old Man Hastings
Dr Sixgun - Willie The Wisp