Milburn Stone’S Brother Wrote This Unusual Gunsmoke Episode


With 635 episodes throughout 20 seasons, Gunsmoke needed a lot of writers to tell its stories. While the cast made the show charming, the writing is what sustained the series for two full decades.

One episode, which aired on Christmas night in 1967 stood out for a few reasons. Primarily, there was the fact that it was a family affair. But the episode was also notable for the way it centered Gunsmoke’s Doc Adams.

While Doc was compelling enough to warrant an episode in any season, this one was special. Milburn Stone, who played Doc, spoke with The North Adams Transcript in ’67 about “Baker’s Dozen,” the episode written by his brother, Charles Joseph Stone.

“It’s the first show he’s done for me — after a lot of producing,” said Milburn, reportedly looking very proud of his younger brother.

“Joe can write standing on his head.”

While the episode was well-received by the cast and crew, it was initially met with hostility on the executive level.

“CBS put up some strange resistance at first that I still can’t figure out,” said Milburn Stone. “They bought it some time ago and then shelved it. I kept asking them when are they going to do it. Jim [Arness] finally said we’re going to do it, and that was that.”


Milburn’s brother Joe explained as to why the producers may have dragged their feet.

“I originally wrote it some years ago for an anthology series like Frontier. I wanted to do a Western with no violence, and there’s not a single shot fired in it.”

But don’t confuse Joe Stone’s pacifism for anything boring. Instead, the episode was sweet without becoming saccharine. After a stagecoach holdup, Doc Adams has to deliver triplets as one of the characters is suddenly in labor. The Doc-centric episode also sees him caring for the newborns. Three babies proved to be a lot, and Doc had his hands full.

The two brothers would meet during the weekends in San Clemente, which was halfway between Joe’s San Diego home and Milburn’s Hollywood address.

“I’m no writer,” said Milburn Stone, “but I do know a few do’s and don’ts about TV, and I guided him in Gunsmoke ways. Otherwise, Joe did all the rest.”