Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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Owney Tupper Had a Daughter 

To earn money to recover the custody of his daughter, an aging man accepts the job of Dodge's first in-town hangman, work no one else wants.





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Episode cast overview:
Andrea Darvi ...
Howard Wendell ...
Wib Smith
Dolores Quinton ...
Vernon Rich ...
Berkeley Harris ...
Steve Gaynor ...


Owney Tupper's only child was born when he and his wife were already middle-aged. Now that his wife is dead, Owney and the child are very content alone, but the girl's prosperous aunt and uncle come to town and impress a judge with the life they can offer her, as compared to Owney, whose house is falling down around him. Owney can get his girl back, he's told, when he can demonstrate that he can provide for her properly. All Owney's attempts thereafter to make money are thwarted, until a job comes up that no one else in Dodge wants: that of the first in-town hangman (a judge wants the execution carried out there instead of Hays City, as an example to the populace). Written by Morganalee

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Release Date:

4 April 1964 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Scriptwriter Paul Savage was nominated for a Writer's Guild award for this episode. See more »

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User Reviews

One of the better stories in the entire collection
3 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jay Flippen gives a brilliant performance in this show where life changes and nothing remains the same. And when his character tries to change his life things go from bad to even worse.

The episode begins as we see Owney Tupper (Flippen) living in a run down house with his beautiful young (Maybe 8 year old) daughter named Amity. She is all he has left since his wife died and they love each other so much.

However due to the living conditions the courts order that Amity live with her Aunt and Uncle in St Louis until the time that Tupper can make his place livable and proper for a child. 'By proper'- the Judge tells Tupper that he will have to fix up the house and also make use of the land to help feed the child. Tupper agrees and sets out to make the changes.

Tupper, a likable guy around Dodge, has everything going his way. The house is getting fixed and the seed is ready for the ground. But due to an accident, he loses his seeds and now has to find a way to get money to buy new seed.

There has been a killing around Dodge and the Judge has sentenced a man to be hung within twenty-four hours. However there is no man willing to take the responsibility of being the 'hangman'. Tupper agrees to hang the man for the twenty five dollars in order to get money for the seeds. But he will find that life changes and will never be the same as now people in Dodge think differently of Owney Tupper.

When his daughter returns, she notices that things have changed. And now Tupper will have to do what is best for the young child. He wonders what his life would have been if nothing had changed.

An excellent script that was well acted. One can really see through the characters the hardship of trying to do what is right but sometimes not succeeding. Excellent watch.

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