The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: Season 6, Episode 36

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (20 Jun. 1961)

TV Episode  |   |  Western
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Earp recalls in court the details of the day when the Clanton gang rides into Tombstone to shoot it out with the Earps and his plans initially to head off a street battle by arresting each one of the gang separately and then the gunfight.


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Episode cast overview:
James Seay ...
Steve Brodie ...
Sheriff Johnny Behan (as Steve Brode)
Ray Boyle ...
Morgan Earp (as Dirk London)
Rayford Barnes ...
Ralph Reed ...
Gregg Palmer ...
George Wallace ...
Frank McLowery (as George Wallace)
Stacy Harris ...
Mayor Clum
Damian O'Flynn ...


After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral Earp is on the stand testifying about the events leading up to the gunfight as part of an inquiry by Judge Spicer. Ike Clanton believes the Earps cheated him when they were unable to catch the men who held up the stage robbing Ike of the reward money. Drunk he threatens to kill the Earps. The next day a sober Ike is in town with a rifle and two pistols waiting for other members of the gang to arrive. Clum wants to use his vigilante group to take the outlaws but Earp wants to take the outlaws individually to prevent anyone from getting hurt. They succeed in arresting Ike Clanton and disarming him but he is released and heads to the gunsmith for a new gun. The McLowery brothers along with Billy Clanton and Billy Claiborne ride into to Tombstone. Sheriff Johnny Behan tries to play both sides telling the outlaws to make their play at the O.K. Corral while lying to the Earps by saying he had disarmed the outlaws. The three Earps are joined by Doc ... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

20 June 1961 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the show Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne are armed but run away refusing to fight. In real life it is thought they were unarmed. See more »


Wyatt Earp: [Opening Narration] The long struggle for law and order in Arizona exploded in thirty seconds of deadly gunfire at the O. K. Corral and placed Wyatt Earp among the great Marshals of the Western frontier. But the famous gunfight has been a matter of controversy ever since 1881. Witnesses from the outlaw element contradicted each other on so many vital points that no reputable historian has taken their version seriously. Marshal Earp's story of the fight was taken under oath and transcribed ...
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User Reviews

Above-average dramatization of historic gunfight
12 February 2015 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

This exemplary entry in the Wyatt Earp TV series offers a vivid recreation of the famous gunfight which took place at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881, between Wyatt Earp and his brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and the Clanton and McLaury brothers and one confederate on the other. It is told as a flashback as Wyatt Earp (Hugh O'Brian) is being questioned at an inquest by Judge Spicer (James Seay). We see some of the buildup to the gunfight in the provocative behavior by Ike Clanton (Rayford Barnes) and Tom McLaury (Gregg Palmer), in which Ike keeps muttering threats at the Earps and Tom bumps into Wyatt and challenges him, prompting Wyatt to dare him to draw. When Tom does so, Wyatt pulls out his pistol with its long barrel and clouts Tom on the head, putting him out of action, if only temporarily. There was a lot more buildup than that in real life, but a full accounting would take much longer than a half-hour TV episode.

Before too long, the cowboys (Ike Clanton and company) converge on the O.K. Corral and issue further challenges to the Earps, who respond in force and are joined by Doc Holliday (Douglas Fowley) who memorably asserts, "I'm steadier than any of you. I had whiskey for breakfast." County Sheriff Johnny Behan (Steve Brodie), who's in league with the cowboys, tries to dissuade Earp and his men from going to the corral, insisting that he's disarmed the cowboys. Earp & co. proceed with determination. The gunfight commences when Billy Clanton (Ralph Reed) draws and fires first, prompting the Earps and Doc to begin firing back and the McLaurys to begin shooting as well. The fight is filmed with a succession of medium close shots devoted to each of the main participants, with the firing of guns and the falling of mortally wounded combatants captured in slow motion (eight years before Sam Peckinpah popularized the technique in THE WILD BUNCH). This isn't done to create excitement but to give us a sense of how shooting and killing have consequences. Three men die rather senselessly, and the viewer feels for them, even though they seem to have provoked it and one can't quite blame Earp & co. for their actions. It's not a pleasant sight nor is it a source of exhilaration. Earp himself expresses regrets at the inquest.

There were numerous, conflicting eyewitness accounts of the gun battle and some historians side with one version of events over others. This version begins a little differently from how I've assumed it happened, based on my reading of different books about it, but it conforms to others' readings. Either way, it's about as accurate a rendition as we're likely to get. Taking place in a matter of seconds, it's also a far cry from the lengthy, choreographed gun battles made up out of whole cloth for the celebrated film versions of this encounter found in John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) and John Sturges' GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957) and its unofficial sequel, HOUR OF THE GUN (1967). The movie versions of the gunfight that compare most favorably, from an accuracy standpoint, with this TV version are found in George Pan Cosmatos' TOMBSTONE (1993) and Lawrence Kasdan's Wyatt Earp (1994).

The supporting cast is filled with quite an array of dependable character actors, including Rayford Barnes (so memorable as Buck, an ill-fated member of THE WILD BUNCH) as Ike Clanton; James Seay (VERA CRUZ) as the judge in the case; Stacy Harris ("Dragnet") as Mayor John Clum, a celebrated figure in his own right; Steve Brodie (OUT OF THE PAST, THE STEEL HELMET) as the duplicitous Sheriff Behan; Gregg Palmer (TO HELL AND BACK) as Tom McLowery (as it's spelled in the credits); George Wallace ("Commando Cody") as Frank McLowery; John Anderson (COTTON COMES TO HARLEM, SOLDIER BLUE) as Virgil Earp; and veteran character actor Douglas Fowley (SCARED TO DEATH) in his recurring role as Doc Holliday.

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