Death Valley Days (1952–1970)
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Magic Locket 

Librarian and part-time poet Ina Coolbrith takes precocious but intelligent young street waif Dorita under her wing. As their relationship grows Ina finds that a locket means more to her fulfillment than any literary renown.


Tay Garnett


Joanna Lee


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Episode credited cast:
June Lockhart ... Ina Coolbrith
Sean McClory ... Joaquin Miller
Kathy Garver ... Dorita Duncan
Irene Tedrow ... Head Librarian
Dennis Robertson Dennis Robertson ... Sam Dickson
Lizabeth Lockhart Lizabeth Lockhart ... Children (as June Lockhart Jr.)
Anne Lockhart ... Children
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wendy B. Kottler Wendy B. Kottler ... Jeering Kid


Librarian and part-time poet Ina Coolbrith takes precocious but intelligent young street waif Dorita under her wing. As their relationship grows Ina finds that a locket means more to her fulfillment than any literary renown.

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Release Date:

17 March 1965 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmaster Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Lizabeth Lockhart was listed in the credits as June Lockhart Jr. See more »

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User Reviews

Heartwarming story of librarian who nurtures a young talent
31 December 2016 | by BrianDanaCampSee all my reviews

One of the great things about the "Death Valley Days" anthology series (1952-1970) is that it didn't limit itself to traditional western sagas. The series often recounted stories from San Francisco's history, including one about William Randolph Hearst called "The Paper Dynasty," which I reviewed here nearly a year ago. The tale told in "The Magic Locket" is also set in 19th century San Francisco (ca. 1890) and deals with a spinster librarian named Ina Coolbrith who takes a poor but precocious street vendor named Dorita under her wing and encourages the girl, who quotes Dickens and Thackeray the way other kids would chant street rhymes, to write a play, which she then is asked to perform for Ina's friends at a private reading. Reference is made early on to Ina's helpfulness towards Bret Harte, Mark Twain and Jack London and in the course of the episode we meet another noted writer, Joaquin Miller, who is described on Wikipedia as "the Poet of the Sierras" and who is apparently a good friend of Ina. A treasured locket causes a rift between Ina and Dorita and in attempting to heal the rift, a secret is shared that reveals a deep connection between the two. There is a surprise reveal at the end that should thrill both history and dance buffs.

June Lockhart, fresh off of playing Timmy's mother on "Lassie" and about to start playing Mrs. Robinson on "Lost in Space," plays Ms. Coolbrith with a commanding dignity and elegance, tempered with a strong empathetic streak. She dresses well and lives in a spacious, well-appointed apartment which made me wonder how far a librarian's salary could go back then, although it's quite possible her character was an heiress who took the job as a labor of love. Kathy Garver plays Dorita as a sensitive but free-spirited soul, proud and independent but eventually won over by Coolbrith's continual encouragement. The character is 12 years old, but Garver was 19 when she filmed this. Garver went on to play Cissy on the sitcom, "Family Affair." Irish actor Sean McClory plays Joaquin Miller. Hollywood veteran Tay Garnett directed from a script by Joanna Lee, who has a long list of writing credits but is probably best known for playing Tanna, one of the ill-fated alien crew in Ed Wood's notorious sci-fi opus, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

I saw this episode when it was broadcast on the Encore Western Channel. It's also available in the DVD box set from Shout Factory, "Death Valley Days: The Ronald Reagan Years: The Complete 13th Season (1964-65)"

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