Yankton Full Episode – Gunsmoke, Season #17, Episode #21
There is no denying that Gunsmoke is one of the most iconic Western series of all time. The show aired on CBS from 1955 to 1975, following the story of Marshal Matt Dillon as he maintained peace and order in the town of Dodge City. Directed by Vincent McEveety and written by Jim Byrnes, season 17’s twenty-first Gunsmoke episode, Yankton, premiered on February 7, 1972.
Cowboy and drifter Yankton falls in love with Emma Donavan, daughter of the wealthy rancher, Will Donavan. Although their feelings are mutual, Emma’s parents are against their relationship, both making ways to put a stop to their romance. Moreover, the episode taps into Yankton and Emma’s relationship and also between Will Donavan and his wife, Henrietta.
Read the plotline and trivia of Yankton, or watch the Gunsmoke episode below.
Watch the Full Gunsmoke Episode, Yankton
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Gunsmoke Yankton Cast
Here are the actors that appeared in the Gunsmoke episode, Yankton:
- James Arness as Matt Dillon
- Milburn Stone as Doc
- Amanda Blake as Kitty
- Ken Curtis as Festus
- Buck Taylor as Newly
- Forrest Tucker as Will Donavan
- Nancy Olson as Henrietta Donavan
- Pamela Payton-Wright as Emma Donavan
- James Stacy as Yankton
- Woodrow Chambliss as Lathrop
- Ted Jordan as Burke
- Hank Patterson as Hank
- Margaret Bacon as Dressmaker
- Glenn Strange as Sam
- Tom Sutton as Pete
- Bill Hart as Cowboy #1
- Bennie E. Dobbins as Cowboy #2 (as Bennie Dobbins)
- Bert Madrid as Barfly (uncredited)
- Chick Sheridan as Barfly (uncredited)
Full Story Line for Yankton
Yankton, a wandering saddle tramp, stops in the town of Dodge City. There he meets Will Donavan, a wealthy rancher who defeated him by topping his $600 bet with $5,000 in a card game in Long Branch Saloon. Yankton seeks employment at the Long Branch with no horse, money, or place to stay. Miss Kitty agrees to give him a job as a janitor or what he calls “swamping.”
Will returns to his ranch after being out for three days. Her wife, Henrietta, informs him about her trip to Europe with their 19-year-old daughter, Emma. They’ve been planning a continental excursion for weeks that will last for around four or five months. Will is against their plan, especially since Emma will be away from her for a long time. However, Henrietta insists and tells him to think about Emma, stating that she’s lonely and it’s about time that their almost-20 years old daughter sees the world beyond cattle breeding and trail drives.
Henrietta and Emma visit Dodge, drawing the attention of Yankton, who’s cleaning at the Long Branch. When Sam, the bartender, tells him that they’re Will Donavan’s family, Yankton devises a plan in mind. He discretely helps Emma pick some clothes, nodding in approval whenever a dress fits his liking.
While busy picking her clothes, Yankton stages a minor accident to make it seem like he saved Emma. Emma immediately suspects Yankton’s motives, especially after he opens up about losing to her father. Emma also thinks she’s not a raging beauty, considering how most men only pay attention to him because he’s Will Donavan’s daughter. However, Yankton assures her that there are different kinds of beauty. Impressed, Emma starts to get smitten with Yankton.
Henrietta disapproves of Emma and Yankton’s budding romance. Will then finds Emma and sees her with Yankton. As soon as Emma leaves, Will tells Yankton to stay away from her daughter and find himself someone else. However, Yankton tells him that he likes Emma. Will warns him not to hurt Emma, but Yankton dismisses that thought by saying it’s not part of his plan.
At their ranch, Henrietta tells Will to bribe Yankton to leave town and never return. When offered $500 that evening, Yankton did accept the money. However, Henrietta has other plans. She sent three ranch boys to make sure Yankton would leave as discussed. Marshal Matt Dillon finds Yankton beaten up by three men and stops them from further hurting him. Although he has an idea of the three men’s motive, Yankton tells Dillon that he started the fight by saying they smelled like sheep.
The following day, Emma confronts her father about Yankton. Since Yankton didn’t meet her at the river that morning, Emma rode to Dodge, where she learned about Yankton’s disappearance. Just then, Yankton suddenly comes to the ranch in a buggy to meet Emma. Although Yankton doesn’t explicitly imply receiving $500 from Emma’s parents, he shows them the rig he bought for Emma. Seeing Emma’s joy, Will allows her to join Yankton for a ride. Once they leave, Will confronts Henrietta about sending the boys to work Yankton over. Henrietta insists that Yankton will hurt Emma, but Will doesn’t necessarily dislike their romance.
Emma returns home, happily sharing her time with Yankton. She eventually opens up about marriage, and although initially hesitant, Will doesn’t show any objection.
That evening, Will visits Yankton at the Long Branch Saloon to ask about the marriage. Will suspects Yankton’s reason for pursuing her daughter, considering she doesn’t know much about womanly things and does not fit traditional beauty standards. Yankton doesn’t dismiss this and blatantly tells Will that marrying Emma is his shortcut to getting rich. Angered, Will beats up Yankton, severely injuring the young man.
Will tells Emma that Yankton wants to marry her because he’s rich. Emma believes otherwise, saying Yankton is head over heels in love with her.
Meanwhile, Doc tends to Yankton’s injuries. Emma waits outside to meet him. There, Yankton tells Emma that Will didn’t like the idea of marrying her for their money. Emma confronts Yankton about his past, stating her mother hired a Pinkerton man to investigate him. Yankton explains everything to Emma and tells her to go home since he doesn’t match her and no longer wants to complicate her life. However, Emma wants Yankton to state his true feelings for her. Afraid that Emma will leave and never return, Yankton confesses his love, and Emma immediately goes to prepare for a wedding.
Emma and Yankton return to the ranch after two days to tell Emma’s parents about their marriage. Surprisingly, Will didn’t oppose their relationship anymore and was disappointed that he didn’t get to see their wedding. Will even tells Yankton that he wants their place filled with Donavan, and by doing so, he’ll make Yankton a ranch hand and then a foreman.
On the other hand, Henrietta, listening from behind, tells Emma that she doesn’t have to apologize. Believing Yankton will turn out like Will, Henrietta confronts Will about his shortcomings. She goes further, saying she wants a better life for herself and Emma instead of living as a wife of a drunken rancher. Henrietta leaves the room, and Emma encourages her father to stop Henrietta from going.
Will speaks to Henrietta, who immediately dismisses her. Still, Will stayed and asked her what a man should do if he wanted to see the folly of the kings, thrones of princes, and more with the woman he loves. With delight, Henrietta tells him that all that man has to do is ask her, hinting that the couple could have found a reason to love again.
Full Script and Dialogue of Yankton
Your bet, mister. Twenty dollars. Make it thirty. Your turn, cowboy. We'll, just, you know, make forty dollars. You said no limit, right? That's right. Right. Okay, there's my forty dollars, and I'm going to raise it... six hundred. But you can't raise six hundred. You know we can't cover a bet like that. You made the rules. It's going to cost you six hundred dollars. - Well... - Well... Well, this was a nice friendly game when it started out, wasn't it? It's still friendly. Prices just went up, that's all. Oh, hold on there a minute. No, I was just reaching for my wallet. Uh, five thousand. I'm sorry to have to clean you out like that, son. Oh, never like to leave a man broke. Buy yourself a drink. Whiskey. Guess I tangled with the wrong fella. I guess you did. Who is he? Will Donavan. Where'd he get money like that? Well, there's a lot more where that came from. He's got the biggest spread in this part of Kansas. Rich, huh? Mm-hmm. Is that the first time anybody's beat you at your own game? No, ma'am. But no man's ever beaten me twice. Well, I guess I connived myself right into a corner. I got no horse, got no money, and I got no place to stay. Sure could use a job. Well, I guess I could use somebody to help clean up at night. Swamping? Swamping. Ma'am, I'm awfully good with a deck of cards. Oh, I know. Swamping. Swamping. ♪♪ Oh, Emma. Papa. A good day to be sitting in front of the fire. What are you reading there? Just a book of poems. Ah. Any luck with those strays? No. No, but I had a little luck with poker. Mother's been wondering what happened to you. - She wants to talk to you. - Mm. It's important, Papa. You've been gone for three days. Most of it in a saloon? You know, whiskey gets blamed for a lot of things it never causes. I missed you, Papa. How you and I ever hatched something like that, I'll never know. Emma and I are going to Europe. What did you say? We've been talking about it for weeks. Well then, why haven't I heard about it before now? Because we both knew precisely how you would react. It seemed wiser to go through the explosion only once. How long do you intend to be gone? If Emma likes it as much as I think she will, four or five months. Oh, no. No, no. You're not going to do that to me. You are not going to take Emma away from me for four or five months. Will, stop thinking of yourself, for one moment. Emma's lonely here. She's almost twenty years old. It's time she saw something of life besides cattle breeding and trail drives. Well, she never said anything to me about being lonely. You know Emma. She wouldn't say anything to hurt you. But she's terribly excited about this trip. And I want her to see the sort of life I once knew. Theatre, and art, music, gentlemen with at least a nodding acquaintance with etiquette. Etiquette. A bunch of fancy dudes in starched collars, Sunday manners. Sunday manners are not the mark of a man. Dodge is her home. This is where she belongs. Dodge is a trail town. It's a haven for drovers and gamblers and saddle tramps. She's entitled to see how the rest of the world lives. Are you telling me that Emma went along with this scheme without any pushing from you? She did. If you don't believe me, ask her. You'd better start that broom moving and get them cuspidors cleaned out. Miss Kitty'll be here in a minute. Yeah. Uh, hey, Sam, who are those ladies? Oh, that's Will Donavan's family. His wife and his daughter, Emma. Oh, my, they don't seem to go together, do they? I mean, Mrs. Donavan and him. She sure is a beautiful woman. And a very elegant lady. Yeah. Well, what... what about his daughter? What about her? I mean, has she got any strings on her? Forget it, Yankton. You'll never be able to get close to her. Mrs. Donavan will see to that. Oh, I guess you never heard of divide and conquer, have you, Sam? Turn around. I don't like it, Mother. It's too... frilly. I'd like to look at some others. Mother, I know you got a lot of things to do. Why don't you go to the train station and get the tickets, and I'll meet you there in about an hour. All right, Emma. I think this may be more to your liking. It's pretty. I'll get him for you. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Gideon, how'd you get away like that? Would you like me to help? Thank you. Where to? I'm to meet my mother at the station. You going somewhere? Boston. Oh. Today? No. Next week. Oh, you got me scared there for a moment. You know who I am, don't you? Oh, yeah, I know who you are. You're... You're Donavan's daughter. Oh, your pappy, well he... He beat my britches off in a poker game the other day. Did he? This your way of getting back at him? Now what's that supposed to mean? I'm a long way from being the prettiest girl in Dodge. Usually, when a man starts to pay attention to me, it's 'cause I'm Will Donavan's daughter. Well... there's all kinds of pretty. I mean, I... I knew a girl once. Now, boy I tell you, she was sure pretty. She had black hair, kinda shiny, like a crow's wing when the sun hits it. Eyes that just made a man stutter when she put 'em to work. But she stopped being pretty to me because, uh, well, I got to know her. The train station's that way. Get up. Will? - Now what? - It's Emma. She rode off just after breakfast. She should have been back hours ago. Maybe that old buggy broke down. I'd better go see if I can find her. I think I know where she is. There was a young man in Dodge. I saw him with Emma yesterday. You mean to tell me that our Emma's found herself a fella? This boy's a saddle tramp. He rode in a couple of days ago and nobody knows anything about him. Except you, huh? And you know all about everything. Where Emma is concerned, I make it my business to know. All right. - I'll go find her. - Will. If she's still seeing that boy, I want it ended. Ha. Hyah! Well, when am I going to see you again? Do you want to? Boy, Emma, you sure haven't been around men, have you? I grew up on a ranch filled with men. I don't mean that kind of stuff. I mean courting... you know, picnicking, sweet talk, that kind of man stuff. Guess not. Well, how long are you going to keep running and hiding? I'm not running. I'm not hiding. My father. When? When? Tomorrow. Hello, Papa. You mother's been fretting. I'm sorry. I expect you'd better drive on home. Aren't we riding back together? Not this time, ladybug. Oh, uh, Hank, why don't you go buy yourself a beer, huh? You fixing to buy me another drink? I might. Sit down. I want you to stay away from my daughter. You go find yourself somebody else. Now you can ride over to Sperryville. There are a lot of nice ladies over there. All you got to do is, well, give them a bath and spruce them up a little bit. Find yourself a real friendly companion. Sounds like you've made that ride yourself, Mr. Donavan. If you keep on seeing Emma, I am going to blow a hole in you big enough for an eagle to nest in. Well now, that's a pretty big hole. Mr. Donavan, first off I want to tell you I like Emma. She makes me feel good. And I make her feel good. Now, what is wrong that? You know, it's... It's much better me than... some Frenchie with slick backed hair and some rose stuck in his buttonhole. You know that. Tell me something. Besides playing poker and swamping, what else do you do? Oh, I do just about everything. Well, what do you do best? I haven't done that yet. What do you do most? Oh, cow-punching, broke some horses, did some drovin'. But I was only marking time. Till you find what you do best? Yeah. Oh, uh... I just want to tell you one thing, young man. If you... if you ever hurt her... Mr. Donavan, that's not part of the plan. I thought you were going to put a stop to it. Henrietta, I'm busy right now. Emma is still seeing him. Yeah, I know. You know? Of course I know. And if he's what she wants, why don't you just let her be? But you don't know anything about him. Oh, yes, I do. So you have talked to him. Uh-huh. I say he's after her for one reason only. She's your daughter. And in Kansas, that means money and power. Henrietta, anytime that a man wants a woman, you think he's up to no good. Now, Yankton wants Emma like any man wants a woman. I say you give him enough money and he'll ride away and never look back. Well, now, why don't we go find out? It's open. Mr. Donavan. What are you doing over here? Well, my wife knows about you and Emma. How'd she find out? When my wife puts her mind to a thing, she's got ways that man never dreamed of. She also thinks that, uh... for the right price, you might get out of Emma's life. She also figure that price? Uh-huh. Five hundred dollars. Yeah, that... that's a lot of money. Well, it sure is for a fella that's cleaning spittoons for a living. I guess you're right. But I don't plan on cleaning spittoons much longer. Ah, good boy. - Mr. Donavan? - Yeah? You don't happen to have that five hundred in cash, do you? Be gone by morning. He took it? Yeah. He took it. Hyah! Get! Hey, you're leaving town. I am? We're just gonna make sure you don't change your mind. All right. That's enough. What's going on? - All right. - All right. I started it, Marshal. You mean you took the three of them on by yourself? I know it don't seem too brainy, but I told them they smelled like sheep. All right, you three out of here. I'm going to get you up to Doc, have him take a look at you. Yankton, you ran him off, didn't you? Emma. We were to meet at the river this morning. He wasn't there. Then I rode into Dodge. Nobody has seen him since last night... Including Miss Russell. There's something I've got to try to explain. Will. Hi, Emma. What happened? Oh, I... I fell down some stairs. Looks pretty bad, huh? I don't know. Some people might think it was an improvement. Come here. I... I saw this matched pair when I rode through Hays a while back. Well, I think it's the best rig I ever seen. They're yours, you know. Pretty fast looking rig there, young fella. Looks like that'd go for about five hundred, huh? You got a good eye, Mr. Donavan. Five hundred dollars'd be exact. A fella tried to pull a bluff on me, but he overplayed his hand. Hey, why don't you go try it? Love to. Well, don't just stand there, Yankton. Get in. Hey, bucko, you get her back by dark, you hear me? Hyah! Henrietta... you put Pete and the boys on him, didn't you? He'll hurt her. Did you see the look on her face just now? He'll hurt her. Maybe. But I've always had a kind of a feeling that you had to be throwed a few times before you could learn how to ride. Papa? Where's Mother? Oh, well I haven't seen her this afternoon. Did you enjoy the ride? It was wonderful. We chilled a bottle of champagne in the creek, then we drank a toast. We're going to be married, Papa. A mite soon, don't you think? Maybe, but that's what I want. And how you two figure to make out? We'll make out. Yankton's not worried, so I'm not. He came to town with nothing but a poker stake, and he lost that. How important is it, Papa? Mother's a beautiful woman, and you got money, land, cattle. You two haven't even shared the same bedroom for as long as I can remember. Papa, I'm sorry. That's all right, pretty girl. You told the truth. That's what I always taught you to do. But your mother is not going to take this very lightly. I mean, she had her heart kind of set on Europe. She thinks there's an answer there for everything, you know. You're sure that it's got to be Yankton, huh? I'm sure. Mr. Donavan. Hi, Sam. Uh, I'm sorry, sir, but we're closed. Yeah, I know, but it's all right. I just want to talk to Yankton for a minute. Yankton, lock up after me. Emma tells me you're talking about getting married. Well now, how do you intend to look after her? I'm working on it. You stop swishing that broom around. Emma's my daughter, and I can't for the life of me figure out why you're chasing her so hell bent. I figure you like a little lightning in your women. Probably had your share. Emma don't know very much about, uh, womanly things. And it don't take me to tell you that she ain't no raving beauty, except to me. Why? Because she's the daughter of Will Donavan. And Will Donavan happens to be the richest man in these parts. Suppose I turn her out? Oh, you won't. She's plain, all right, but she's yours. So you're going to marry Emma and get rich, huh? Well, I want to be rich. This is a shortcut. You stop... Come on. Come on! What's going on here? That's enough! Donovan: All right, you tell him that. Stay down, boy. He'll kill you. He may kill me... he's not... He's not going to beat me. Hey, please, son, stay down. You've got the courage of a lion and the guts of a bear. Everything it takes to run what I've built. Just too bad you're no damn good. Oh, Emma? I'd like to talk to you. About Yankton. You and I were talking yesterday about your marrying Yankton, and then I went into town, and I talked to him about the reasons. I... hate to tell you this, Emma, but the reason is... that your daddy's rich. I mean, he just came right out and said it. The truth is... he doesn't love you. Papa. You don't know what you're talking about. Papa. Yankton is... hopelessly... head over heels in love with me. Well, I think that's all right. You'd better keep those ribs bandaged for a couple of days. You'll feel a lot better, I'll tell you that. All right. You know, you haven't exactly been making fast friends since you've been in Dodge. Second time in a week. You keep this up, you're going to look like a side of pork. I don't understand it. Me, I'm friendly to a fault. I never seen so many hostile people in one town. What do I owe you, Doc? Some piece of mind. Take care of yourself. Okay. Thanks, Doc. It was Papa. Your old man hits like a mule kicks. Why? Didn't he tell you? Well, he don't like the idea that I'm marrying you for your money. It is a pretty provincial attitude, isn't it? Your Pa don't know it yet, but, well, you might even say he's fighting it, but I'm going to be his right-hand man. Uh-huh. Look, Miss Emma, all my life I've had nothing but my rear in a saddle and a hollow belly. No more. I understand. Oh, you understand nothing. I remember one time in the Dakotas I was starving. I saw this pack of wolves bring down a buffalo. Me and the vultures, we were the ones that just got to pick the bones, that's all. Well, your pa, he learned it too. The way may be different, but the lesson was all the same. A man has to learn to travel with the grass. Were you traveling with the grass when they sent you to prison? Well, how did you know about that? My mother hired a Pinkerton man. Well, what else did she tell you? That you burned down a man's house. Why? Oh, I don't know. It happened somewhere in Colorado. I hitched up with this old prospector who struck gold. He was a... He was a good old man. I really took a liking to him. That old man, boy, all he had was that claim and a tumble-down shack. Could have been the end of his rainbow, except for Farns, who was a big man in those parts. Farns heard that that patch of land was coughing up gold and he wanted it, so... He tried to get it from the old man, but the old man, he said no. So one night Farns and a couple of his hands rode in, torched the shack, and then killed him. So you rode over to Farns' place and burned him out. Yeah, and I also stampeded his cattle. 'Course, the only difference was the house was a mansion and the cattle was a thousand head. I spent a year and a half in prison for that. Miss Emma... go on home. Go on. Go on. Go on home. I'm no bargain for you. You're going to do a lot better somewhere in Paris or Boston, or wherever you're going. Get my horse and saddle back, and I'm going to be in the next town by morning. I can quit complicating your life. Yankton. What am I going to do with you? What? All this noble talk about giving me up and riding out of my life. Does the prospect of getting more than you bargained for really scare you that much? What are you talking about? Yankton, you're not a fool. You know very well what I'm talking about. Boy, you got a lot of your papa in you. Yep. Got a lot of surprises in store for you, Yankton. But right now I'm going to make you finish what you started. Push that lump out of your throat and say it. Now look, Miss Emma. Say it, Yankton. Or I'll walk away from here, and I won't walk back. All right, all right, all right. I love you. Is that what you wanted to hear? Well, it... it isn't a question of what I wanted, Yankton, it's a question of what the situation requires. Now that it's over, don't you feel better? It doesn't hurt as bad as I thought it would. There, you see? Hey, where... where you going? There's going to be a wedding, Yankton. Girl's got a lot to do. Whoa. Where the devil have you been? Your mother's been worried sick about you for two days. Sorry, Papa. We're married. Too bad you didn't invite your daddy. I would like to have been there. We wanted to, Papa. We couldn't tell you without telling Mother. I just couldn't face that. Yeah. Well, here, let me kiss the bride, at least, huh? I'm so happy, Papa. Yeah, I can see that. Let me get one thing straight. I want this place overrun with Donavans. I want a whole parcel of grandsons. What if I give you all those grandsons? What do I get? Well, for starters you're going to get a job as an ordinary ranch hand. Just like I did. And you're going to work from sunup till dusk, and you're going to put your tail in the saddle till you think you was born in there. And then if you do good, I just might make you foreman. From there? It takes a long time to climb a mountain, boy. I want to climb it. All right. You got saddle up a horse, it'll take about three days, but that's the beginning. Papa, you can't go now. We got to tell Mother. That won't be necessary. Mother, I'm sorry. Emma, you're your father's daughter. Don't be a hypocrite. Never lie, never cheat, and never apologize. Isn't that the way it goes, Will? Mother, you don't know Yankton. I don't know him? My dear, I've been married to him for 23 years. Why do you think I've been fighting to keep you away from him? Just because he's a trail hand with no prospects? That's all your father was when I met him. Emma, don't you see? He's Will Donavan all over again. Same good looks, same brashness, same courage, same impossible charm. Mother, I don't see what's wrong with that. Of course you don't. Neither did I. But you see, Emma, Yankton, like your father, is a man's man. There's no place in his life for a woman. He understands horses and land and how to dominate other men. What he doesn't know the first thing about is the needs of a woman. That is not fair, Henrietta. You shut up, Will. You've had your say for 23 years, and now, before I leave this house, I'm going to have mine. You could have been a great man, Will. There's no limits to where you could have gone. And it's all been a waste, and we're the poorer for it. But I could have lived with that waste because you were happy building this little insulated world. I could even live with the fact that you'd be gone on trail drives for four and five months at a time when I heard not one word from you, not knowing whether you were alive or dead. Trampled under the hooves of those damned cattle or drowned in some swollen river. But I lived with that, too, Will. What I couldn't take... is what happened when you came back. When you saw the inside of every bar and every tavern between here and Hays. When you unwound with poker games that lasted up to 36 hours... and the girls in Center City, who could be bought for the price of a heifer... saw you before I did. And I even lived with that, Will. But I made up my mind that Emma was not going to have to. There's a whole world out there beyond the fences of this ranch that you and she know nothing about. There are the thrones of kings and the follies of princes and the Sistine Chapel and the... and the Acropolis, and the opera at Milan. That's what I wanted you to see, Will. That's what I wanted you to taste and to understand. And when I realized you never would... I hoped and I dreamed and I prayed that Emma would have the chance. "Dear God," I said, "At least give her a choice." But you've beaten me, Will, because you're stronger than I am. You've won... as you always do. There's one more problem, Emma. And it's possibly the most painful one of all. You love him desperately... and the ultimate tragedy is that you're going to find out you can't ever stop. Papa... if you let that woman walk out of this house... you're the biggest fool since Adam. Henrietta? Go away, Will, please. Henrietta... Go away. If a man wanted to see the, uh... folly of kings and the... thrones of princes... and if he wanted to see those things... with the woman that he loves... how would he go about it? Well... I guess... he'd just ask her.
Behind the Scenes of Yankton
This episode marks the sixth and final appearance of Forrest Tucker, portraying five different characters in the series.
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