Related Archival Materials
Scope and Contents
Title: John Dunkel Scripts and Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSA.37
Autry National Center, Autry Library
Language of Material:
23.9 Linear feet
43 boxes, 1 rolled poster, 1 flat file folder.
Date (inclusive): 1945-1988
John Dunkel (1915 February 21- 2001, February 22) was a radio and television writer, most prolific in the television Westerns
of the 1950s and 1960s. This collection of scripts and other papers spans from 1945-1988 and includes completed scripts, stories,
drafts, notes, correspondence, proposals, and plaques documenting Dunkel’s television script writing career.
Donadio, Candida, 1929-2001
Related Archival Materials
John Dunkel Radio Scripts (Collection 191). Performing Arts Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
- Series 1: Administrative, 1953-1988:
- Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1953-1988
- Subseries 1.2: Finances, 1969-1985
- Subseries 1.3: Writing Credits, 1986
- Series 2: Manuscripts, 1955-1985
- Subseries 2.1: Screenplays, 1945-1983
- Subseries 2.2: Literature, 1938-1983
- Subseries 2.3: Other, 1956-1981
- Series 3: Memorabilia, 1945-1979
- Subseries 3.1: Artwork, 1960-1974
- Subseries 3.2: Audio Tapes, 1956-1976, undated
- Subseries 3.3: Clippings, 1945-1979
- Subseries 3.4: Photographs, undated
- Subseries 3.5: Plaques, 1956-1961
Processing and finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist, April 12, 2012, made possible through
grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of John Dunkel’s working files from 1945-1985 and is arranged in the following series: Administrative
Records, Manuscripts, and Memorabilia. The Administrative Records include correspondence, financial records, and writing credits
on file with the Writers Guild of America. The Manuscripts series includes television scripts, manuscripts, and other written
materials such as book reviews, poetry, and a symposium talk. The Memorabilia series includes artwork, audio tape reels, magazine
and newspaper clippings, photographs, and plaques.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center
as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
John Dunkel Scripts and Papers, 1945-1988, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.37; [folder number] [folder title][date].
John Dunkel was born February 21, 1915 in Springfield, Ohio and attended Wittenberg University in Springfield. Dunkel came
to Southern California in the 1930s and worked as a play reader at the Pasadena Playhouse. In the 1940s, CBS Radio hired Dunkel
as a story editor. From 1946 to 1949 Dunkel was the head writer at CBS Radio, in charge of all West Coast radio programming.
During this time, many of the writers, directors, producers, and actors worked together on the same productions, which resulted
in a sort stock company. Dunkel met
Gunsmoke creator Norman Macdonnell through this working group. Macdonnell asked Dunkel to start writing for
Gunsmoke, which was already a great success. Dunkel declared that he did not have the requisite knowledge to write for a Western, but
he took the job anyway in 1955 and wrote twelve episodes from seasons three through seven.
Dunkel continued with the
Gunsmoke crew when it became a television series, writing 23 episodes during the first ten years of its run.
Gunsmoke was noted for breaking the typical Western formula by creating emotional storylines that were more complex, adult, and far-reaching
than the simple and sometimes youth-oriented stories of the popular Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s. Dunkel became more comfortable
writing about the West by reading books and studying the land, exploring on both foot and horseback. Dunkel cited outdoor
experience and a love of the land as requisites for successful writing in the Western genre. Dunkel is most noted for his
Broken Arrow, Gunsmoke, and
Rawhide, but he also wrote episodes of
Big Valley, Bonanza, The Virginian, High Chaparral, and
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Dunkel was honored by the Writer’s Guild of America between 1958 and 1962 with four writing awards for episodes he wrote
Broken Arrow, two episodes of
Rawhide, and one episode of
The Rifleman. The National Cowboy Hall of Fame gave its Western Heritage Award to episodes of
Rawhide on which Dunkel was a writer in 1961 and 1962. During his prolific career, Dunkel also wrote poems and short stories, gave
talks at symposiums, and drafted many scripts and story ideas. John Dunkel donated his radio scripts to the University of
California Los Angeles Library in 1979.
John Dunkel was also a commodore in the Santa Monica Yacht Club and lived in North Hollywood until his death on February 22,
Donation from the Dunkel Family Trust to Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 2001 July 23; transfer of archival material to
Institute for the Study of the American West, 2006 June 12.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
CBS Radio Network.
Broken Arrow (Television program : 1956-1958)
Gunsmoke (Television program : 1955-1975)
Rawhide (Television program : 1959-1965)
Western television programs -- United States