Peter Breck starred in two Western episodes with the same unique title

The Big Valley and Gunsmoke both told “The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner” and a behind-the-scenes connection may be the reason why.

It wasn’t uncommon for TV Westerns to cover the same ground, both figuratively and literally in terms of filming locations in the mountains outside Los Angeles. We even made a quiz about the storylines used in both Gunsmoke and The Rifleman

Naturally, many Western episodes from different shows share titles like “The Hunter,” “The Marshal” and even “The Photographer.” One highly specific episode in both the long-running classic Gunsmoke and the Sixties family ranch drama The Big Valley is “The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner.” To add to the coincidence, actor Peter Breck appears in both!

Breck played Barbara Stanwyck’s son Nick in all 112 Big Valley episodes, and “The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner” is no exception. But it must have felt strange to him to read a script with that name given that just two years earlier he had played the title character in the Gunsmoke episode... “The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner.”

If Breck had kept a sharp eye on both scripts, he may have deduced the reason for the coincidence. Writer Paul Savage was the mind behind both. 

It’s important to note that these episodes have very different plotlines. Savage didn’t try to recycle a Gunsmoke script and sell it to a different show. It seems he just had a particular affinity for a certain name and thought it could fit guest characters on both series. And we can’t blame him. Jubal Tanner is a great Western name!

In Gunsmoke, Peter Breck played resentful drifter Jubal Tanner who is attacked by a buffalo hunter outside Dodge City. While recuperating in town, Jubal meets a saloon girl named Leah (Beverly Garland) who has her own reasons to be angry at the world. The two form an unlikely bond in this great season eight episode.

In The Big Valley’s first season two years later, “The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner” centered around an old friend of the Barkley family, who returns to the ranch to buy a piece of land he was promised years before. In this story, the Jubal character is quite a bit older, played by veteran TV actor Arthur O’Connell. The episode also features Sheldon Collins, most famous for playing Opie Taylor’s friend Arnold on The Andy Griffith Show, as Jubal’s grandson.

Whether he was inspired by the 1956 Glenn Ford film Jubal, or he just liked the name, we can’t blame writer Paul Savage for reusing such a distinctive moniker. Who knows, with all the unique baby names nowadays, we could see Jubal making a comeback!

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jfms99 20 months ago
Peter Breck was also on Maverick for several episodes as Doc Holliday and was great.
DethBiz 20 months ago
One of my favorite Peter Breck appearances was in the 90s in the movie Unnamable II with David Warner and John Rhys-Davies.
ELEANOR 23 months ago
Jackson Gillis who worked on both Perry Mason and Columbo did the same thing. Did you ever wonder why there were so many fireplaces in Columbo and sometimes they even were used to burn important documents. That was because, ta da!, they had lots of fireplaces on PM and sometimes they even used them to burn important documents.
MarkSpeck ELEANOR 23 months ago
Between Jackson Gillis and Robert C. Dennis, I think those two guys wrote for every dramatic show on television.
Toddmick 23 months ago
Jubal was a moonshiner on the Andy Griffith Show
AgingDisgracefully 23 months ago
I remember Barbara Stanwyck's sons in The Big Valley.
Lee Majors and The Samsonite Twins.
daDoctah 23 months ago
Paul Savage re-using a name puts me in mind of Gene Roddenberry's penchant for giving several characters the name Dylan Hunt.
Michael daDoctah 23 months ago
But Planet Earth, and Genesis II are basically the same, pilots for a concept that never endedin a series. Strange New World uses the same source material, but no Dylan (but does reuse John Saxon).

Andromeda was something else, but used the name and notes from Genesis II.
F5Twitster Michael 23 months ago
Yes, there were only two Dylan Hunts in Roddenberry's oeuvre, played in 1973's "Genesis II" by Alex Cord, and John Saxon in "Planet Earth" a year later.

Just as well, as "Dylan Hunt" is a pretty pretentious name, just as pretentious in its way as, say, Alex Cord (born Alexander Viespi, Jr.) and John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico).
Runeshaper 23 months ago
Very interesting story and you're right about the baby names LOL (-:
justjeff 23 months ago
Oh, Jubal-ation!
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Runeshaper justjeff 23 months ago
Moverfan justjeff 23 months ago
May as well throw in the last line of Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkle)--"Jubilation, she loves me again, I fall on the floor and I laughing"...
justjeff Moverfan 23 months ago
Right! I forgot about that...
MarkSpeck Moverfan 23 months ago
There's also "Jubilation" by Paul Anka, which is not even close to Simon and Garfunkel.
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