Gunsmoke


Gunsmoke

"Gunsmoke" is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West.

The radio version ran from 1952 to 1961, and old time radio expert John Dunning [See Dunning, 1998] writes that among radio drama enthusiasts "Gunsmoke" is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time." The television version ran from 1955 to 1975 and is the longest-running prime time drama series, and the second-longest running prime time fictional program in U.S. television history, its record surpassed only by the Disney anthology television series and "Hallmark Hall of Fame".

Radio version

In the late 1940s, CBS chairman William S. Paley, a big fan of "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe" radio serial, asked his programming chief, Hubell Robinson, to develop a hardboiled Western series. Robinson contacted his West Coast CBS Vice-President, Harry Ackerman, who had created the Philip Marlowe series, to take on the task.

Ackerman and his scriptwriters, Mort Fine and David Friedkin, created an audition script called "Mark Dillon Goes to Gouge Eye". Two auditions were created in 1949. The first was very much like a hardboiled detective series and starred Rye Billsbury as Dillon; the second starred "Straight Arrow" actor Howard Culver in a more Western, lighter version of the same script. CBS liked the Culver version better, and Ackerman was given the green light to proceed.

But there was a complication. Culver's contract as the star of "Straight Arrow" would not allow him to do another Western series. So the project was shelved until three years later, when Norman MacDonnell and John Meston discovered it while looking to create an adult Western series of their own.

MacDonnell and Meston wanted to create a radio Western for adults, in contrast to the prevailing juvenile fare such as "The Lone Ranger" and "The Cisco Kid." "Gunsmoke" was set in Dodge City, Kansas during the thriving cattle days of the 1870s. Dunning [Dunning, 1998] notes, "The show drew critical acclaim for unprecedented realism."

Radio cast and character biographies

The radio series first aired on April 26, 1952 ("Billy the Kid," written by Walter Newman) and ran until June 18, 1961 on CBS. It starred William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon; Howard McNear as Doc Charles Adams; Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell; and Parley Baer as Dillon's assistant Chester Proudfoot.

Conrad was actually one of the last actors who auditioned for the role of Marshal Dillon. With a powerful, distinctive voice, Conrad was already one of radio's busiest actors. Though Meston championed him, MacDonnell thought Conrad might be overexposed. During his audition, however, Conrad won over MacDonnell after reading only a few lines. Dillon as portrayed by Conrad was a lonely, isolated man, toughened by a hard life. Meston relished the upending of cherished Western fiction clichés and thought that few Westerns gave any inkling of how brutal the Old West was in reality. Dunning writes that Meston was especially disgusted by the archetypal Western hero and set out "to destroy [that type of] character he loathed." In Meston's view, "Dillon was almost as scarred as the homicidal psychopaths who drifted into Dodge from all directions." (Dunning, 304)

Chester's character had no surname until Baer ad libbed "Proudfoot" during an early rehearsal. The amiable character was usually described as Dillon's "assistant," but the December 13, 1952 episode "Post Martin," Dillon described Chester as Dillon's deputy. The TV series changed Chester's last name to Goode.

Doc Adams was named after cartoonist Charles Addams, and while the character was originally portrayed as ghoulish and brittle, McNear's performances gradually became more warm-hearted. In the January 31, 1953 episode "Cavalcade," Doc Adams' backstory is revealed: his real name is Calvin Moore, educated in Boston, and he practiced as a doctor for a year in Richmond, Virginia where he fell in love with a beautiful young woman who was also being courted by a wealthy young man named Roger Beauregard. Beauregard forced Doc into fighting a duel with him, resulting in Beauregard's being shot and killed, but even though it was a fair duel, because Doc was a Yankee and an outsider he was forced to flee. The young girl fled after him and they were married in St. Louis, but two months later she died of typhus. Doc wandered throughout the territories until he settled in Dodge City seventeen years later under the name of "Charles Adams." On the television series, Doc's first name was changed to Galen.

Georgia Ellis appeared in the very first episode "Billy the Kid" (April 26, 1952) as "Francie Richards," a former girlfriend of Matt Dillon and the widow of a criminal. "Miss Kitty" did not appear on the radio series until the May 10, 1952 episode "Jaliscoe." Kitty's profession was hinted at, but never explicitly stated: in a 1953 interview with "Time," MacDonnell declared: "Kitty is just someone Matt has to visit every once in a while. We never say it, but Kitty is a prostitute, plain and simple." (Dunning, 304) The television show portrayed Kitty as a saloon proprietor, not a prostitute.

Distinction from other radio westerns

"Gunsmoke" was often a somber program, particularly in its early years. Dunning writes that Dillon "played his hand and often lost. He arrived too late to prevent a lynching. He amputated a dying man's leg and lost the patient anyway. He saved a girl from brutal rapists then found himself unable to offer her what she needed to stop her from moving into... life as a prostitute." (Dunning, 304) Some listeners, such as vintage radio authority Dunning, have argued that the radio version of "Gunsmoke" was far more realistic than the TV series. Episodes were aimed at adults and featured some of the most explicit content of their time, including violent crimes, scalpings, , and opium addicts. Many episodes ended on a somber note, and villains often got away with their crimes. Nonetheless, thanks to the subtle scripts and outstanding ensemble cast, over the years the program evolved into a warm, often humorous celebration of human nature.

Apart from the doleful tone, "Gunsmoke" was distinct from other radio westerns, as the dialogue was often slow and halting, and due to the outstanding sound effects, listeners had a nearly palpable sense of the prairie terrain where the show was set. The effects were subtle but multilayered, giving the show a spacious feel. John Dunning writes: "The listener heard extraneous dialogue in the background, just above the muted shouts of kids playing in an alley. He heard noises from the next block, too, where the inevitable dog was barking." (Dunning, 305)

Talk of adapting "Gunsmoke" to television

Not long after the show began, there was talk of adapting it to television. Privately, MacDonnell had a guarded interest in taking the show to television, but publicly, he declared that "our show is perfect for radio," and he feared that, as Dunning writes, "Gunsmoke" confined by a picture could not possibly be as authentic or attentive to detail." (Dunning, 305) "In the end," writes Dunning, "CBS simply took it away from" MacDonnell and began preparing for the television version of "Gunsmoke." (Dunning, 305)

Conrad and the others were given auditions, but they were little more than token efforts—especially in Conrad's case, due to his obesity. However, Meston was kept on as the main writer. In the early years, a majority of the TV episodes were adapted from the radio scripts, often using identical scenes and dialogue. Dunning writes: "That radio fans considered the TV show a sham and its players impostors should surprise no one. That the TV show was not a sham is due in no small part to the continued strength of Meston's scripts." (Dunning, 304)

MacDonnell and Meston continued the radio version of "Gunsmoke" until 1961, making it one of the most enduring vintage radio dramas. The "Gunsmoke" radio theme song and later TV theme was titled "Old Trails," also known as "Boothill." The theme was written by Rex Koury & Glenn Spencer. The original radio version was conducted by Rex Koury. The TV version was thought to have been first conducted by CBS West Coast Music Director, Lud Gluskin.

William Conrad directed two episodes of the television version, in 1963 and 1971. Howard McNear appeared on six episodes of the television version playing characters other than Doc, including three times as storekeeper Howard Rudd.

Television version

infobox television
show_name = Gunsmoke


caption = Gunsmoke title card
format = Western
picture_format = Black and white (1955–1966), color (1966–1975)
runtime = 30 minutes (1955–1961), 60 minutes (1961–1975)
creator = John Meston
starring = James Arness
Milburn Stone
Amanda Blake
Dennis Weaver
Ken Curtis
Burt Reynolds
Buck Taylor
Glenn Strange
theme_music_composer = Herman Stein
country = United States
network = CBS
first_aired = September 10, 1955
last_aired = March 31, 1975
num_seasons = 6 ('Marshal Dillon', syndication re-titling of half-hour episodes)
14 ('Gunsmoke'),
20 (total seasons)
num_episodes = 233 ('Marshal Dillon', syndication re-titling of half-hour episodes), 402 ('Gunsmoke'), 635 (total episodes)
imdb_id = 0047736|

The television series ran from September 10, 1955 to March 31, 1975 on CBS for 635 episodes. Until 2005, it was the longest run of any scripted primetime series with continuing characters in American primetime television.

Conrad was the first choice to play Marshal Dillon on TV, having established the role, but his increasing obesity led to more photogenic actors being considered. Losing the role embittered Conrad for years, though he later starred in another CBS television series, "Cannon" (1971–1975). Denver Pyle was also considered for the role, as was Raymond Burr who was ultimately seen as too heavyset for the part. According to a James Arness interview, John Wayne was offered the role, but wouldn't do it; Wayne was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and at that time, working in television was seen as a huge step down in prestige for a star actor.

In the end, the primary roles were all recast, with James Arness taking on the lead role of Marshal Matt Dillon upon the recommendation of John Wayne, who also introduced the first episode of the series; Dennis Weaver playing Chester Goode; Milburn Stone being cast as Dr. Galen "Doc" Adams; and Amanda Blake taking on the role of Miss Kitty Russell, owner of the Long Branch Saloon. MacDonnell became the associate producer of the TV show and later the producer. Meston was named head writer. Arness, in his role on "Gunsmoke", achieved what no other actor at the time had ever matched: he played the same character on the same scripted series for 20 years - at the time the longest uninterrupted period a primetime actor had played the same role in the same show.

In 1963, singer/character actor Ken Curtis did a guest role as a shady ladies' man. After Weaver left the series to venture out as the lead in his own TV series, "Kentucky Jones", Curtis was added to the show's lineup. He played the stubbornly illiterate Festus Haggen, a character who came to town (in an episode titled "Us Haggens") to avenge the death of his twin brother, Fergus Haggen, and another brother, Jeff Haggen, and who decided to stay in Dodge when the deed was done. Initially existing on the fringes of Dodge society, Festus Haggen was slowly phased in as a reliable sidekick to Matt Dillon and was eventually made a deputy. Interestingly, his twin was never again mentioned on the show. In the episode "Alias Festus Haggen," he is mistaken for a robber and killer whom he has to expose to free himself (both parts played by Curtis). In a comic relief episode ("Mad Dog"), another case of mistaken identity forces Festus to fight three sons of a man killed by his cousin. Other actors who played Dillon's deputies for two and a half to three-year stints included Roger Ewing (1966–1968) as Thad Greenwood and Burt Reynolds (1962–1965) as Indian/white Quint Asper. Buck Taylor, who played gunsmith Newly O'Brien from 1967–1975, also served as one of Dillon's deputies.

While Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty clearly had a close personal relationship, the two never married. In a July 2, 2002 Associated Press interview with Bob Thomas, Arness explained, "If they were man and wife, it would make a lot of difference. The people upstairs decided it was better to leave the show as it was, which I totally agreed with." The nearest that Matt and Kitty had to a romantic encounter was in a comic episode ("Quiet Day in Dodge"), where Matt, tired from a long day of settling disputes, was about to have dinner with Miss Kitty. However, she was distracted and found poor Matt sound asleep. Kitty ended up storming out of the room, furious.In another episode ("Hostage!", Season 18, Episode 13, December 11, 1972) Kitty was gravely injured. Matt spent hours at Kitty's side in Doc's office, holding her hand before she stirred and he knew he would not lose her. The Marshal took off his badge to pursue the bad guy as a personal vendetta. When Kitty awoke and Doc told her of Matt's mission she feared for his safety. As Doc reassured her, "The sun hasn't come up on the day that Matt can't take care of himself," Kitty answered, "I couldn't live without him."

In an episode ("Waste") featuring Johnny Whitaker as a boy with a prostitute mother, her madam questions Dillon as to why the law overlooks Miss Kitty's enterprise. It appears that bordellos could exist "at the law's discretion" (meaning the Marshal's).

The character Miss Kitty was written out in 1974, when Blake decided not to return for the the show's 20th (and final) season.

Differences between the characters on the radio and television versions

There were differences between the characters on the radio and TV versions of "Gunsmoke." In the radio series, Doc was acerbic, somewhat mercenary, and borderline alcoholic — at least in the program's early years. The television Doc, though still crusty, was in many ways softer and warmer. Miss Kitty, who in the radio series likely engaged in prostitution, was viewed more as "the proprietor of a saloon" on the television series, and except for a few early scripts taken from the radio series, viewers only saw Miss Kitty as a kindhearted businesswoman.

Format

From 1955 to 1961, "Gunsmoke" was a half-hour show (re-titled "Marshal Dillon" in syndication). It then went to an hour-long format. The series was entitled "GUN LAW" in the UK.

Popularity

"Gunsmoke" was TV's No. 1 ranked show from 1957 to 1961 before slipping into a decline after expanding to an hour. In 1967, the show's 12th season, CBS planned to cancel the series, but widespread viewer reaction (including a mention in Congress and pressure from the wife of the head of programming at CBS) prevented its demise. The show continued on in a different time slot: early evening on Mondays instead of Saturday nights, canceling the popular "Gilligan's Island" in the process. This seemingly minor change led to a spike in ratings that saw the series once again reach the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings until the 1973–1974 television season [ [http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1973.htm ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings > 1970's ] ] . In 1975, the show was finally canceled after a long twenty-year run. "Gunsmoke" was the show that ushered in the age of the adult Western, and although over 30 Westerns came and went during its 20-year tenure, "Gunsmoke" outlasted all of its imitators and was the only Western still airing when it was canceled.

Arness and Stone had remained with the show for its entire run (although Stone missed seven episodes in 1971 due to illness and was temporarily replaced by Pat Hingle, who played "Doctor Chapman" while Doc Adams ostensibly left Dodge to further his medical studies on the East Coast).

The entire cast was stunned by the cancellation, as they were unaware CBS had been considering it. According to Arness, "We didn't do a final, wrap-up show. We finished the 20th year, we all expected to go on for another season, or two or three. The (network) never told anybody they were thinking of canceling." The cast and crew heard the news in typical Hollywood fashion: they read it in the trade papers. (Associated Press, July 2, 2002, Bob Thomas)

Revivals

In 1987, many of the original cast reunited for the TV movie, ' [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093130/ Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge] ] , filmed in Alberta, Canada. Ken Curtis declined returning, citing a contract dispute, saying, "As Dillon's right hand man, I felt the offer should approximate Miss Blake's." Instead, Buck Taylor became Dodge's new marshal, though the retired Matt Dillon was the hero. A huge ratings success, it led to four more TV films being made in the U.S. After Amanda Blake's death, the writers built on the 1973 two-part episodic romance of "Matt's Love Story", (which was noted for the marshal's first overnight visit to a female's lodgings). In the episode, Matt loses his memory and his heart during a brief liaison with "Mike" Michael Learned of "The Waltons". In preserving the ethics of the era and the heretofore flawless hero's character, the healed Dillon returns to Dodge City. Movie number two, ' [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099721/ Gunsmoke: The Last Apache] ] (1990), had Learned reprising the role of "Mike Yardley" to divulge that Matt and "Mike" conceived a daughter who is now a young woman named Beth. Other films (which all featured daughter Beth) included ' [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104379/ Gunsmoke: To the Last Man] ] (1992), ' [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107062/ Gunsmoke: The Long Ride] ] (1993), and "" [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109961/ Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice] ] (1994).

Longevity

As of April 2008, two American series that have been poised to beat "Gunsmoke's" 20-year record are the animated sitcom "The Simpsons," now in its 20th season, and the police procedural/courtroom drama "Law & Order," now in its 18th year. The half hour "Simpsons" has been renewed for 2008-2009 and tied "Gunsmoke" for 20 seasons in September 2008. [cite web|url=http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Television/story?id=5888441&page=1|title='The Simpsons' Hits a Landmark|author=Bill Keveney|date=2008-09-28|accessdate=2008-10-02|publisher=ABC] "Gunsmoke", which ran a full hour through most of its run, still beats the comedy's total air time; "Law & Order" is also expected to be a possible 20-year survivor that could surpass Gunsmoke as the longest running American drama on television. Internationally, a number of British primetime dramas and comedies have beaten "Gunsmoke", and "Law & Order", including "Last of the Summer Wine" (34 years), "Taggart" (23 years), "Casualty" (21 years) and the longest running primetime scripted show, "Doctor Who" (30 seasons over 45 years).

Ratings

*1956–1957: #8
*1957–1958: #1
*1958–1959: #1
*1959–1960: #1
*1960–1961: #1
*1961–1962: #3
*1962–1963: #10
*1963–1964: #20
*1967–1968: #4
*1968–1969: #6
*1969–1970: #2
*1970–1971: #5
*1971–1972: #4
*1972–1973: #8
*1973–1974: #15
*1974–1975: #28 [ [http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/index.htm ClassicTVHits.com: TV Ratings ] ]

yndication

In syndication, the entire 20-year run of "Gunsmoke" is separated into three packages by CBS Paramount Television:

*1955–1961 half-hour episodes: These episodes are sometimes seen in their original format and sometimes in the "Marshal Dillon" format. General syndication ended in the 1980s, but they do air occasionally on cable TV. Local stations (and, later, TV Land) would show the re-titled "Marshal Dillon" version of the series, while the series under the original "Gunsmoke" title was seen in the 1980s and early 1990s on CBN Cable and The Family Channel.
*1961–1966 one-hour black-and-white episodes: These episodes have not been widely seen in regular syndication since the 1980s, although they did air on the Encore Westerns Channel on a three-year contract that ended circa 2006.
*1966–1975 one-hour color episodes: These are the most widely syndicated episodes of the entire series' run and are still aired on many stations, including a popular run on TV Land.

DVD releases

Certain episodes are available on DVD in two volumes. Twelve episodes from 1955 to 1964 were selected for the "Gunsmoke: Volume I" box set, and another twelve episodes from 1964 to 1975 were selected for the "Gunsmoke: Volume II" box set. Both are available on Region 1 DVD.

Paramount Home Entertainment released Season 1 on DVD in Region 1 on July 17, 2007. Season 2: Volume 1, which features the first 20 episodes of season 2 was released on January 8, 2008. Season 2: Volume 2, which features the last 19 episodes of season 2 was released May 27, 2008. Season 3: Volume 1, which features the first 20 episodes of season 3 is expected to be released on December 9, 2008.

Comic strips and books

Comic books based on the series were also published. Dell Comics put out five issues of their "Four Color Comics" series on "Gunsmoke" (issues #679, 720, 769, 797, 844). This was followed by "Gunsmoke" #6–27 (1958–62). Gold Key Comics continued it with #1–6 in 1969–70.

A comic strip version of the series ran in British newspapers for several years under the show's UK title, "Gun Law".

Whitman Books published "Gunsmoke" by Robert Turner in 1958 and "Gunsmoke: "Showdown on Front Street" by Paul S. Newman in 1969; both books were based on the TV series.

In 1974, Award Books published the following paperback books written by Jackson Flynn based on the TV series:

* "Gunsmoke #1: "Renegades"
* "Gunsmoke #2: "Shootout"
* "Gunsmoke #3: "Duel at Dodger City"

In 1998, Boulevard Books published the following paperbacks written by Gary McCarthy based on the TV series (however, reviewers on Amazon.com state that these adaptations are poorly done):

* #1: "Gunsmoke"
* #2: "Gunsmoke: "Dead Man's Witness"
* #3: "Gunsmoke: "Marshal Festus"

A series of novels based upon the television series written by Joseph A. West with forewords by James Arness was published by Signet:

* "Gunsmoke: "Blood, Bullets and Buckskin", January 2005 (ISBN 0-451-21348-3)
* "Gunsmoke: "The Last Dog Soldier", May 2005 (ISBN 0-451-21491-9)
* "Gunsmoke: "Blizzard of Lead", September 2005 (ISBN 0-451-21633-4)
* "Gunsmoke: "The Reckless Gun", May 2006 (ISBN 0-451-21923-6)
* "Gunsmoke: "Dodge the Devil", October 2006 (ISBN 0-451-21972-4)
* "Gunsmoke: "The Day of the Gunfighter", January 2007 (ISBN 0-451-22015-8)

Games

Lowell Toy Manufacturing Corporation ( "It's a Lowell Game" ) issued "Gunsmoke" as their game No. 822. Along with many other Lowell games of this era, "Gunsmoke" is a highly coveted collectible. The TV series also inspired a "Gunsmoke" video game produced for the NES by Capcom.

Regular cast; major characters

*Matt Dillon (1955–1975): James Arness
*Doc Adams (1955–1975): Milburn Stone
*Kitty Russell (1955–1974): Amanda Blake
*Chester B. Goode (1955–1964): Dennis Weaver
*Festus Haggen (1964–1975): Ken Curtis

Cast

*Clem (bartender; 1959–61): Clem Fuller
*Sam (bartender; 1961–73): Glenn Strange
*Rudy (bartender; 1965–67): Rudy Sooter
*Floyd (bartender; 1974–75): Robert Brubaker
*Quint Asper (blacksmith; 1962–1965): Burt Reynolds
*"Thad"—Deputy Clayton Thaddeus Greenwood (1965–1967): Roger Ewing
*Newly O'Brien (gunsmith; 1967–1975): Buck Taylor
*Wilbur Jonas (storekeeper, 1955–63): Dabbs Greer
*Howie Uzzell (hotel clerk, 1955–75): Howard Culver
*Moss Grimmick (stableman; 1955–63): George Selk
*Jim Buck (stagecoach driver; 1957–62): Robert Brubaker
*Louie Pheeters (town drunk; 1961–70): James Nusser
*Ma Smalley (boardinghouse owner; 1961–72): Sarah Selby
*Hank Miller (stableman; 1963–75): Hank Patterson
*Mr. Bodkin (banker; 1963–70): Roy Roberts
*Barney Danches (telegraph agent; 1965–74): Charles Seel
*Roy (townsperson; 1965–69): Roy Barcroft
*Halligan (rancher; 1966–75): Charles Wagenheim
*Mr. Lathrop (storekeeper; 1966–75): Woody Chambliss
*Nathan Burke (freight agent; 1966–75): Ted Jordan
*Percy Crump (undertaker; 1968–72): Kelton Garwood
*Ed O'Connor (rancher; 1968–72): Tom Brown
*Judge Brooker (1970–75): Herb Vigran
*Dr. John Chapman (1971): Pat Hingle
*Miss Hannah (saloon owner; 1974–75): Fran Ryan
*Angus McTabbott (1966): Chips Rafferty Australian actor

Miscellanea

*Although set in Dodge City, Kansas (and obviously filmed in Studio City and Simi Valley, California), the only cast member to actually hail from Kansas was Milburn Stone.

*The original "outdoor" "Gunsmoke" film sets located at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California, were also later used for the filming of "Little House on the Prairie."
*Some outdoor scenes were shot at "Old Vegas", a now-demolished Western-themed amusement park in Henderson, Nevada. The property is now a housing development, also named "Old Vegas".

*"Gunsmoke" (episode "Fandango" from 1967) is one of the television programs that can be heard in the background of Pink Floyd's 1979 LP "The Wall."

*The series, and specifically the town of Dodge City, was parodied in the 1966 film Carry On Cowboy. The film, the eleventh in the hugely successful Carry On series, was set in the fictional town of "Stodge City".

*According to commentary by James Arness on the DVD "Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition, Volume 1," when Arness and his family sat down in 1955 to watch the first episode of the series, they had no idea that John Wayne had filmed the intro that told viewers they would likely have to get used to "his good friend, Jim Arness" because "Gunsmoke" was a Western that was "adult" in its approach and appeal. Arness was stunned and very pleasantly surprised.

*According to commentary by Dennis Weaver (Chester Goode) on the DVD "Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition, Volume 1," when the producers of "Gunsmoke" realized that the audience would question why handsome, leading-man-type Weaver never carried a gun to "come to the aid of Mr. Dillon" each week, the producers asked Weaver to create a minor disability for Chester that would justify his non-violent approach to life in Dodge. After contemplating and struggling with the idea over a weekend, Weaver showed up to the set the following Monday and demonstrated Chester's now-famous straight-legged limp. The producers barely blinked as they told Weaver the limp would work out just fine.

*James Arness and John Wayne, who hired Arness to work with him at Republic Pictures and who recommended Arness for the role of Matt Dillon, were both born on May 26.

*During the first year of filming the TV series, Milburn Stone reportedly did not like James Arness. However, roughly a year into the series, the two developed an amicable relationship and actually got along quite well for the run of the series.

*Amanda Blake, after retiring from "Gunsmoke," became an animal-rights' activist. She founded a shelter for homeless animals that, unlike most animal shelters, does not kill animals but rather keeps them alive.

*Amanda Blake, who was briefly married to a man who died of AIDS-related complications, also died of AIDS-related viral hepatitis, although at first, her death was reported as being due to a relapse in the cancer from which she had suffered and that had earlier gone into remission.

*Ken Curtis (né Curtis Wain Gates), who had been married to director John Ford's daughter, Barbara, from 1952 to 1964, had been a member of the now-famous Ford stock company before joining "Gunsmoke," appearing in many of Ford's movies, in some, displaying his professionally trained singing voice. In real life, Curtis spoke quite eloquently and based the country twang of Festus on a man named Cedar Jack, whom Curtis' town-sheriff father often arrested and jailed in their small hometown of Las Animas, Colorado when Cedar Jack would come to town and get drunk. The family lived above the jail (Curtis' mother, Nellie, cooked for the prisoners), and Curtis gained much exposure to interesting characters he could later fold into his performances. Curtis began his career singing for Tommy Dorsey. He went on to do a short stint in Hollywood during the singing cowboy era before joining Ford's stock company and taking on more dramatic roles, the most famous of which is that of Charlie McCorry in "The Searchers."

*George Kennedy played his first "lead guest star" role in an early, half-hour episode of the show. He has remarked that as a 6' 4" actor, it was a delight to play scenes with the 6' 7" Arness and the 6' 3" Weaver.

*James and Janet Arness devote much of their philanthropic efforts to United Cerebral Palsy.

*The episode {20/12} "Island In the Desert" {part 2} has a date of 1873 spoken by Festus.

*The episode {14/26} "Exodus 21:22" has a date of 1874 on a gravestone.

*The episode {14/24} "The Good Samaritans" has a date of June 12, 1875, which is seen on Dillon's commission and also on a deathbed-statement letter.

*The Episode {14/7} "9.12 to Dodge" and episode {14/17} "Mannon" tells of a war "ten Years ago" {i.e. The US Civil War} implying a date of 1875.

*The episode {20/8} "The Fourth Victim" is similar to a modern Police drama in that citizens of Dodge City are being killed by a mad killer.

*After being defeated by the good guys, badmen might stereotypically be commanded to "get the hell out of Dodge." It turned into youth slang in the mid-1960s, and became common by the 1970s.

*The entire first verse of the Toby Keith song "Should've Been a Cowboy" refers to the romance between Matt and Kitty, and expresses the opinion that Kitty would have married Matt if he had only asked.

*Author David Gallaher cites "Gunsmoke" as a major influence in his werewolf western webcomic series "High Moon", here: http://high-moon.blogspot.com/2007/10/high-moon-back-cover-of-my-notebook.html

Quotes

"If I had known it would last this long, I would never have created the darn thing." — John Meston

"Our attempt to create as realistic and entertaining a program as possible is not, of course, the only one of its kind. But we did proceed and were on the air, trying, before the release of such pictures as "High Noon" and "Shane"." — John Meston

"We had a great childhood and boyhood. It was a wonderful time through those years. A lot of it was through the Depression years, when things were tough, but my dad always had a job. But I had a great time. I was kind of restless, and I had a hard time staying in school all day, so me and a few pals would duck out and go out on these various adventures." — James Arness, on growing up with brother, Peter Graves, of "" fame.

"I wouldn't care if they tattoo 'Festus' all over. He's been good to me." — Ken Curtis

"I'm really proud of "Gunsmoke," We put on a good show every week—one that families could all watch together without offending anyone." — Ken Curtis

Notable guest stars

: "(partial list, alphabetical):"
*Willie Aames, Jack Albertson, Mabel Albertson, Claude Akins, Richard Anderson, R.G. Armstrong, Jenny Lee Arness, John Astin
*Edward Asner, Lew Ayres, John Drew Barrymore, Ed Begley, Ralph Bellamy, James Best, Dan Blocker, Bruce Boxleitner, Eric Braeden
*Peter Breck, Beau Bridges, Morgan Brittany, Charles Bronson, Joyce Bulifant, Gary Busey,
*Sebastian Cabot, Frank Cady, Harry Carey, Jr., John Carradine, Lee J. Cobb, Chuck Connors
*Mike Connors, Tim Considine, Pat Conway, Elisha Cook, Jr., Robert Culp, Royal Dano, Kim Darby, Bette Davis
*Jim Davis, Richard Deacon, Gloria DeHaven, John Dehner, Bruce Dern
*William Devane, Angie Dickinson, James Doohan, Richard Dreyfuss, Buddy Ebsen, Barbara Eden, Jack Elam, Sam Elliott, Paul Fix
*Jay C. Flippen, Constance Ford, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Anne Francis, Bert Freed, Victor French
*Beverly Garland, Leif Garrett, James Gavin, Melissa Gilbert, Harold Gould, James Gregory
*Kevin Hagen, Alan Hale, Jr., Mariette Hartley, Katherine Helmond, Earl Holliman, Ron Howard, Marsha Hunt
*Josephine Hutchinson, Dennis Hopper, John Ireland, Richard Jaeckel, Ben Johnson
*L.Q. Jones, DeForest Kelley, George Kennedy, Richard Kiley, Jack Klugman, Ted Knight, Diane Ladd, Martin Landau
*Allan Lane, Louise Latham, Anna Lee, June Lockhart, Jack Lord, Barton MacLane, Rose Marie, Ross Martin
*Strother Martin, Darren McGavin, Howard McNear, Vera Miles, John Mitchum, Ricardo Montalban, Harry Morgan
*Richard Mulligan, Diana Muldaur, Gene Nelson, Leslie Nielsen, Leonard Nimoy, Nick Nolte, Simon Oakland, Warren Oates
*John Payne, Brock Peters, Slim Pickens, Suzanne Pleshette, Andrew Prine, Denver Pyle, Dack Rambo
*Pernell Roberts, Wayne Rogers, Ruth Roman, Katharine Ross, Kurt Russell, Albert Salmi, John Saxon
*William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Jeremy Slate, Aaron Spelling, Loretta Swit, Harry Dean Stanton, Gloria Talbott, Russ Tamblyn, Vic Tayback
*Dub Taylor, Forrest Tucker, Cicely Tyson, Robert Urich, Joan Van Ark, Lee Van Cleef, Joyce Van Patten, Robert Vaughn
*Jon Voight, Lesley Ann Warren, Ruth Warrick, David Wayne, Adam West, Johnny Whitaker, James Whitmore, William Windom
*Dana Wynter, Chill Wills, Ian Wolfe

Notable directors

*Andrew V. McLaglen
*Arnold Laven
*Arthur Hiller
*Dennis Weaver
*Gene Nelson
*Irving J. Moore
*John Rich
*Leo Penn
*Marc Daniels
*Mark Rydell
*Peter Graves
*Philip Leacock
*Robert Totten
*Sam Peckinpah
*Tay Garnett
*Victor French
*Vincent McEveety
*William Conrad
*William F. Claxton
*Fred Thompson

Notable composers

*Elmer Bernstein
*Franz Waxman
*Jerry Goldsmith

Notes

References

*John Dunning, "On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio," Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8
*SuzAnn Barabas & Gabor Barabas, "Gunsmoke: A Complete History and Analysis of the Legendary Broadcast Series," McFarland & Company, Inc., 1990. ISBN 0-89950-418-3
*Associated Press, July 2, 2002, Bob Thomas
*Bill Carter, "NBC Will Bring Back All Three ‘Law & Order’ Shows", "The New York Times", May 14, 2007.

External links

* [http://www.cherishedtelevision.co.uk Gunsmoke review]
* [http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/gunsmok1.htm Einstein guest appearance rumor]
* [http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/G/htmlG/gunsmoke/gunsmoke.htm Encyclopedia of Television]
* [http://www.skyways.org/orgs/fordco/gunsmoke/ Gunsmoke 50th Anniversary 2005 from Dodge City]
* [http://www.vintageradioshows.com/welcome/Gunsmoke_s.html Radio Show]
* [http://www.jamesarness.com James Arness]
* [http://www.eviltwin.velvetsofa.com/Curtis/main.html The Ken Curtis Appreciation Site]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047736 Gunsmoke] at The Internet Movie Database
* [http://www.tvland.com/shows/gunsmoke/ "Gunsmoke TV Show" on TVLand.com]
* [http://colsearch.nfsa.afc.gov.au/nfsa/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A238902;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10 Gunsmoke at the National Film and Sound Archive]
* [http://comp.uark.edu/~tsnyder/gunsmoke/ Tamara's "Gunsmoke" Web Page]


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