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October 11, 2019

20 Facts about Iconic Movie 'Gunsmoke' Fans of the Show Might Not Know

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"Gunsmoke" is one of the most popular TV westerns in television history. It had originally started as a popular radio show.

In 1995, television viewers were hooked on the popular western show "Gunsmoke." The show ran for  20 seasons. It told the story of Marshal Dillon defeating villains in the wild west of Dodge City, Kansas.

It had everything from shoot outs to drama at the Long Branch Saloon. The show was even extended from half an hour to a full hour because it was so popular. Here are twenty facts about the show that fans might not know.

James Arness, American actor, 20th century. Arness is best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon in the popular and long-running television series "Gunsmoke." | Getty Images


1. Famous Appearances

The cast was joined by a number of famous faces during the series including Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Scotty from "Star Trek" as well as Peter, Jan, and Cindy from "The Brady Bunch."

2. James Arness is the Only Actor to be in Every Episode

The only other actor to come close was Milburn Stone as Doc. Unfortunately he missed six episodes after he suffered a heart attack.

Dennis Weaver, the American actor and television star, famous for his roles in "McCloud" and "Gunsmoke." | Getty Images


3. Miss Kitty Russell

Amanda Blake was not the first choice for to play the role and it was actually offered to Polly Bond. However, she declined the role.

4. The show was a number one hit

The show gained the number one spot and held it from 1957 to 1961.


5. Marshal Matt Dillon was Difficult to Cast

The iconic role was extremely difficult to cast. The show wanted to cast John Wayne but he refused the role because he had decided to leave his film career. William Conrad who voiced the role on the radio show was deemed not attractive enough to play the role in the show and after 26 actors tested, Wayne recommended his friend James Arness.

6. The radio Series Ran Alongside the TV show

The radio show was still running when the TV show began. It ended in 1961 after broadcasting over 400 episodes.

he Hollywood Museum Celebrates The 55th Anniversary Of Gilligan's Island at The Hollywood Museum | Getty Images


7. The Show Ended 'Gilligan's Island'

CBS wanted to cancel the show, but producers panicked. Instead, CBS canceled "Gilligan's Island" and  "Gunsmoke" took over their time slot.

8. Popularised "Get out of Dodge"

In the show, Dillon would tell criminals to "Get outta Dodge." It was a reference to the show's setting of Dodge City, Kansas.

James Arness wears a cowboy hat and shows his sheriff's badge from the TV series, 'Gunsmoke,' | Getty Images


9. Doc Adams Didn't Have a Name

It took 16 seasons, for Doc Adams to be given a  first name. He was simply known as Doc Adams until then.

10.  Milburn Stone chose the first name for his character.

In season 16, producers decided to let the actor pick a first name for the character. Stone chose "Galen," inspired by Claudius "Galen" Galenus who was a famous doctor in ancient Rome and personal physician to emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Sam Peckinpah poses during a 1987 Malibu, California. He wrote TV shows like "The Rifleman" and "Gunsmoke." | Getty Images


11. Gary Busey was the Last Character To Die On The Show

Gary Busey was killed on the show from a brain tumor. He died in the third to last episode of the series in the role of Harve Daley.

12. Miss Kitty's Career Choices Were Not Mentioned

On the radio show, Miss Kitty was a madame but producers of the TV show believed it was better to avoid the details of her career to maintain the family-friendly rating on television. Thus her career was never mentioned.


13. The Show's Opener Changed in the 1970s

With a shift in the political climate at the time towards anti-violence resulted in the show feeling it would be inappropriate to continuously show Matt Dillon in a gunfight every week. Thus they changed the opening.

14. The Show Once held the Primetime Record for Most Episodes



ran for a total of 635 episodes. It held the record for the most-ever episodes for a prime time show but was later beaten by "The Simpsons."

Bette Davis (1908 - 1989 ), American film actress made an appearance in "Gunsmoke" | Getty Images


15. There was No Series Finale

When the show was canceled, it had been caught unaware. There were no preparations in place to end the beloved show thus it ended after 20 seasons with a normal episode.  

16. Five TV Movies

The series inspired five TV Movies: "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge," "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache," "Gunsmoke: To the Last Man," "Gunsmoke: The Long Ride," and "Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice." Arness acted as Matte Dillon in all the films.

Raymond William Stacey Burr (1917 - 1993) acted in "Gunsmoke" | Getty Images


17. Matt Dillon Had One Onscreen Kiss In The Series

Dillon only had one silver screen kiss. In the episode "Matt's Love Story" he kissed Michael Learned, who portrayed Olivia Walton on "The Waltons."

18. Dennis Weaver Created Chester's Limp

Dennis Weaver was instructed to distinguish his character from Dillon. He decided that the best way to do that was to add a limp to make Chester stand out. However, he later regretted the decision.

Gary Busey during the "Only Human - A #Blessed New Musical" Sneak Peek at The Yard Herald Square | Getty Images


19. Ken Curtis Played Multiple Characters

Ken Curtis most often appeared as Festus Haggen during the series but he also played Texas cattleman who was killed after becoming friends with Chester Goode. Buck Taylor also played Newly O'Brien gunsmith turned deputy.

20. James Arness' War Injuries Impacted the Shooting Schedule

Arness was amongst the first American soldiers to storm the Italian beach in the Battle of Anzio during WWII. He was shot in the leg during the battle and earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery. Unfortunately, the injury affected the star for the rest of his life and therefore affected scenes involving significant walking.