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Gunsmoke Amanda Blake’s Passing Was Originally Related to Cancer, the Real Cause Surfaced Just 3 Months After

Esther NJeri
Aug 31, 2021
05:40 A.M.

When Gunsmoke's Amanda Blake passed on at 60, it was extensively reported that she'd succumbed to cancer, but her friends and doctors knew more than they were letting on.

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Amanda Blake was everyone's favorite actress on the TV series "Gunsmoke." When she died in 1989, an official report from the Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, where she had been receiving treatment, said she'd died from cancer.

Blake, who smoked up to two packs of cigarettes a day, had, back in 1977, had surgery to treat oral cancer. Following her recovery, she toured the country with the American Cancer Society.

Amanda Blake from "Gunsmoke" | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and ctress Hollywood

Amanda Blake from "Gunsmoke" | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and ctress Hollywood

Only three months after her death, a spokeswoman for Mercy General Hospital, Jerri Ewen, came forward to put the facts straight, reporting that she had indicated Blake's death as cancer at the request of close friends to the diseased.

And while her death certificate showed the cause of death to be CMV Hepatitis and cardiopulmonary arrest, Dr. Lou Nishiruma, Blake's doctor, repudiates the claims.

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Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake on a scene in the movie | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake on a scene in the movie | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

Nishiruma says that Blake's cause of death was related to Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Noting that there had been no recurrence of her cancer, she reported:

"Technically she died of liver failure brought on by viral hepatitis, which was AIDS-related."

Blake had found out about her status a year before her death and only informed those closest to her. A close friend Pat Derby disclosed that Blake, after finding out she had AIDS, had moved to Derby's 20-acre preserve.

US actress, in a publicity portrait issued fo the US television series, 'Gunsmoke', USA, circa 1960. The Western series starred Blake as 'Kitty Russell'.| Source: Getty Images

US actress, in a publicity portrait issued fo the US television series, 'Gunsmoke', USA, circa 1960. The Western series starred Blake as 'Kitty Russell'.| Source: Getty Images

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Derby says she loved taking care of the unwanted performing animals, adding that they'd noticed her being a bit frail but had absolutely no idea what was ailing her. They thought she had the flu.

Concerned about her failing health, Derby and her husband coerced Blake to seek medical attention, and that's when they visited Dr. Nishimura, who then disclosed what she was suffering from.

Blake could have gotten the virus from her husband of less than a year.

Amanda Blake poses for a photo during the shooting of "Gunsmoke" | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

Amanda Blake poses for a photo during the shooting of "Gunsmoke" | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

Seeing as Blake was never sexually promiscuous nor used drugs, the revelation begged the question of where she would have contracted the virus. Enter Mark Spaeth, Blake's fifth husband.

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Spaeth was a city councilman and a developer, and the couple is said to have married for a mutually beneficial financial reason.

 Amanda Blake. She portrays Miss Kitty on the western series, Gunsmoke. March 12, 1964. | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

Amanda Blake. She portrays Miss Kitty on the western series, Gunsmoke. March 12, 1964. | Source: YouTube/ Most Actor and Actress Hollywood

A former colleague of Spaeth, Charles Urdy, says with Spaeth being well-off and Blake seeming to have been undergoing financial difficulties, the two opted for marriage. Spaeth was, however, widely known to have been a homosexual. Urdy adds:

"He was accepted as being gay, and his close friends were known to be gay.”

Blake could have gotten the virus from her husband of less than a year. However, Jane Price, Blake's former housekeeper, claimed that Blake had opened up to her and told her that they'd not consummated their marriage.

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Amanda Blake attends Life Organization Benefit Fundraiser on February 11, 1986 at Gallagher's Restaurant in Los Angeles, California.| Source: Getty Images

Amanda Blake attends Life Organization Benefit Fundraiser on February 11, 1986 at Gallagher's Restaurant in Los Angeles, California.| Source: Getty Images

Spaeth died in 1985 from pneumonia, at only 45, and when he was breathing his last, he opened up to the press, saying that Blake had infected him with the virus. This further contradicted the already mysterious maze.

This left the only other explanation as to where Blake could have contracted the AIDS to be during one of her several trips to Africa, where she often went to watch wildlife.

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