|1955 - 1975
The life of US Marshal Matt Dillon (James
Arness) as he maintained law and order in the
1880s town of Dodge City, Kansas.
"On Saturday night in Dodge City, too many
men think they'll find courage at the bottom of
a whiskey bottle. I know, because I'm the United
State Marshal Matt Dillon."
For his troubles, Matt earned $100 a month. When he gets hungry
he eats at Delmonico's Café. The
Longbranch Saloon is his destination when he wants to have a beer.
To get around the territory, Matt rode a horse named Marshall.
Matt's close friends included:
- Milburn Stone as Galen "Doc" Adams, the town physician
- Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty Russell, the soft-hearted saloon keeper and Matt's
unofficial sweetheart. Kitty eventually fell in love with a
gunfighter named Will Stambridge (Richard Kiley) after he risked
his own life to save hers.
- Dennis Weaver as Chester Goode, Matt's limping, deputy.
- Ken Curtis as Festus Haggen, Matt's deputy who replaced
Chester Goode. Doc Adams once told Festus the reason that the
Haggans live so long is 'Cause they're too dumb to know they're
- Glenn Strange as Sam Noonan, the bartender at Kitty's Longbranch Saloon. He's a handy man with a glass of beer and if
needed the shotgun stored behind the bar.
- Burt Reynolds as Quint Asper, the half-breed blacksmith
- Buck Taylor as Newly O'Brien, the gunsmith
- Roger Ewing as Clayton Thaddeus Greenwood, Matt's
- Michael Learned as "Mike" Yardner, a widow who once
nursed Matt back to health after he was ambushed and left with
with amnesia. During his recuperation Matt and Mike had an affair
and unbeknownst to Matt, Mike become pregnant. Twenty years later,
Matt learned he had a daughter named Beth (Amy Stock). Two years
later Mike, the owner of the Yardner Cattle Company in Arizona
died of a high fever.
Listen to Intro - 1962
Chester, Matt and Doc
Other Dodge City folks included:
- Fran Ryan as Miss Hannah, who ran the Longbranch Saloon
after Kitty's departure.
- Pat Hingle as Dr. John Chapman, who cared for the folks
in Dodge City while Doc Adams was out of town.
- Woody Chamblis as Mr. Lathrop, a storekeeper.
- Dabbs Greer as Mr. Wilbur Jonus, the storekeeper.
- Charles Wagenheim as Halligan, a local rancher.
- Tom Brown as Ed O'Connor, a local rancher.
- James Nusser as Louie Pheeters, the town drunk.
- Charles Seel as Barney Danches, telegraph agent.
- Howard Culver as Howie, the Dodge House Hotel clerk.
- John Harper as Percy Crump, the undertaker.
- Hank Patterson as Hank Miller, the stableman.
- Ted Jordan as Nathan Burke, the freight agent.
- Roy Roberts as Mr. Bodkins, the banker.
- Sarah Selby as Ma Smalley, the boardinghouse owner.
Matt, Doc, Kitty, Festus and Quint
Sam, Festus, Thad, Doc, Matt and Kitty
Screen Captures from Opening Credits
TRIVIA NOTE: The GUNSMOKE program
began on radio in 1952.
Roy Rowan, George Walsh and for a while George Fenneman
narrated the opening:
"Around Dodge City and the territory out west
there's just one way to handle all the killers
and the spoilers, and that's with a US Marshal
and the power of... GUNSMOKE."
The radio role of Matt Dillon was played by
William Conrad who announced at the start of the
"I'm that man...Matt Dillon, US Marshal. The
first man they look for and the last they want
to meet. It's a chancy job, but it makes a man
watchful...a little lonely."
When the series transitioned to TV
John Wayne was offered the role of Matt Dillon,
but instead he recommended a young actor named
James Arness. Wayne
narrated the introduction to the first episode:
"Good evening. My name's Wayne. Some of you may
have seen me before. I hope so. I've been
kicking around Hollywood a long time. I've made
a lot of pictures out here. All kinds. And some of
them have been westerns and that's what I'm here
to tell you about tonight. A western. A new
television show called GUNSMOKE. No, I'm not in
it. I wish I were though because I think its the
best thing of its kind that's come along. It's
honest. It adult. It realistic. When I first
heard about the show GUNSMOKE, I knew there was
only one man to play in it. James Arness. He's a
young fellow, and maybe new to some of you. But
I've worked with him and I predict he'll be a
big star. So you might as well get used to him,
like you've had to get used to me. And now I'm proud to present
my friend Jim Arness in GUNSMOKE.
The TV version began in 1955 as a half-hour series and in the
fall of 1961, it expanded from a half-hour to an hour. The show
became the longest running western in television history.
The series returned to television as made-for-TV movies
- Gunsmoke: Return To Dodge (1987) that reunited Kitty
and Matt after 12 years.
- Gunsmoke II: The Last Apache (1990) where Matt searched
for a friend's daughter kidnapped by Indians.
- Gunsmoke III: To The Last Man (1992) which recounted
the bloody Pleasant Valley War of the 1880s, Arizona.
- Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (1993) as Dillon is chased by
posse convinced he is responsible for a crime.
- Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice (1994) as Matt searches for
robbers and a 15-year-old boy.
From 1961 to 1964 reruns of the half-hour shows (233 episodes)
from the first few seasons were broadcast on Tuesdays on CBS under
the syndicated title
MARSHAL DILLON while the hour long version of the
show continued to air on Saturday nights as GUNSMOKE. See
also "How the West Was Won"
Obituaries: Milburn Stone: 06/12/1980; Amanda Blake:
08/16/1989; Ken Curtis: 04/28/1991; Dennis Weaver:
02/24/2006; Glenn Strange: 09/20/1973; Ted Jordan:
03/30/2005; James Nusser: 06/06/1979; Howard Culver:
Back to Top