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Title Card - GUNSMOKE

CBS Network
1955 - 1975
30/60/120 Minutes

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."

Marshal Dillon faces off with a bad guy - GUNSMOKE

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 dead."
  • 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 friend
  • 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 - GUNSMOKE
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 - GUNSMOKE
Matt, Doc, Kitty, Festus and Quint

Sam, Festus, Thad, Doc, Matt and Kitty - GUNSMOKE
Sam, Festus, Thad, Doc, Matt and Kitty

Buck Taylor as Newly O'Brien - GUNSMOKE
Newly O'Brien

Screen Captures from Opening Credits
Title Card - GUNSMOKE
Milburn Stone as Doc - GUNSMOKE
Amanda Blake as Kitty - GUNSMOKE
Ken Curtis as Festus - GUNSMOKE
James Arness as Matt Dillon - GUNSMOKE


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 show:

"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 including:

  • 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: 08/04/1984.

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