Gunsmoke One Of The Most Popular TV Shows In History

Gunsmoke Was One Of The Most Popular TV Shows Ever

James Arness Played Matt Dillion on the CBS TV Show Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke was one of the most popular TV Shows in the history of US Television Shows, Do you remember watching Gunsmoke.
James Arness Played Matt Dillion on the CBS TV Show Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke was one of the most popular TV Shows in the history of US Television Shows, Do you remember watching Gunsmoke.

Gunsmoke Was One Of The Most Popular TV Shows In History

The show always started with US Marshal Matt Dillon drawing down against a gunman in the street of Dodge. Dodge was Dodge City Kansas. What a lot of people don't know is that Gunsmoke was a radio show on the CBS network from 1952 - 1961 and it was quite popular as a radio show. At the time the radio show was considered a show for adults.

Gunsmoke was centered in and around Dodge City Kansas. It occurred during the settlement of the old west. Before it was over Gunsmoke was one of the most popular TV shows ever on American television. The TV show Gunsmoke ran from 1955 to 1975 and when it ended it was almost as popular as it was when it first started. Today the TV show Gunsmoke is shown on TV channels like TV Land and other popular Cable TV channels. With a lot of the older American TV audience today Gunsmoke is as popular today as it ever was.

As hard as it may be to believe CBS did not inform any of the cast of Gunsmoke that the show would be canceled after the 1975 season. James Arness and other stars of the show read the news of the end of Gunsmoke in the Hollywood trade papers. Why CBS canceled the show when it was still in the top 30 TV shows is still not known to this day.

Many people don't know that American Actor John Wayne did the introduction for the first television episode of Gunsmoke. Wayne was asked to play Matt Dillon in the TV show but he suggested his good friend James Arness. In the introduction for that first episode Wayne tells viewers a little bit about James Arness and then he says and now here is James Arness in Gunsmoke. And the rest is history. Many people will tell you that there are episodes where John Wayne appeared as a guest in Gunsmoke but no that never happened. That is only an urban legend.

Many people will also tell you they watched the wedding of Miss Kitty and Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke but that also never happened. It's amazing how urban legends can get started and be accepted as fact.

Before it was over there were 635 episodes of Gunsmoke. The show was a half hour show from 1955 through 1961 when it was extended to an hour and it remained a hour long show until it ended in 1975. The last episode of the show was shown on March 31 1975. The show was first aired at 10 PM on Saturday night but then it was moved to Monday nights at 7.30 PM and then in 1971 it was moved to 8 PM where it stayed until the show ended in 1975.

Gunsmoke Trivia Questions

1. In the radio version of Gunsmoke who played Marshal Dillon?

A. William Conrad.

2. What actor was first offered the television role of Marshal Matt Dillon but he turned it down?

A. John Wayne.

3. What pair of actors appear in every year of the TV Show Gunsmoke?

A. James Arness as Matt Dillon and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams.

4. What actor left Gunsmoke and later starred as a modern day lawman?

A. Dennis Weaver.

5. What actor left Gunsmoke to become one of the biggest stars of the 1970s?

A. Burt Reynolds who played Quint Asper from 1962 - 1965.

6. Who is the brother of James Arness who played Matthew Dillon?

A. Peter Graves, Graves stared on Mission Impossible and Fury.

7. Who did actor Ken Curtis play on Gunsmoke?

A. He played deputy Festus Haggen. He started as a singer with the Tommy Dorsey Band.

8. Gunsmoke was the longest running drama on television. How long did it run?

A. Twenty years from 1955 - 1975

9. What was the name of the bartender at the Long Branch for most of the TV Series?

A. Sam

10. What was the name of the popular hotel on the show.

A. The Dodge House.

11. What year did Gunsmoke first appear on television?

A. 1955.

12. What actress played the owner of the Long Branch.

A. Amanda Blake played Kitty Russell who owned the Long Branch Saloon. Amanda Blake passed away on August 16 1989.

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Photos Of The Cast Of Gunsmoke

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In this photo you can see the main cast of the TV Show Gunsmoke. Clockwise from top: James Arness (Matt), Ken Curtis (Festus), Amanda Blake (Kitty), and Milburn Stone (Doc) in 1968. Chester is not in the photo but he was the earlier deputy.
In this photo you can see the main cast of the TV Show Gunsmoke. Clockwise from top: James Arness (Matt), Ken Curtis (Festus), Amanda Blake (Kitty), and Milburn Stone (Doc) in 1968. Chester is not in the photo but he was the earlier deputy.
In this photo you can see the main cast of the TV Show Gunsmoke. Clockwise from top: James Arness (Matt), Ken Curtis (Festus), Amanda Blake (Kitty), and Milburn Stone (Doc) in 1968. Chester is not in the photo but he was the earlier deputy.

Gunsmoke Ran On American Television For 20 Years

Miss. Kitty and Matt Dillon clearly had a close personal relationship but they never married. The shows producers thought it would be better that way. Miss Kitty stayed with the show until the final season when she was written out of the show. In the show Dillon and Miss Kitty were always close. In many shows Kitty worried about where was Matt and if Kitty was ever in trouble Matt was always quick to come to her aid.

In Toby Keith's 1991 hit "Should've Been A Cowboy" the entire first verse of the song was about the relationship between Miss Kitty and Matt Dillon. In the song it says that Miss Kitty would have said yes and married Matt Dillon in a New York minute but Dillon's heart wasn't in it. He stole a kiss as he rode away. In the TV version of Gunsmoke Miss Kitty would have gladly have accepted a proposal of marriage from Matt Dillon but she knew Dillon could be killed and taken from her at any moment. Matt Dillon lived a adventouras but dangerous life as the US Marshal in Dodge City Kansas,

While the CBS radio show Gunsmoke had been aimed towards a more adult audience CBS tamed down the show somewhat for television. Especially after the show was moved from Saturday night at 10 PM to Monday night at 7.30 PM. It was implied on the show that Matt and Miss Kitty were girlfriend and boyfriend there were very few signs of affection between Kitty and Matt.

For over a decade on the TV show a sign hung outside Doc's office with the name Dr. G. Adams. Milburn Stone who played Doc was allowed to decide what the G stood for. He picked the name Galen after an ancient Greek Physician. In the earlier radio show the story line was that Doc was from back east and that he had killed a man in a duel over a woman who he later married. He brought the young woman west with him but she died of typhus. Doc wandered around the west before settling in Dodge City, Kansas. The story went that he changed his name from Calvin Moore to Charles Adams when he settled in Dodge City. Though most of this was never mentioned on any of the television episodes of Gunsmoke.

In case you're wondering that very first episode of Gunsmoke aired on September 10th 1955 and the last episode was aired on March 31 1975. The show was thirty minutes long when it first started but it was later changed to a hour long show. There were 635 episodes of Gunsmoke and it is seen in reruns almost every day in America.

The accepted backstory of the characters on Gunsmoke is that Matt Dillon was raised in an orphanage and when he grew up he came west as a cowboy who later went on to become a famous lawman United States Marshal Matt Dillon. Contrary to popular belief Matt Dillon was a fictitious character and was not a real person. In real life James Arness started out as a radio announcer in Minnesota in 1948. James Arness was a American veteran and he was wounded in the leg in Anzio during the Second World War by machine gun fire.

The story about Miss Kitty was that she was originally from New Orleans and that she had no living family. Amanda Blake in real life died of AIDS.

Another almost unknown fact about the TV show Gunsmoke is that the show was about to be canceled in 1967 but the President of CBS instead canceled the TV show Gilligan's Island and moved Gunsmoke from Saturday night to Monday night. Before long the show was back on top and it played for eight more years.

The last nine years of the show were one hour long and they were in color.

Not a lot of people know that Matt Dillon's horse was named Buck or that Doc's horse was named Popcorn. In many episodes of the 1968 - 1971 episodes of Gunsmoke a large yellow cat is seen in the background. What most people don't know is that the cat was a walk on. He just kept showing up in shots and he is left in many shots because they would have had to re shoot the episodes to get rid of the cat. The cat vanished from the set in late 1971. No one knows what actually happened to the cat.

It's an interesting fact that Festus Haggen did go on to become a deputy US marshal in the show but Matt Dillon's earlier side kick Chester was never a real deputy US marshal.

The episodes from the last nine years of Gunsmoke are rarely seen in re runs on Cable TV. Most of the episodes seen on TV Land and other Cable TV channels are from the early years of Gunsmoke.

There has been talk recently of a remake of the TV Show Gunsmoke. It would be interesting to see who would star in a remake of Gunsmoke. And how popular would a remake of the show be in today's television market. My guess is that it would be a very popular show.

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What did you think of the TV Show Gunsmoke? Please post your comments now. 9 comments

old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi crazyhorse. I have checked on Google and yes, Gunsmoke was re-titled Gunlaw in the uk. Now though we have the series and it has it's American title of Gunsmoke, they are of course re-runs. Great series.

Graham.


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 3 years ago from East Coast , United States Author

I can't find anything about a show called Gunlaw but that doesn't mean it didn't exist. Thanks for the comment.


old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Iwatched an episode of Gunsmoke in England yesterday. 27/04/13. Was the series originally called Gunlaw? I feel sure that I remember James Arness playing Matt Dillon in a show of that name.

A great and interesting hub. Well done.

Voted up and all.

Graham.


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 3 years ago from East Coast , United States Author

Thanks for your comment. It is appreciated. I also watch Gunsmoke almost every day.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

I still watch Gunsmoke nearly everyday. I like most all of the western classics. You did a great job on this hub. Voted up.


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 3 years ago from East Coast , United States Author

Your very welcome. Thanks for the comment. Glad to see you reading my Hubs. Thanks.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I loved Gunsmoke! Thank you for reminding me of how much I loved it!


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 3 years ago from East Coast , United States Author

Thanks very much. It is one of my favorite all time shows. I hope CBS makes the remake they are thinking of doing.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

It was my favorite show and was my Dad's also. We watched it together and one of the few we did . Always in my fond memories and thanks for bringing these back, my friend, whonu

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