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Ken Festus Curtis Country Singer

Updated on November 13, 2016

Ken Festus Curtis Golden Voice

This is a dedication to a golden voice. I was amazed, as many will be for the first time, that Ken Festus Curtis (Gunsmoke) could truly be the owner of such a beautiful voice. It is my objective to introduce, to those who may not know, Ken Curtis. I hope to enlighten folks of this actor's entertaining voice and give tribute to the man behind it.

His great voice is heard mostly through western movies. You probably heard his voice if you ever listened to the Sons of the Pioneers sing. Below you will find a list of movies he has co-stared in. And let's not forget his wonderful TV appearance in Gunsmoke!

Golden Voice

Ken Curtis signing Tumbling Tumbleweeds

Movie Star

A List of Movies Ken Curtis Appeared In.


1991 Conagher

1990 Cry-Baby

1988 Once Upon a Texas Train

1983 Lost

1981 California Gold Rush

1981 Legend of the Wild

1976 The Pony Express Rider

1973 Robin Hood

1964 Cheyenne Autumn

1962 How the West Was Won

1961 Two Rode Together

1960 My Dog, Buddy

1960 The Alamo

1960 Freckles

1959 The Killer Shrews

1959 The Young Land

1959 The Giant Gila Monster

1959 The Horse Soldiers

1959 Escort West

1958 The Last Hurrah

1958 The Missouri Traveler

1957 The Wings of Eagles

1957 Spring Reunion

1956 The Searchers

1955 The Long Gray Line

1955 Mister Roberts

1952 The Quiet Man

1951 Don Daredevil Rides Again

1950 Rio Grande

1949 Stallion Canyon

1949 Riders of the Pony Express

1949 Call of the Forest

1947 Over the Santa Fe Trail

1946 Out of the Depths

1946 Cowboy Blues

1946 Throw a Saddle on a Star

1946 Singing on the Trail

1946 Lone Star Moonlight

1945 Song of the Prairie

1945 Rhythm Round-Up

1945 Growing Older Gracefully

1945 Letter from Plum Creek

Singing, Ripcord and Gunsmoke

Ken Curtis, passed away at the age of 74 in 1991 (Fresno, Calif). Born Curtis Gates in Bent County, in the dry lands of Colorado where his father was Sheriff. As a boy, he helped out in his father's jail in Colorado. He worked on the family ranch and at the town jail and studied saxophone in high school.

He came to Los Angeles in 1938 and became a staff singer on NBC Radio, where he was heard by composer Johnny Mercer and singer Jo Stafford.

Ken worked as vocalist with several bands including Tommy Dorsey's during the late 1930s; Dorsey had him change name to Curtis. Ken served in infantry and in anti-aircraft unit during WWII.


In 1962, TV show Ripcord appear as an half hour adventure series with a pair of parachutists who operated Ripcord, Inc., a skydiving school. Larry Pennell and Ken Curtis starred as partners. The series was produced for United Artists.

In the fall of 1964, the character of Festus Haggen a backwoodsman who became the new deputy and who provided comic relief formerly supplied by Chester Dennis Weaver), was added to the famous TV program Gunsmoke.

FROM THE TUBE - Festus - One of a Kind

And, how could you not love the character of Festus on Gunsmoke. Check out these clips.

Notice, Ken Curtis singing Cassons go rolling along.....he was so young!

Don't Fence Me In.



Was It That Look in His Eye?

His seedy, drawling, unwashed Gunsmoke character with the squinty eyes and drooping hat became so beloved that when Dennis Weaver left the role of Chester Goode in 1964, Mr. Curtis signed on as his

replacement for the remaining 11 years of what proved the most enduring Western series in TV history.

Great Stuff on Amazon

Sons of the Pioneers...

Ken Curtis is second from left as you face the video.

Sons of the Pioneers

Ken Curtis was with the Sons of the Pioneers as a lead singer from 1949 to 1952. The Sons of the Pioneers were and are the foremost western vocal group in history. Ken's big hits with the group included "Room Full of Roses" and "Riders in the Sky". The Sons also worked in radio and on film soundtracks, including Rio Grande (1950), for director John Ford, who was a big fan.

I Am My Own Grandpa!

Many many years ago when I was twenty three,

I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.

This widow had a grown-up daughter

Who had hair of red.

My father fell in love with her,

And soon the two were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law

And changed my very life.

My daughter was my mother,

For she was my father's wife.

To complicate the matters worse,

Although it brought me joy,

I soon became the father

Of a bouncing baby boy.

My little baby then became

A brother-in-law to dad.

And so became my uncle,

Though it made me mad.

For if he was my uncle,

Then that also made him brother

To the widow's grown-up daughter

Who, of course, was my step-mother.

Father's wife then had a son,

Who kept them on the run.

And he became my grandson,

For he was my daughter's son.

My wife is now my mother's mother

And it makes me blue.

Because, although she is my wife,

She's my grandmother too.

If my wife is my grandmother,

Then I am her grandchild.

And every time I think of it,

It simply drives me wild.

For now I have become

The strangest case you ever saw.

As the husband of my grandmother,

I am my own grandpa!

I'm my own gran'pa! I'm my own gran'pa!

It sounds funny I know, but it really is so I'm my own gran'pa!


Home of the Range

Howdy, Please Stop By the Questbook!

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Dang, I never knew until recently that Ken Curtis had such an amazing voice. A great loss for his fans that he did not record more solo albums during his career.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I did watch the show when I was young. I had no idea he sang so beautifully, I do remember the Sons of the Pioneers from their songs in the Disney movies and shows. Great lens on a little known fact about him!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      It is great that the guy who amused us as Festus had such a gorgeous voice.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      One of my personal favorites. Thanks for this great Lens.

      Jay Beacham

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens! I had the delight of hearing him sing when I was a little girl attending the Arkansas State Fair. I had no idea he could sing like he did. I'm so glad you honored him like you did. *Blessed *

    • vineliner57 profile image

      Hal Gall 

      6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      He was a pretty good actor as well!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, didn't know old Festus could sing. Not bad either.

    • ERiverDogs profile image


      6 years ago

      I especially enjoyed his performance on Rio Grande with the Pioneers. Great talent.

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Wordstock, I am glad you enjoyed your visit. Yes, I was surprised when I first heard him sing - what a voice. He did well in his singing and acting.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      6 years ago from So Cal

      We (my husband and I) liked this very much. So much, in fact, that I am adding it to my tumbleweed lens and blessing it. Great job. I love the Sons of the Pioneers and didn't know that he was a member.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a wonderful article.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 

      6 years ago from Redcar

      It was quite a surprise to hear Ken Curtis sing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yuppers, I knew about Ken Curtis being a great singer and heard him on several shows growing up...of course, loved him as Festus Hagen...and all around person of excellence!

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Lady Lorelei: Yes, I was surprised as well when I first found out he was with the Sons of the Pioneers. Such talent. Thanks for your comments and visit.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I loved Festus but I had no idea that he also sang. What a wonderful article. Listening to him sing it is hard to imagine him as the Gunsmoke character.... his voice is amazing.

    • Philippians468 profile image


      7 years ago

      this is classic! thanks for sharing! cheers

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Yes, I was amazed when I found out. I just love Squidoo because we get to share so many things with our Squidoo friends. Thanks for stopping by.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      I did not know any of these things about him

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! I had no idea he could sing!

    • AppalachianCoun profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens. We enjoyed him so much. Thank-you for this wonderful lens.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      This is truly interesting and new info too.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! 5 from me! ;)

    • Sarunas profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens : )

      5* from me. Well Done.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      10 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Great 5 star lens.

      I want to feature yours on mine:

      Gunsmoke TV Show - Still Quality Entertainment

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Love Festus! Thank you for reminding me of him. Wow! What a surprise to hear that great singing voice!

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 

      10 years ago

      Oh, I remember and loved Gunsmoke, and especially "Festus", but I didn't know he sang.

    • gmarlett lm profile image

      gmarlett lm 

      10 years ago

      Hey there, nice Lens. I used to just love it when he would come into the Sheriff's Office and say "Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon"!


    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I barely remember some of the movies that he was in, but I know I have seen quite a few, I love the old westerns. There were some great actors in those days. Nice lens.


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