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yelladawg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-04 07:15 AM
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Today's Fact
Friday, September 10, 2004

Actor James Arness brought Marshall Matt Dillon to life on this night in 1955. Gunsmoke debuted on CBS-TV and went on to become the longest-running (20 years) series on television. The pioneer in adult westerns also starred Milburn Stone as Doc Adams, Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty Russell, and Dennis Weaver as Chester Goode. Other well-known performers joined the cast throughout the years -- Ken Curtis as Festus Hagan and Burt Reynolds as Quint Asper, the town blacksmith, were two favorites.
Gunsmoke had enjoyed a radio run of three years with William Conrad (Cannon) playing Marshall Dillon before the TV version went on the air. The two ran simultaneously for six more years. An interesting note: CBS first choice for the role of the resolute, determined Matt Dillon was John Wayne. Wayne did not want to become involved with a weekly TV show at the time and suggested his friend, James Arness. The suggestion was magic. Arness, the only cast member other than Milburn Stone to stay in the role for the full twenty years, became Matt Dillon. The casting couldnt have been better.

The show was saved from cancellation in the 1960s when its popularity had waned. CBS owner William S. Paley, a fan of Gunsmoke, demanded the the western be put on the fall schedule.

Not only was Gunsmoke the longest-running series with a regular cast of characters; but when it finally did meet its demise, it was the last of the network Westerns to go.

Oh, Mister Dillon! (Say it with a twang, please.)

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