Gunsmoke, the television western
series, originally started on radio in 1952
with William Conrad the voice of Matt Dillon. When it was
decided to move to television John Wayne was asked to be
Marshall Matt Dillon but he turned it down because he didn't
want the rigors of doing a weekly television show. John
Wayne recommended James Arness, a relatively new actor. John
Wayne introduced the first episode when it aired on CBS in
1955. There was a total of 233 thirty minute episodes and 402
sixty minute episodes produced. It is still the longest running
western ever produced.
Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City,
Kansas. Although Marshall Dillon and Kitty Russell, who own the
Long Branch Saloon, had a flirtuous relationship, they never
got together in the entire 20 years on TV.
Doc Adams was the town doctor, who
just like everybody else hung out at the Long
There were many cast changes over
the years. Chester, the deputy, (played by Dennis Weaver)
left the show in 1964 and Festus Hagan, a hillbilly by
definition of the word, became the deputy and remained
for the rest of the show.
A young Burt Reynolds played the
town's blacksmith for short period of time. The series began in
1955 and ended 20 years later.
CBS aired the reruns as
Sam, the bartender
Clayton Thaddeus 'Thad'