Western drama series Gunsmoke was conceived by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston for the American radio and television. It takes place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, in the 1870s, during the American West’s settlement.
Marshal Matt Dillon, portrayed on radio and television by William Conrad and James Arness, is the show’s principal figure. Originally titled Gun Law, the television series was then renamed Gunsmoke when it aired in the United Kingdom.
From 1952 through 1961, the radio series aired on the air. According to John Dunning, “Gunsmoke is frequently listed among the top shows of any genre and any time” among radio drama lovers. 635 episodes were produced over the course of 20 seasons, from 1955 to 1975.
Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith concluded his tenure in 1975 by writing: “Gunsmoke was a reimagining of the American epic narrative of the western frontier. Dime novel and pulp western tropes like those popularised by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and Mark Twain inspired our own version of Homer’s epic poem. It was always a subject of folklore.”
- As a bartender, Sam Noonan served Bert Rumsey from 1955 to 1959.
- As a bartender, Clem Fuller worked from 1959 until 1961.
- Glenn Strange and Sam Noonan
- Robert Brubaker was a stage driver from 1957 to 1962 and a bartender from 1974 to 1975.
- Burt Reynolds as blacksmith Quint Asper (1962–1965)
- Roger Ewing served as Deputy Marshal Clayton Thaddeus “Thad” Greenwood during 1965 to 1967.
- Buck Taylor, alias Newly O’Brian (gunsmith and deputy marshal; 1967–1975)
- Dabbs Greer was Wilbur Jonas, a storekeeper from 1955 to 1963.
- howard culver howie uzzell (hotel clerk, 1955-1975)
- George Selk (stableman; 1955–1963): Moss Grimmick
- In 1955–56, Judson Pratt was Long Branch owner/co-owner with Bill Pence.
- Barney Phillips (Bill Pence, 1958–1961)
- In the words of stagecoach driver Jim Buck (who served from 1957 to 1962),
- James Nusser as Louie Pheeters (a town drunk from 1961 to 1970):
- Sarah Selby (boardinghouse owner; 1961–1972): Ma Smalley.
- He was a stableman from 1963 to 1975.
- He was a banker from 1963 to 1970.
- Charles Seel was a telegraph agent from 1965 to 1974.
- Roy Barcroft, a town councilman from 1965 to 1969.
- Charles Wagenheim (rancher; 1966-1975) was the father of Halligan.
- Woody Chambliss (storekeeper, 1966-1975): Mr. Lathrop
- To quote Nathan Burke (1966–1975), a former freight agent:
- Undertaker: Percy Crump (Kelton Garwood; 1966–1972) (later credited as Jonathan Harper)
- “Tom Brown” was Ed O’Connor’s (rancher; 1968-1972).
- Judge Brooker (1970–1975): Herb Vigran
- Pat Hingle, in Dr. John Chapman (1971):
- Fran Ryan played Miss Hannah (saloon owner; 1974–75)
Milburn Stone, Better Known as “doc,” Did Not Leave “gunsmoke” by Choice.
Milburn Stone, who played Doc Adams on Gunsmoke from 1955 until 1975, was a beloved actor who may be familiar to Gunsmoke fans (and Howard McNear on the radio).
The old series’ star, Milburn, appeared in 605 episodes during the show’s two decades on air, but there were a handful he didn’t. However, there have been lingering suspicions concerning Doc’s departure from Gunsmoke in the 1970s. See what we already know by scrolling down!
What Prompted Doc to Leave ‘gunsmoke’?
Despite the assumption that performers leave shows because of drama behind the scenes, Doc Adams didn’t leave Gunsmoke of his own free own. According to IMBD, he appeared in an astonishing 605 of the 635 episodes that aired between 1955 and 1975.
However, in 1971, he had to quit the show for just a few episodes because he needed heart surgery following a heart attack.
Actor Pat Hingle was brought in to play Dr. Chapman while Milburn recovered from a health scare, but he returned to the show for its final four seasons and Pat was sent packing. Over the course of the show’s 20 seasons, only James Arness as Matt Dillon, the show’s protagonist, has appeared in all of the episodes.