GUNSMOKE ran from 1955-1975 making it the longest running hour long television show. The first episode was introduced by none other than John Wayne. The actor chosen to play the title role was James Arness who had appeared in many movies including some with John Wayne. Arness was not yet a star though but the show would soon make him one. Gunsmoke was already a hit radio show with William Conrad voicing the lead character "Matt Dillon." This was still early for television and the radio would continue to air until June 11, 1961. The original three main characters of the television show were James Arness as Matt Dillon, Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty, Milburn Stone as Doctor "Doc" Adams and Dennis Weaver as Chester. Later Chester was replaced by Ken Curtis as Festus. Those five were the major stars of the show. Major supporting roles included Bert Rumsey as the first bartender Sam Noonan, Glenn Strange replaced Rumsey, Roger Ewing as Thad, Buck Taylor as Newly and Bert Reynolds as Quint the blacksmith. Other supporting roles included Ted Jordan as Burke, James Nusser as Louie the town drunk, Dabbs Greer as Mr. Jonas, George Selk as Moss Grimmick plus too many more to mention. Jordan is the man who gets shot in every color episode opening. He also wrote a tell all book about his romance with Marilyn Monroe.

Gunsmoke is one of those shows that is impossible to collect everyone since so many are hard to find. I have myself settled for the top five plus Glenn Strange all of those did over 230 episodes no others matched that. I have scores of others that were in Gunsmoke but long ago gave up on concentrating on it. Without doubt it is my favorite television western and I watch it over and over. As a boy watching every Saturday I was sure that Matt was a goner since the bullet was also next to the spine! The real Matt Dillon I have always assumed died of lead poisoning while Festus and Newly likely of fractured skulls from being knocked out so many times. My favorite episode of all time was "The Snow Train" a two part episode. If there was a western star that did not appear on Gunsmoke it is probably because they were on Bonanza or Big Valley. A sad fact that so few young people today know about those shows let alone ever watch them.

James Arness in talking about the show stated his character "Matt Dillon" hated violence of any kind. This may be a surprising statement for the star of a western but it is absolutely true. Dillon never shot a man unless forced into and as Arness said there was always a reaction shot of him with a look of being repulsed by the fact he had to kill a man. Matt Dillon was not a "Dirty Harry" he did not want any one to make his day by drawing on him. He was a honest peace officer in the strictest sense of the word. Gunsmoke was called the first "adult" western and watching it today there are so many things I missed as boy. I will add that the best villain that ever appeared in an episode was Bette Davis! She is absolutely frightening in it.

The number of episodes a person appears is not always a good indication of what to collect but in the case of Gunsmoke it is a good start. The numbers are from internet movie database and include a few episodes that the person is credited but did not appear in. Buck Taylor with 174 and Ted Jordan with 131 were the only ones to reach 100 episodes other than bit players. Honorable mention needs to be made to Pat Hingle who took over the major role as "Dr. John Chapman" who filled in for "Doc" for six episodes in 1971 when Milburn Stone had surgery. For my own personal collection I consider the must have autographs to be the following with the disclaimer that Rumsey, Reynolds, Ewing and Taylor are also important.

James Arness (635)

Milburn Stone (605)

Amanda Blake (569)

Ken Curtis (306)

Dennis Weaver (290)

Glenn Strange (238)

I suppose the last thing I need to do is add another discussion no one much is interested in but here I go...

Tags: Arness, Gunsmoke

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DABBS GREER (1917-2007) is best known as the gentle Rev. Alden on Little House on the Prairie as well as the later movie.  He also gave a stellar performance in The Green Mile playing Tom Hank's character as an old man.  He appeared in four episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and two Twilight Zone episodes.  Greer was a prolific character actor especially in TV westerns such as Bonanza and The Lone Ranger.  Greer was one of the minor supporting actors on Gunsmoke playing store keeper Wilbur Jonas in some 40 plus episodes.  This is from a TLS in later years:

If you recall, Scott, Dabs Greer was in a Superman episode.

Hi Christopher, I had forgotten he was in three episodes.  He was the first person saved by Superman!   I have not seen The Adventures of Superman in a long time.  If you recall the episode where Perry White sees Ceasar's ghost, the man who played him was Trevor Bardette.  I would like to do a collection, but the last thing I need is another collection to work on.

You're right, Scott...the last thing you need is to start a new collection.  LOL.

My problem is that I will see an actor or actress, especially a character, then pretty soon, i think I need them all.  That is how most of my collections get started. Fortunately, so many, like TAGS, Gunsmoke, Bewitched, Twilight Zone, Bob Newhart Show, etc, all overlap with actors!

BUCK TAYLOR played Newly O'Brien on Gunsmoke.  He also appeared in the first season episode of The Outer Limits S1E17, "Don't Open Till Doomsday" (1964).   Recently he won critical claim for his performances as the recurring character Emmett Walsh on Yellowstone.  The following are five photographs I bought from Buck Taylor in December 2022.

Love it. I also purchased though Buck Taylor's site a few years ago. A class act. I had no idea he was on Yellowstone. I'll have to watch it now. :-)

Thank you, Steve.  Yes, he was on seven or eight episodes.  I have only seen clips of it.  I want to watch it.  I have heard good things about it.  Mr. Taylor is one of the last of the great actors who enjoys his fans.  He is a very talented artist too.  On Yellowstone, he looks just like my great-grandfather who was in the 14th U. S. Infantry in the Civil War and after the war was at Fort Yuma!    This was a signed newspaper he included with other things in the package!

I didn't know he was in Yellowstone either until my girlfriend convinced me to watch it.

BUCK TAYLOR another photograph I bought from him in December 2022.  A great shot of Newly with Matt Dillon.

BUCK TAYLOR as Newly O'Brien the gunsmith on Gunsmoke this is one of five photographs I bought from him in December 2022.

BUCK TAYLOR with Milburn Stone, Glenn Strange, Amanda Blake, James Arness, and Ken Curtis the cast of Gunsmoke from the 1960s and 1970s.   Another of the five photographs I bought from Buck in December 2022.



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