These words heralded the beginning of one of Old West Stories favorite television shows, the Gunsmoke Television series from 1955, the first of 635 shows over 20 seasons. The show holds the record for the longest running show with the most episodes in all of US television history.
Gunsmoke is one of those Old West Stories that appears in books, on radio, television and as a movie. It portrays the life and adventure of an old west lawman in the likeness of Wyatt Earp. The stories all take place in Dodge City, Kansas and the country nearby. Many of the television shows start with Marshal Matt Dillon wandering through the Boot Hill grave yard talking about how men got themselves there including the fact that he was responsible for a good many of them achieving that final resting place.
A string of bad guys come through town including gun slingers of the caliber of Billy the Kid including, in the first episode of the radio show, Billy the Kid himself. Unfortunately, Billy never made an appearance in the television series.
The television shows began on September 10, 1955 and run until March 31, 1975 and was aired on the CBS network to reach that record 635 episodes. All of the lead characters were recast for television with non of the lead actors from the radio series making the transition.
I have listed many of the main actors appearing on the show on the review page for Gunsmoke.
From 1955 to 1961 Gunsmoke was a half an hour show and later went to one hour episodes. Gunsmoke rated as television’s number one show from 1957 through to 1961. The change to an hour format may have contributed to the decline until CBS made plans to end the series in 1967. Viewer outrage followed and the subject even rated a mention in Congress. Gunsmoke continued and it is rumoured that Gilligan’s Island was canned instead. From start to finish, Gunsmoke outlasted some 30 other western shows.
James Arness, Amanda Black, Buck Taylor and Fran Ryan teamed up in 1987 for the Gunsmoke movie, Gunsmoke – Return to Dodge. It was filmed in Canada. Marshall Dillon is a retired fur trapper and is shot by thieves. He is returned to Dodge and Kitty nurses him health before she is held captive before Dillon is forced into one more classic old west show down. It was a massive success and four more movies followed.
The second movie was Gunsmoke – The Last Apache.
The third movie was Gunsmoke – To the Last man.
The fourth movie was Gunsmoke – The Long Ride.
The fifth and final movie was Gunsmoke – One Man’s Justice filmed in 1994.
Old West Stories rates Gunsmoke as a classic. If you haven’t seen it, check out the Gunsmoke Channel on Youtube. Old West Stories thanks the operators of the channel for their work, a job well done.