One of the most interesting things about Gunsmoke was that it did pay homage to the real Dodge City of the period. As a fact, the Long Branch Saloon which can be seen in almost every episode of the show was one of the central places of the city when it was first established. There isn’t a document that attests the year the saloon was opened, but it is known that it burned to the ground in the Front Street fire of 1885.
Now a replica stands in its place, being obviously called the same way and featuring live entertainment. The original Long Branch Saloon didn’t serve just beer and other spirits – it also served milk, tea and lemonade. Quite a story this would be, seeing Matt Dillon with a milk moustache.
Another interesting fact is the one of the shooting which began each of the episodes. Leaving aside the place where the shooting took place (the same main street used in High Noon), at one time James Arness let the unknown gunman win.
However, since the anti-violence movement took wings in the ‘70’s, the scene had to be dropped. Instead of this confrontation, each episode began with Matt Dillon riding a horse.
Speaking of shooting, you must have heard of Jonathan Goldsmith, who in the most recent years has become a meme. With over 100 credits under his belt, he was meant to also appear in Gunsmoke, which he did on several occasions. However, if you didn’t know this, he was killed by Matt Dillon for no less than 5 times.
Speaking of popular culture, you surely have heard the expression Get out of Dodge. Well, the expression was made popular by the same Matt Dillon, who used it every now and then when he told the villains to, well, get out of Dodge. The expression was very popular in the ‘60’s and the ‘70’s, whenever teenagers wanted to get away from a bad or (possibly) dangerous situation.
Speaking of Matt Dillon, another interesting fact is that James Arness was the only actor who appeared during the entire run of Gunsmoke, for 635 episodes. Another character can also be remembered, this being Doc Adams. However, in Doc’s case, Milburn Stone skipped 6 episodes after having a heart attack.
But the character appeared in these 6 episodes, being played by Pat Hingle (commissioner Gordon from Tim Burton’s Batman films).