Gunsmoke: The Ballad of Kitty Russell

Gunsmoke is one of the most successful TV shows of all time. Regularly casted for a total of 20 seasons, this show defined what a Western TV show should be like. One of the biggest appeals this show had is its array of lovable characters with personality.

Characters such as Marshall Matt Dillon and Quint Asper brought the Western setting to life in more ways than one. But one of the most compelling characters in the Gunsmoke series is Kitty Russell. What made Kitty Russell’s character such a big hit, and how does her role contribute in transforming Gunsmoke into the phenomenon that it is?

Kitty Russell is one of the original characters of Gunsmoke. She was born in New Orleans and was raised by a foster mother. Russell then went to Dodge City, Kansas, the setting for the story. Said to be a former prostitute, he is considered as the love interest of the main character Matt Dillon. As for her relationship with Dillon, it was never implied that they have a relationship, true to how the producers want their characters to be: free for interpretation.

There were quite a number of people that was first auditioned for the role of Kitty Russell, but the one who ultimately won the role is Amanda Blake. She is featured in a bunch of television shows and movies before landing her role at Gunsmoke. She would then play the role of Kitty Russell for the next 19 years, joining the likes of James Arness and Milburn Stone as part of the original cast. She was 25 years old then, making her the perfect person to play the 19-year old Kitty. The fact that she had stayed on that role for that long is both a testament to her commitment to the show and its sheer success. In fact, her show commitments might have prevented her from getting more movies.

Given that Blake had a central role on the TV show’s overall success, it came as a complete surprise that she suddenly left. Different stories, both real and reel, have come out regarding this sudden departure. On the reel version, it was suggested during the start of the 20th season, Kitty has left Dodge City to go back to New Orleans. As for the real reason why she left, the speculations are still as wide-ranging as it was before. It is said that Blake just wants some time off from the stresses of filming. But there are also rumors that she misses working with Glenn Strange.

In so many ways, Gunsmoke is a TV show that captured the imagination a lot of people. And this was in part because of the compelling characters that made the Wild West era seem very much alive. One of the characters that made this show so compelling is Kitty Russell, as both her on-screen and off-screen (as in Amanda Blake’s) persona have contributed much to the show’s overall mystique. Kitty Russell was definitely one of the most compelling TV heroines of her generation, and still is even up to this day.


  1. Rhonda Herndon-Carter says:

    What happened to Glen Strange..I am sure he is gone now..but was it suring filming? or why did he leave??

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