The Gunsmoke cast was nothing else than a family on the set, with everybody having a place for themselves, whether it was a leading role or not. And then the blacksmith half breed Quint appeared on the show, outshining some of the other actors.
Burt Reynolds was a newcomer not just on the set, but also in the movie industry. A real beast, he was described by producer Norman Macdonnell as being fearless, whether he was confronting a man or a God. The audience liked his style very much precisely because of that, even if he appeared only in 50 of the show’s 635 episodes.
Burt Reynolds was an ex-football player at the end of his career, precisely because of his personality (as the actor recalls, if he wanted to feel happy about himself he would have fought the first man that would confront his look). He began drinking and was always depressed. So, seeing that nothing works, he took acting lessons.
And the opportunity always pops from where you least expect it. After appearing in the Mister Roberts play in New York, he was contracted for several roles on TV, one of them being in Gunsmoke. In a way, it can be said that it was pure luck for him to appear in the show.
In other ways, it can be said that it was the luck of the producers to spot him. As Norman Macdonnell said, Burt Reynolds was born to be a leading man, even if this won’t happen while appearing in Gunsmoke.
However, that didn’t mean that the actor wouldn’t give his best. Given his personality, everybody was wondering how such an energetic actor can just sit still without just getting up and leaving. But he did just that, managing to work his way into the cast and into the viewers’ minds – from the first episodes he appeared in Gunsmoke he became a favorite.
And this is how Burt Reynolds welcomed all the praise: I don’t care how good or bad I am so long as I’m not dull.
Gunsmoke was just a launching ramp for him. And, after the 60’s passed (he appeared in Gunsmoke from 1962 until 1965), the 70’s belonged to him.