William Conrad played Marshall Matt Dillon on the radio. He was considered too big for the TV role.
John Wayne was offered the part of Matt Dillon, but he wanted to stay in movies so he suggested James Arness for the role. He then convinced Arness that he should play the part.
John Wayne introduced the first episode of “Gunsmoke”, September 10, 1955
Gunsmoke started as a 30 minute show and was later expanded to 1 hour
James Arness real life brother is Peter Graves who starred in “Mission Impossible”
James Arness was a WWII veteran who was wounded in the foot and leg in Italy when he was one of the first soldiers to storm the beaches. He received a medical discharge but his injury caused him to have problems with his legs. He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, the European–African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 3 bronze stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge
James Arness was 6 feet 7 inches tall
Matt Dillon would often sit in a chair in front of his office and snooze with his hat over his eyes
Marshall Dillon slept in his office
Buck was the name of Matt Dillon’s horse
Miss Kitty was the red headed saloon owner who was Matt Dillon’s girlfriend. The part was played by Amanda Blake who had been a telephone operator before she was an actress
Amanda Blake died August 16, 1989
It was Dennis Weaver’s idea that Chester have a limp.
Chester had a brother named Magnus
Dennis Weaver was only 6 feet 2 inches tall. He was an environmentalist and vegetarian
Festus Haggan’s twin brother was named Ferges. He died before Festus met Matt
Festus had a male cousin named Maude
Festus mule was named Ruth
Doc’s name was Galen Adams
The jail, Doc’s office and the Saloon were all on Front Street which was the main street in Dodge
The population of Dodge City during the time of Gunsmoke was approximately 1000 people
Harve Daley (Gary Busey) was the last man killed on the show
President Lyndon Johnson’s wife Ladybird was a huge fan of the show. When she learned Arness was a Republican she felt personally betrayed
Gunsmoke was scheduled to be cancelled because of low ratings in 1967. CBS president William Paley and his wife were big fans of the show so he tried moving it to Monday from Saturday (knocking out Gilligan’s Island in the process). The TV show got back in the top 10 rankings for another 8 years.
Dennis Weaver, Milburn Stone (Doc) and Amanda Blake teamed up to sing together. They broke the attendance record at the Albuquerque Arena during the 1960 New Mexico State Fair
Gunsmoke ran for 20 years. It was TVs longest running prime time drama until the 2009/2010 season when it tied with Law and Order