James Arness, Amanda Blake, and John Wayne Hollywood heroes in Westerns?



Go West!

James Arness, Amanda Blake, and John Wayne American heroes as star celebs in Hollywood Westerns?

[Jun. 5]

Gunsmoke was a popular television series based on life in the Wild, Wild West that aired from 1955 to 1975. Recently deceased actor James Arness played the lead role Marshal Matt Dillon, while his love interest Miss Kitty was played by the lovely red-headed actress Amanda Blake. The Marshal’s assistant was named Chester, a character played by actor Dennis Weaver. He won an Emmy for playing that role; however, when he left the show the beloved and quirky character of Festus Haggen took over as a TV show favorite, a part that was played by a well-respected theater actor named Ken Curtis. Actor Milburn Stone played the character called Doc. TV shows back in the day featured complex plots with simple story line development, so viewers were engaged with the show on both an individual episode and long-term series level. Gunsmoke originally aired on CBS television, but is now a television show most would look to find as re-runs on cable network television stations or that folks would seek to buy on DVD to watch with their kids and grandkids. Why? Because during the time Gunsmoke aired the show sought to promote good morals. People lived off the land in a more sustainable way with respect for the environment. Relationships were less complex and the focus in daily life was placed on community harmony. There was a clearer sense of right and wrong the TV show portrayed back in the day — something noticeably from many modern television series. For that reason, many of the star celebs who became household names thanks to cast members earning 4 Golden Globes nominations and 3 Emmy Awards are looked upon as American pop culture heroes.


Who is James Arness?

Gunsmoke actor James Arness played the television character of Marshal Matt Dillon. In Dodge City, Marshal Matt Dillon was a well-respected man, loved by law-abiding citizens and hated by criminals. Actor James Arness was born in 1923. He died in 2011 at his celebrity home in Los Angeles. In real life, James Arness was drafted into the army to fight in WWII. He was in the invasion of Anzio and known as a war hero. Wounded in the foot by machine gun fire, he earned a Purple Heart medal from the military. His brother, Peter Graves, was also an well respected Hollywood actor; he played in the television series Mission Impossible from 1966 to 1973. Aside from Gunsmoke, James Arness also starred in several movies including mini series How The West Was Won.


Who is Amanda Blake?

Marshal Matt Dillon had love in his heart for one very special woman: Miss Kitty, played by the actress Amanda Blake. Kitty was an entertainer who owned the Dodge City town saloon Matt Dillon frequented, and he was in love with the red-haired beauty for her sharp intelligence, keen wit, and for simply being the prettiest woman in town who could probably out drink a man if challenged (not that she did, but watching the show one always had the feeling she could if she set her mind to doing it). In real life actress Amanda Black was born in 1929 and died in 1989. Her real name was Beverly Louise Neill and she was a telephone operator before she took up the job of being one of television’s favorite actresses. A pet friendly celebrity, and fromed the largest and oldest no-kill animal shelter in the state of Arizona. She helped finance the non-profit organization P.A.W.S. — the Perfroming Animal Welfare Society — as a green celebrity.


Who is John Wayne?

John Wayne, probably the most famous of all movie stars to play a cowboy on film in any Western, actually turned down the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in the hit television series Gunsmoke. While John Wayne had a long running movie career starring primarily in Westerns and Military films, fans know he would have also made an excellent Marshal. Born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907, the screen actor died in 1979. Big title movies included films like The Shootist (his last film about a professional gun fighter who was dying of cancer). At the time it was filmed, John Wayne had already been diagnosed with stomach cancer and lung cancer. He appeared in roughly 250 Hollywood movies, with some of the best being Westerns such as Fort Apache, Rio Lobo, The Commancheros, The Searchers, Rooster Cogburn, and True Grit.