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When you talk about the television series Gunsmoke, you are talking about the most famous series in television history. Gunsmoke is also the most unique television series that has ever been broadcast on television. Not only was it originally a radio series, but when CBS television decided to put it on television John Wayne introduced it.

The actor William Conrad portrayed Marshall Dillon when Gunsmoke was on radio. However, he could not have the same part on television. William Conrad was obese. His role was acceptable on radio, due to his very distinctive voice. That is why CBS had to be careful in their auditions for the role of Marshall Dillon on television. CBS wanted John Wayne in the lead. However, at that time in Hollywood, doing a television series was considered a step down for any movie star. But John Wayne was the one, who strongly recommended to CBS, that James Arness would be perfect for the lead.

So on Saturday, September 10, 1955, at 10:00 p.m., John Wayne went on national television and introduced Gunsmoke. He also assured the American people that James Arness was perfect for the role of Marshall Dillon. The show was only 30 minutes long for the first 6 years. Then, in 1961 CBS decided to extend it to an hour. The series, in its entirety, lasted 20 years. It was an adult dramatic western television series. There were none on the air at that time. Gunsmoke broke new ground with the format.

The characters in Gunsmoke were easy to like and admire. Marshall Matt Dillon was the sheriff of Dodge City, Kansas. Miss Kitty Russell, Doc Adams and Chester Goode round out the original cast. They were people with values and courage. You could look up to them. The American viewing public welcomed these people into their living rooms every week for twenty years. No western in television history has ever accomplished this feat. CBS hit gold with Gunsmoke.

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CBS
20 Seasons, 636 Episodes - Ended
Action & Adventure, Drama
9/10
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Gunsmoke Full Episode Guide

  • Ann Marie Pugh needs to have a crop planted before her landlord evicts them from the property, but has her hands full trying to get her lazy family to work.

  • A traditional Basque custom, thought to prove one's manhood, causes Manola to be shunned by his people for refusing to fight his father.

  • A wild stallion ruins the dreams of two bronco busters who have risked their lives to raise money to build a ranch in Montana.

  • A preacher from back East intends to build a church for the Native Americans, placing Festus in the middle of a dispute when the townspeople protesting the idea.

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