- 20 Seasons
Gunsmoke was 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. 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.