Gunsmoke (aka Gunlaw)

1956 | United States

The longest running Western series on television (originally transmitted in the UK as Gun Law), starring James Arness, (brother of Peter Mission Impossible Graves), as US Marshall Matt Dillon. John Wayne was the first choice of lead actor, and although he turned down the part he did introduce the first episode. 

Set in Dodge City in 1873, the other principal characters were Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), Doc Adams (Milburn Stone) and limping deputy Chester (Dennis Weaver, later to star as TV detective McCloud). Burt Reynolds appeared for a while as blacksmith Quint Asper and when Chester left in 1964 he was replaced by Festus Hagen (Ken Curtis). 

Arness wore the Marshall's badge until he finally rode off into the sunset at the end of the second of two TV movies; -Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge and Gunsmoke: The Last Apache- made in the late 1980's.

Published on December 19th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.