• WARNING: Spoilers

    Gunsmoke was TV's number one-ranked show from 1957 to 1961 that depicted the dramatization of the American epic legend of the wild west.

    In 1955 the television series started and created 635 episodes and ran for 20 seasons to 1975. (1955-61 half-hour, 1961-66 one-hour black-and-white and 1966-75 one-hour color episodes). Gunsmoke is the longest-running, prime-time, live action series with the highest number of scripted episodes for any U.S. prime-time of the 20th century. The character buildup, representation and episode dramatic stories are why this television series not only has endured the original 20 seasons run, but is still popular in syndication today.

    The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon. Most of the story synopsis revolving around small town folks and their dealings with the law good and bad.

    Notable casting was Chester and Festus Haggen were acting deputies Quint Asper (Burt Reynolds) (1962-65), Thad Greenwood (Roger Ewing) (1966-68), and Newly O'Brien (Buck Taylor) (1967-75), who a gun smith by trade was back-up deputy and doctor intern, assisting Doc Adams in many episodes.

    Matt Dillon was played on radio by William Conrad on Radio and on TV by James Arness. Spending his his early years in foster care, knew the Bible, was a wayward, brawling cowboy, and was later mentored by a caring lawman. Dillion one large (6 foot, 7 inches), steadfast, honest, incorruptible, and dedicated United States Marshall to the cause of bringing genuine law and order. Always ready to deal quickly with an iron fist and gun to remedy the behaviors of the outlaws he would come across. Dillions overall character was less inclined to use violence to subdue wrongdoers but never hesitated to do so when the situation warranted. Perhaps the best measure of Matt Dillon's endurance and physical prowess is how he survived the dozens of gunshot wounds and other assaults during the shows 20 season run.

    Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake) had considerable measure of respectability in Dodge City by owning and managing the thriving Long Branch Saloon. She and Matt Dillion had a relationship but was deliberately kept somewhat vague frequently dining and socializing with Kitty and never any interest in other woman. Kitty's job brings her into daily contact with many of the shows characters in almost every episode.

    Chester was played by Dennis Weaver 6'2", and his character is officially the deputy", though they both Dillion and Chester that he acts like he is.Has a limp from when he was injured in the Civil War. In 1963, Weaver left the series to pursue a broader acting career in TV series and films.

    Doc Adams is an interesting older character with allot of varied experience. In an episode that aired January 31, 1953, "Cavalcade", his real name is Calvin Moore, educated in Boston, and he practiced as a doctor for a year in Richmond, Virginia, where he fell in love with a beautiful young woman, who being followed by another suitor Roger Beauregard. Beauregard and Doc fight in a duel where he is shot and killed by Doc fairly, but as a Yankee outsider, he is forced to flee. The woman chases after him and they are married in St. Louis, but two months later she dies of typhus. Doc settles in Dodge City 17 years later under the name of "Charles Adams". This character Doc is a a caring old country doctor and his episode presence always seem to reflect this as well as having a slight crotchety persona as well.

    In 1962, Burt Reynolds was added to the show and was the "halfbreed" blacksmith Quint Asper. Quint Asper's white father was killed by white scavengers.

    Ken Curtis first appeared in the 1959 episode "Jayhawkers," In 1964, Curtis was signed as regular cast and plays the stubbornly illiterate hillbilly Festus Haggen. The interaction between Festus and Doc are laughable and the relationship between the two over the episodes they share are a joy to watch. - Martin Snytsheuvel