Gunsmoke was an American Western drama series which originated as a popular radio program; the original radio series aired from 1952 to 1961, and the live action series followed starting in 1955 to 1975. Gunsmoke is considered by both critics and fans to be the best Western television series in the history of the medium, and perhaps even the best dramatization of life in the American West. How well do you know this very popular Western series? The following are some particularly fascinating facts about Gunsmoke.
It holds a prime time record
Gunsmoke ran for a total of 20 seasons and had a total of 635 episodes by the time it finished in 1975. This makes Gunsmoke the record holder for the longest prime time live action drama in the United States.
The radio program and TV series have some differences
There are many differences between the radio series and the TV adaptation. For example: In the early years of the radio program, Doc was a borderline alcoholic with an acid tongue who was once charged with a suspected murder. In the TV version, however, Doc could be unpleasant–but he was not cruel, alcoholic, or a potential murderer.
Another notable example can be found in the character of Chester Goode. In the television series, Chester Goode is physically disabled; but the radio program gives no indication that Goode has a physical disability. The disability was added to the TV show to give a visual indication that Chester was a “follower, not a leader.”
James Arness’ physical scenes needed to be done in the morning
This injury made it painful and difficult for him to walk for extended periods of time. Any scenes in Gunsmoke where Arness’s character had to walk for an extensive period of time needed to be done in the morning, before his physical injury became too painful.
The show caused the cancellation of Gilligan’s Island
In 1967, Gunsmoke was slated to be pulled from the air due to declining ratings. However, the president of the network decided to move the show from its Saturday time slot to Monday. The ratings jumped high enough for the show to be ranked in the Top Ten of the Nielsen Ratings–however, the time slot change caused Gilligan’s Island, which aired on Mondays, to be cancelled instead. Click here for other entertainment opportunities.