‘Gunsmoke’: Why Milburn Stone Called James Arness ‘The Most Unhypocritical Man’

by Joe Rutland
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Imagine working with a star of the magnitude of James Arness on Gunsmoke. Milburn Stone did and he had no problem with him.

Stone, who played “Doc” Adams on the CBS Western drama, offers some thoughts about Arness. The lead actor played Marshal Matt Dillon on TV from 1955 to 1975.

Let’s see what Stone says according to an article from MeTV.

The article states that Arness’ co-stars just did not mind Arness keeping his personal life as a private matter. Apparently, they were just fine to work with a laid-back star.

“He’s the most unhypocritical man I know,” Stone said. “He’s consistent. He is what he is, lives the way he does, and that’s it.”

Maybe the way Arness just went about his business might have helped Gunsmoke last 20 years on CBS. It also helps that people close to CBS President William Paley liked it, too.

There was a point where Gunsmoke might have ended up on the cancellation heap. What show did some at CBS think about keeping in the primetime lineup? Gilligan’s Island. When word got out that some people were looking at ending the western, well, it didn’t go over too well.

Ultimately, Gunsmoke stayed on CBS, and Gilligan’s Island was canceled.

‘Gunsmoke’ Star Stone Sold His Residual Rights On Show For Large Amount

The stars of Gunsmoke definitely were looking out for their careers during its run. Stone, though, did something that was quite interesting for TV stars to do at that time.

Stone sold all of his residual rights to Gunsmoke back to CBS for $100,000 in 1961.

There has been no specific reason given for Stone to take these actions, according to IMDb. Stone and Arness were the only original cast members to stay for the show’s 20-season run.

Stone did win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama in 1968. This was his lone Emmy for playing Doc. Ironically, Stone never received another nomination throughout his career.

Would you believe, though, that Stone was not the only cast member to do this?

Actress Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty, did the same thing in the same year. She also, in 1961, sold back her rights for $100,000. No reason was given.

Blake left the show in 1974. That’s 19 seasons of playing the bar owner of Dodge City’s saloon.

OK, so running a house of prostitution would not fly in the world of 1950s or 1960s television. Miss Kitty, on the radio version, held that madame role.

Would you believe that there was no actual description during the TV show’s first two seasons about what Miss Kitty did? But she ran the saloon on TV. Go figure.

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