When the last episode of “Gunsmoke” aired, the popular Western had been on television for 20 seasons. It had numerous loyal fans who were undoubtedly upset about its cancelation. There was also one very furious actress. That actress was “Miss Kitty Russell” herself, Amanda Blake. However, she actually left the show after Season 19.
Today, most long-running shows – be they comedies or dramas – let fans know well in advance when the final episode will air. Nowadays fans get time to do what fans today do. They obsess over small details or binge the entire series or search for spoilers to what could happen.
So, what happened to the famous program “Gunsmoke”? According to an article on MeTV.com, it was never announced that the 20th season of “Gunsmoke” would be the show’s last. Instead, the final episode – which was the 635th of its run – aired and that was it. The show did not come back for its 21st season on CBS.
To make matters worse, the final episode of “Gunsmoke” did not wrap up the series in any way. Fans didn’t get to express their love for the show. And, the characters’ storylines were left opened ended. According to the article, the final episode was titled “The Sharecroppers.”
The article describes the episode as “lighthearted.” It followed the character of Festus, who was played by Ken Curtis. It wasn’t exactly what fans of “Gunsmoke” and U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon wanted.
Cast Was Surprised About the Cancelation of ‘Gunsmoke’ in 1975
According to the book, “The Gunsmoke Chronicles: A New History of Television’s Greatest Western by David R. Greenland, the cast and crew of “Gunsmoke” were pretty shocked to find out that the show had been canceled.
The Associated Press shared the news about the cancelation of “Gunsmoke” on April 30, 1975. According to Greenland’s book, the report said: CBS has done something Indians, bad guys, bad whisky and not even CBS could do earlier: Kill off U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon. The move will put actor James Arness, for 20 years the hero of the long-running ‘Gunsmoke’ TV western, on the unemployment rolls. A few years ago CBS tried to remove the show but was met by such audience protests that the network had to renew the series.”
The book also reports that Arness and other actors wanted to work on “Gunsmoke” for one more season at least.
Actress Amanda Blake was Furious After Show Was Canceled
One of the most passionate responses to the cancelation of “Gunsmoke” came from actress Amanda Blake. She played Miss Kitty Russell on the show.
According to Greenland’s book, Blake was ready to show the executives of CBS exactly how she felt. Once while traveling by the network’s offices in New York City, she said: “I think I’ll go in there and hit Bill Paley over the head with a brickbat.” Paley was an executive at CBS.