Some fans just can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. Take poor actor Morgan Woodward for instance, who guest-starred on “Gunsmoke.”
Woodward often played the bad guy, especially in westerns. The late actor made a career playing characters that audiences loved to hate. But sometimes some of that hate bled into Woodward’s real life, leading to some strange altercations. Random women often screamed at Woodward in the street when he was in town.
Why did they hate Woodward? Well, his character killed Paul Newman’s character in the film “Cool Hand Luke.”
“Maybe I’m a nice guy in real life because I’ve had my spleen on the screen,” Woodward said in a 1969 Newsweek article, according to MeTV. A woman took it personally and called out the actor when she saw him. Despite just being an actor, the woman labeled Woodward a real-life villain.
But being evil or at least playing it had its perks as well. According to the 1969 article, Woodward was one of TV’s “Dirty Half-Dozen” for instance. These actors made a living playing some of entertainment’s vilest villains and bandits. And it worked out in their favor as well. All six of the actors including Woodward had a $100,000 to $200,000 salary a year for a time.
“You won’t find many men who look like me,” Woodward continued. “Fortunately, there aren’t too many of us around.”
Morgan Woodward on ‘Gunsmoke’
In fact, Woodward ended up appearing on “Gunsmoke” 19 times and later appeared in the final made-for-tv movie as well. Woodward was always a different character when he appeared on the show. Most often, he played the villain, butting heads with Matt Dillon. Woodward made a living playing the heel or bad guy on the show.
Others who shared the title were Jack Elam, Simon Oakland, Victor French, Warren Stevens, and Gerald O’Loughlin. They all appeared on the western as well, facing off against Dillon and his gang. But Woodward was a repeat offender.
Unfortunately, actors like Victor French couldn’t find work as a hero. His daughter once asked him, “Why don’t you be good sometimes?” His reply? “Because I’m not very pretty, darling.”
But in real life, Woodward didn’t deserve the scorn that his characters garnered. The actor spent his free time away from sets, working on and flying antique airplanes. He very much enjoyed taking to the skies where the only villains were rain clouds.
But Woodward didn’t always play the villains on “Gunsmoke” though. In the episode “Luke,” Woodward played the character of Luke Dangerfield. It gave him the chance to play the anti-hero for once, a character reckoning with his dark past. The actor stretched his legs a bit and turned in a memorable performance. Too bad fans associated him with his villainous portrayals.