‘Gunsmoke’: Miss Kitty’s Occupation Was Omitted from TV Show After Hints in Early Seasons

by Joe Rutland
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Many “Gunsmoke” viewers know Miss Kitty as the owner of the town saloon in Dodge City. But that’s quite different from being a madam.

Say what? Yes sir, Miss Kitty Russell, played by actress Amanda Blake on the long-running CBS western, actually fronted a house of prostitution, according to IMDB. That is how her character was described on the “Gunsmoke” radio show, featuring William Conrad as the voice of Marshal Matt Dillon.

Remember, though, when “Gunsmoke” was on TV. Its premiere was in 1955, a time when television executives didn’t want any hint of sexual innuendo on their shows.

What’s kind of funny about this is CBS actually let the show drop hints about Miss Kitty’s true occupation during its first couple of seasons. Now they only skirted the issue of her being a madam.

James Arness, who played Dillon on the “Gunsmoke” TV series, said that show executives dropped those references to make the show more family-friendly. Therefore, Miss Kitty simply became a lady saloon owner.

‘Gunsmoke’ Star Took Over For Frank Sinatra As Singer

Speaking of saloons, did you know that a “Gunsmoke” regular also was a Big Band singer? Wait until you read who this person was and his character on the TV series.

Actor Ken Curtis, best known as “Festus,” would be the vocalist for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the 1940s. This was before he turned his focus on country music.

Music buffs recall a name that comes to mind when mentioning the Dorsey band and the 1940s is Frank Sinatra. As hard as it might be to believe, Curtis would sometimes fill in for Sinatra, who called himself “a saloon singer,” as lead vocalist for Dorsey.

Ken Curtis Would Fill In For Sinatra On Bandstand

Now Sinatra, “The Chairman of the Board” himself, was becoming a very big star in the 1940s. He would find his way toward performing individual concerts and hosting or guest-starring on major radio shows. His stature grew and it would sometimes take him away from his Dorsey band duties.

That’s where Curtis comes into the picture. He would fill in for Sinatra by taking over the microphone. Curtis started doing this upon returning from serving the country in World War II.

From this place, Curtis found himself getting film roles. He eventually caught producers’ eyes looking for actors to play roles on “Gunsmoke.” One thing led to another and the one-time Big Band crooner found fame and fortune on the small screen forever.

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