‘Gunsmoke’: Why the Opening Sequence Had to Be Re-Filmed for Airing in the UK

by Joe Rutland
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“Gunsmoke” always opens with a duel between Marshal Matt Dillon and a bad guy. The opening needed to be changed for the United Kingdom.

Why? Well, it wasn’t anything that had to do with the duel itself. When the show first appeared on UK televisions, according to IMDB, it was called “Gun Law.” The opening title sequence needed to be re-filmed. After a period of time, the show took on its “Gunsmoke” name in the UK as well.

Show producers picked comedy writer Dick Vosburgh to step in as a double for “Gunsmoke” star James Arness. Vosburgh had a similar height and build to Arness, so he stepped in as the show re-shot its opening.

The show, obviously, had a national and international audience tuning into see what was happening in Dodge City. The series held down a spot in CBS’s lineup for 20 seasons. Top that with its years on radio and “Gunsmoke” definitely had one successful run as a show.

Today, “Gunsmoke” is on televisions all over the world thanks to syndication. People from London to Lisbon can watch Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Festus, Doc, and the entire crew when it appears on their TV sets.

Actress Turns Down ‘Miss Kitty’ Role On ‘Gunsmoke’

Obviously, fans of “Gunsmoke” are very familiar with actress Amanda Blake playing saloon owner Miss Kitty on the show. Blake, though, was not the producers’ first choice.

Actress Polly Bond first received an offer for the role. According to IMDb, though, she turned down the role due to her marriage to “The Little Rascals” star Tommy Bond in 1953.

Polly Bond also said they offered her too much money. At the time, she just married Bond, who played tough-kid Butch on “The Little Rascals” as a child actor. Now Tommy Bond had left acting and was working in production at a TV station.

Because of this, if Polly Bond took the Miss Kitty role, then she would be earning more than her husband. She thought this financial difference would cause problems for their marriage. Instead, Blake became Miss Kitty for 20 seasons and Polly and Tommy were married for more than 50 years.

‘Miss Kitty’ Occupation Was Just Omitted from TV Show

While Miss Kitty is a topic of conversation, there was a subtle-yet-definite omission from the “Gunsmoke” TV show regarding her work.

On the radio version of “Gunsmoke,” it was understood that Miss Kitty was the madam of a local house of prostitution. CBS executives were a bit skittish, to say the least, around having this mentioned on 1950s TV.

There were hints dropped during the show’s first two seasons on CBS. In the third season, though, show producers changed her job to being a saloon owner in Dodger City.

It stayed that way until the show ended its 20-season run on TV. So when you are watching “Gunsmoke” and hear Miss Kitty going on about running the saloon, just remember she did have another occupation before that one.

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