‘Gunsmoke’: Several Guest Stars Went on to Become Leads in Other Westerns

by Michael Freeman
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To this day Gunsmoke retains its title as one of the most influential westerns on television. In addition to its impact on the genre, it also helped open the door for many actors who guest-starred on the show. As it turns out, many of those who first appeared on the western went on to become leads in their own westerns.

MeTV pointed out ten actors you might recognize on Gunsmoke because they went on to have their own shows later on. One of the biggest examples is Dan Blocker or Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza. Though he played small roles in two Gunsmoke episodes, he was a main character on Bonanza.

While Bonanza is being discussed, Pernell Roberts falls into the same category. Serving as Adam Cartwright on Bonanza, he appeared in several Gunsmoke episodes before and after his tenure on the Ponderosa. Likewise, Peter Breck and Lee Majors both went on to star in The Big Valley after guest-starring on Gunsmoke.

Remember Jack Kelly from Maverick? If the Gunsmoke episode titled “Jealousy” ever plays, it might jog your memory. Even the iconic Lucas McCain from The Rifleman made an appearance, albeit in a villainous role. James Drury also appeared before starring in The Virginian.

If you’re a fan of Little House on the Prairie, you may remember Melissa Gilbert too. She played the daughter of a mean drunk on Gunsmoke and went on to become the star of her own show. Finally, Ross Martin and Leif Erickson both acted on the show, with the former actually appearing in two episodes.

‘Gunsmoke’ Star James Arness’ Co-Star Describes him as a Private Person

Marshall Matt Dillon was a hero in Gunsmoke many looked up to. It may surprise you to learn in real life, he was actually quite private.

MeTV recently shared Arness’ personal life remained a mystery, which is something he enjoyed. Described as “one of the most private men in Hollywood,” he wasn’t frequently seen in public. For instance, he liked to sail and ski, plus his vacation home was in Hawaii.

Amanda Blake or Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, talked about him, saying the two weren’t really close, but she enjoyed working with him. She also confirmed his love of privacy. “Jim is the mystery man. Like most men, he’s an overgrown 12-year-old. He’s delightful, charming, one of the funniest men I’ve ever known. I really don’t know much about him, because he’s a private person. But he’s fun to work with.”

Fellow actor Ken Curtis agrees with Blake, mentioning he didn’t change over the 10 years he was on the western. Furthermore, the man’s charisma is what drove the show. “I’ve seen many shows go down the drain because the star becomes impossible and disliked by everyone. He’s terrific to work with. When the time comes to buckle down to work, he’s ready.”

Outsider.com