‘Gunsmoke’: Who Was the First Actor Cast for the Show?

by Keeli Parkey

“Gunsmoke” was a wildly popular show during its many years on television. In addition to the interesting stories it told about life in the American West, it was also popular thanks to the strong cast of actors who appeared on the show.

The cast included actors such as Burt Reynolds, James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Roger Ewing, Dennis Weaver, Ken Curtis, and Buck Taylor. But, do you know which of these actors was the first to be hired to play a role on “Gunsmoke”?

According to an article on MeTV.com, that accolade goes to actor Dennis Weaver. Weaver was cast in the role of Chester Goode. And, according to the article, he won an Emmy for his work on “Gunsmoke” in 1959. Despite this success, Weaver left the show in 1964.

In addition to being an actor, Dennis Weaver also once served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild. In addition to appearing on “Gunsmoke,” the actor was also famous for his role as Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud in the television show “McCloud.”

Another fun fact about Dennis Weaver is that he had a starring role in the very first film legendary director Stephen Spielberg ever made. That film was “Duel” and it was released in 1971. According to information on IMDb.com, the plot of “Duel” is: “A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by the malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.”

“Duel” is a film filled with suspense. It’s certainly worth a watch if you’ve never seen it. The film also demonstrates the skill of the young Spielberg. It’s not a surprise that he went on to be one of the most influential directors of all time.

‘Gunsmoke’ Helped Launch Burt Reynolds’ Successful Acting Career

In addition to famous actors such as Dennis Weaver and others, “Gunsmoke” also gave other actors a chance to shine. One of those actors was Burt Reynolds. In fact, the actor once said that the time he spent working on “Gunsmoke” were some of his “happiest.”

Interestingly, Reynolds joined “Gunsmoke” after Weaver left the show. Reynolds came on board during 1962 and played the new character Quint Asper. He was chosen for the role out of a field of 300 other actors.

It didn’t take long before fans of the western fell in love with Reynolds and his portrayal of Quint Asper. Reynolds and his character first appeared in the episode “Quint Asper Comes Home” on the show. The episode gave Reynolds a chance to play a character bent on revenge.

Reynolds worked on “Gunsmoke” until 1965. From that show, he went on to act in “Hawk” and “Dan August.” His career really took off after he starred as Lewis Medlock in “Deliverance” during 1972.