Gunsmoke – From Radio to Television

By | Sep 10, 2011

It was on September 10, 1955 that the radio show Gunsmoke began its television run. The Radio series voiced by William Conrad as Marshall Matt Dillion began on April 26, 1952 and would remain on CBS radio until June 18, 1961. From the TV premier until the last radio broadcast the program would be on both radio and television with different casts.

William Conrad had been considered to appear as Matt Dillion in the Television series, but it was determined that he was too heavy for the role on TV. The role was filled by James Arness.

When the show began it was a 1/2 hour show playing on Saturday Night from 10:00-10:30. Beginning in September 1961 the show would expand to an hour. There were 233 – 30 minute episodes and 402 – 60 minute.

The show was nearly canceled in 1967 due to low ratings. CBS president William Paley, he and his wife were big fans of the show, reversed the decision. He moved the show from Saturdays to Mondays and canceled Gilligan’s Island instead. The show would remain on the CBS schedule until 1975 lasting 20 seasons.

The only two characters that were on the series for its full run of 21 seasons was Matt Dillon played by James Arness and Doc played by Milburn Stone. Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty decided not to return for the last season.

Gunsmoke currently holds the record for the longest scripted Prime Time TV series along with NBC’s Law and Order. 60 minutes, a news program is the longest Prime Time show beginning in 1968 and still part of CBS’s Sunday lineup. The Simpson is the longest scripted comedy show and will be entering its 22th season in 2010.


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