Get outta Dodge — Toasting ‘Gunsmoke,’ TV’s most critically acclaimed Western

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The January 2, 1960, issue of TV Guide unleashes the original “Gunsmoke” cast unguarded backstage. Left to right are James Arness [Marshal Matt Dillon], Amanda Blake [Miss Kitty Russell], Dennis Weaver [trusty sidekick Chester Goode], and Milburn Stone [Doc Adams]. Image Credit: CBS Interactive
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A personally autographed first edition of “James Arness: An Autobiography” published on September 10, 2001. The beautiful watercolor painting depicts Arness’s most well known character, Marshal Matt Dillon from “Gunsmoke.” Image Credit: McFarland & Company / Courtesy of Jeremy Roberts
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Ken Curtis [Deputy Marshal Festus Haggen] pretty much idolizes James Arness [Marshal Matt Dillon] in a cool photo representative of their onscreen relationship in prime time television’s longest-running drama “Gunsmoke,” circa 1967. Image Credit: Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
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Leaning against a beat-up Wild West stagecoach, James Arness sports his trademark salmon-colored shirt, tan vest, and ten-gallon, custom-made Stetson as Marshal Matt Dillon on the CBS set of “Gunsmoke” in Studio City, Calif., 1970. Image Credit: MPTV Images
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Ken Curtis draws his six-gun in character as the non-educated but extremely savvy U.S. Deputy Marshal Festus Haggen on the long-running CBS Western series “Gunsmoke” in 1967. Note the conspicuous rubber tire tracks which weren’t around in the 1870s! Image Credit: CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
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Actress Amanda Blake is captured in glorious color as Long Branch saloon owner Kitty Russell aka Marshal Matt Dillon’s steady girlfriend in a backstage still from “Gunsmoke,” CBS Studio Center, Radford Avenue, Los Angeles, circa 1961. Image Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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Actor Dennis Weaver stands with arms akimbo and laughs uproariously in long underwear and a cowboy hat as unofficial Dodge City deputy Chester Goode while filming one of his all-time favorite ‘Gunsmoke’ episodes, “Chesterland,” on June 8, 1961. Image Credit: CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
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Two good buddies in real life, Dennis Weaver and James Arness, in character as unofficial Dodge City deputy Chester Goode and stoic Marshal Matt Dillon for the July 20, 1963 cover of “TV Guide.” Weaver departed “Gunsmoke” for greener pastures just one year later. Image Credit: TV Guide / CBS Interactive
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James Arness [Marshal Matt Dillon], Milburn Stone [Doc Adams], Amanda Blake [Miss Kitty], Ken Curtis [Festus], and a seated Burt Reynolds [Quint Asper] of “Gunsmoke” face an uncertain future in the aftermath of Dennis Weaver’s [Chester Goode] departure, fall 1964. Image Credit: CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
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Emmy-winning character actor Milburn Stone appears in a rare color still during his 20-year tenure as ‘Gunsmoke’s’ resident cantankerous physician Galen “Doc” Adams, circa 1968. Only Stone and Dennis Weaver received Emmy nods for their definitive portrayals of Dodge City residents. Image Credit: Lucy Media / FanPix
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James Arness [U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon] and Ken Curtis [Deputy Marshal Festus Haggen] are photographed on July 7, 1971, while filming the 17th season of the hit CBS Western “Gunsmoke.” Image Credit: CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
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James Arness [Marshal Matt Dillon] and Amanda Blake [Miss Kitty Russell], one of classic television’s most beloved couples who never even shared a kiss, pose alongside a vintage stagecoach on the “Gunsmoke” set in Studio City, California, 1970. Image Credit: MPTV Images
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Milburn Stone [Galen “Doc” Adams], Glenn Strange [bartender Sam Noonan], Amanda Blake [saloon owner Miss Kitty Russell], James Arness [Marshal Matt Dillon], Ken Curtis [Deputy Festus Haggen], and Buck Taylor [gunsmith Newly O’Brien] depict the final cast lineup of “Gunsmoke,” 1970. Image Credit: CBS Photo Archive
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Best known as Dodge City gunsmith-reserve deputy Newly O’Brien in 174 episodes of the classic CBS television Western “Gunsmoke,” Buck Taylor poses on January 9, 2015, inside DK Studios, Las Vegas, Nevada. The cowboy gentleman and Burt Reynolds are the only two surviving “Gunsmoke” cast members. Photography by Jeff Farrell / Outpost Creative

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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