1955: 'Gunsmoke' Starts Blazing its Long TV Trail
On this day in 1955, one of television's best-known and longest-running dramas, Gunsmoke, made its debut on CBS. Adapted from the same-name radio show starring William Conrad, the Western revolved around Marshal Matt Dillion, the lawman charged with preserving law and order in Dodge City, Kansas.
TV's Matt Dillion was played by actor James Arness, who remained with the show for its entire 20-year run. Amanda Blake starred as Miss Kitty Russell. Dennis Weaver played Chester Goode, Milburn Stone was "Doc" Adams.
Big screen gunslinger John Wayne introduced the show's premiere episode, saying, in part: "I've made a lot of pictures [in Hollywood], all kinds, and some of them have been Westerns. And that's what I'm here to tell you about tonight: a Western—a new TV show called Gunsmoke. No, I'm not in it. I wish I were, though, because I think it's the best thing of its kind that's come along, and I hope you'll agree with me; it's honest, it's adult, it's realistic. ... And now I'm proud to present my friend Jim Arness in Gunsmoke."