So Long, Matt Dillon! In Your Honor, the First Episode of Gunsmoke

James Arness, Gunsmoke
Fair and honest lawman, Matt Dillon | Glenn Embree

Like many of you, I spent my childhood watching ‘Gunsmoke.’ It was my dad’s favorite show, and as I recall, it aired on Saturday nights. The entire family — my mom and dad and us four kids — would gather around our cabinet-style RCA TV set (it had a record player on one side) and watch Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty do everything BUT get together.

I guess we were supposed to draw our own conclusions on that. I kind of think they did, but it’s not the kind of thing a family talked about back in those days! Instead, we just watched Marshal Dillon right the wrongs of the Wild West, get patched up by Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and trade friendly banter with Chester (Dennis Weaver) and Festus (Ken Curtis). And, of course, protect Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) from all bad things.

James Arness (who was the older brother of Peter Graves) died today at the age of 88. Thanks for a great childhood, Marshal Dillon. In your honor, here’s the very first episode of ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Matt Gets It,’ which aired on Sept. 10, 1955, and was introduced by The Duke himself, John Wayne.


  1. Kerry Dexter Avatar

    we had those days around the tv set watching Marshall Dillon, Miss Kitty, and Doc Adams too. thanks for those times, Mr. Arness. and thanks for this post, Jane.

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      Makes me think about all the other TV shows we watched as a family — Wonderful World of Disney, Mary Tyler Moore, The Waltons, Lost in Space… hmmm, maybe good blog post material…

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