gun smoke was a television institution for 20 years. The western began as a radio show in the early 1950s before making its debut as a television series. And like any long-running series, there’s always a chance of sparks flying on set. It did gun smoke Stars James Arness and Amanda Blake’s on-screen chemistry leads to real romance after the cameras turn off?
On the show, Arness played US Marshal Matt Dillon and Blake played Kathleen “Kitty” Russell. The two actors were among the few who stayed for most of the run gun smoke, with Blake dropping out just a year before the beloved series ended. Milburn Stone – who played Galen “Doc” Adams – was the other longtime star, with a tenure from 1955 to 1975.
unfortunately, gun smoke did not receive a proper farewell after 20 years on the air. Rather, CBS quietly canceled it without warning or permission to give the show the finale that longtime fans deserved. At least gun smoke lived on many years later in five reunion TV movies, the last in 1994. Arness starred as Matt Dillon in each one.
A common thread running through the show was Dillon and Miss Kitty’s relationship. While Arness and Blake shared a tangible chemistry, the two characters never really got together. From his point of view, Arness thinks it’s a good decision because the show would have taken a different path had they pursued a romance, according to MeTV.
“I think they felt that you couldn’t go very far with that and then you had to change the character and the nature of the show. If Matt and Kitty have an on-screen love affair, then they would have to get married, and then you would have another show there.”
Blake also agrees that a relationship between the two wouldn’t work, but said: “[Kitty would] drifting out of Dodge if it wasn’t for Matt Dillon.” In real life, Blake and Arness also never pursued romance, choosing to keep their relationship professional. If they had, their on-screen momentum might not have lasted either.
In the same interview, Blake revealed that she didn’t generally date in real life either, preferring her life without the distractions of men. However, she was married five times before her death in 1989. Among them were three marriages that – at least in part – overlapped with her time gun smoke. Stone also became her best friend while working on the show.
Arness was married to Virginia Chapman from 1948 to 1960. He then married Janet Surtees in 1978. The couple remained together until Arness died of natural causes in 2011 at the age of 88.