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1955: 'Gunsmoke' Starts Blazing Its Long TV Trail
September 10, 2017  | By TV WW  | 1 comment
 
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."
 
 
 
 
 
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Patrick
"Gunsmoke" aired 635 episodes in those 20 years. 233 were 30 minutes in length, the rest were 60 minutes. "Law & Order" ran for 20 years as well, with 456 episodes; that series would have had to run eight more years to equal "Gunsmoke" in the episode count.
Sep 10, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now available in paperback for under $15. Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points... Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

This Day in TV History