Monday, December 9, 2013

Dennis the Menace (1960)

In an interview included in the Season 1 DVD release of Dennis the Menace, radio show host and TV historian Stu Shostak asked actress Gloria Henry whether the show on which she played Dennis' mother was the CBS network's attempt to make up for abandoning Leave It to Beaver after one season and allowing the program to move over to ABC, where it ran for another five years. Henry replies to the question that she supposes that could have been true, and other online sources suggest that it was, but Henry treats the idea as mere conjecture. Still, Dennis the Menace was indeed another family-based situation comedy depicting the often troublesome antics of a little boy who innocently doesn't understand how things work in the adult world. The differences between the two shows, of course, are more striking than the similarities. Dennis was based on the popular comic strip created by Hank Ketcham, who according to Henry had considerable input on the TV show, whereas Beaver was based on the real-life experiences of creators Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher's sons. Dennis is an only child; Beaver has an older brother Wally. Dennis is tormented by little girl Margaret Wade, who is forever trying to get him to play house and hold her doll; Beaver is teased and tricked by Eddie Haskell, Wally's two-faced friend. But most important is that the plots on Dennis largely revolve around a single theme--how Dennis ruins something for his neighbor and self-avowed best friend Mr. George Wilson, whereas the plots on Beaver are much more varied--some involving lessons learned by Beaver, some by Wally, and even some by Beaver's parents June and Ward Cleaver.

Though Beaver is today often thought of as the stereotypical naive and idealized 1950s era sitcom, the characters are not one-dimensional, but on Dennis they mostly are--Dennis is a single-minded boy who doesn't realize how his good intentions, whether trying to help Mr. Wilson or his parents, or trying to get something he wants, can create havoc for others. Mr. Wilson always suspects that Dennis will ruin something (which is often borne out) and is often foiled by his own greed or overweening sense of self-importance. Dennis' parents Henry and Alice Mitchell are mere foils for his antics, rarely having any depth beyond trying to stop him. The acting for all of these roles is also nearly always overplayed. Wilson's scowls and utterances of "Great Scott!" are just as overwrought as Henry and Alice Mitchell's wide-eyed and open-mouthed shock at nearly everything Dennis does. In fact, the overdone acting and laugh track included with each episode make the show more like a contemporary sitcom, whereas Beaver succeeds with more subtle humor that evolves out of more true-to-life situations and wry dialogue that doesn't sound like a telegraphed punchline.

But Dennis the Menace was an almost instant hit, earning a glowing review in the February 20, 1960 issue of TV Guide, in which Bob Stahl remarked, "Many of the scripts telegraph their endings but they're still entertaining." The show also scored in the top 20 of the Nielsen ratings the first three of its four seasons. And Stahl, is right--many of the episodes are entertaining, despite the exaggerated main characters, because many episodes are bolstered by the strong, large supporting cast of recurring characters, much like Beaver's cast of supporting characters like Eddie Haskell, Fred and Lumpy Rutherford, Larry Mondello, etc. On Dennis many of the best supporting characters are female, beginning with George Wilson's long-suffering wife Martha, played by Sylvia Field, who is alternately cheerfully supportive when Wilson repeatedly shoots himself in the foot, or sternly ashamed when he tricks or exploits good-hearted Dennis. For example, in "The Rock Collection" (November 13, 1960) she scolds George after he first tries to get rid of Dennis by saying he will give $1 to the boy who collects the most different kinds of rocks in a week and later suggests to Dennis that he can probably find all kinds of rocks in a run-down empty lot he is trying to sell, thereby getting Dennis to clean up his shabby property. And in "Dennis Creates a Hero" (March 20, 1960) she shames George into donning a bearskin rug and pretending to bite Dennis' friend Tommy on the foot so that Dennis can stage a photo of his father coming to Tommy's rescue to print in the local newspaper. Of course, Henry and Alice are not in on the gag and George ends up getting hit over the head with a flower pot for his trouble. However, Martha is always ready to serve George some of his self-concocted "nerve medicine" (which he tells nursery owner Merrivale he mixes himself from an old Indian recipe in "Dennis and the Bees" [April 17, 1960]) whenever he is overcome with exasperation.

Dennis' tormentor Margaret Wade, the impossibly curly haired little girl who envisions marrying Dennis one day, tries to round him into shape by frequently bargaining with him to force him to play house or hold her doll. In "Dennis and the Bike" (January 24, 1960) Margaret agrees to give Dennis her bike if he agrees to get engaged to her; his parents quickly send him back to her house with the bike when they hear the terms of the deal. In "Dennis and the Swing" (February 21, 1960) Dennis has to agree to come over and play house in three days if he wants to take any lumber scraps from Mr. Wade's woodpile. In "Henry and Togetherness" (November 20, 1960), Dennis has to agree to go over to Margaret's and play house in exchange for her chewed bubblegum, which he needs to plug a hole in his fish aquarium. And in "The Christmas Horse" (December 25, 1960), Margaret has finally had enough and confides to Alice that she is breaking off their engagement because she just can't live like this anymore and she would return the engagement ring, only Dennis never gave her one. Later in the episode, Dennis recognizes that her breakup note is typed on a typewriter, which he needs to trade for a pony that another boy received for Christmas. Dennis is so intent on acquiring the horse that he is even willing to make up with Margaret in order to get the typewriter. Throughout all her encounters with Dennis, Margaret's serious, superlative, and bossy tone and demeanor are pure comedic gold. The fact that Jeannie Russell gave these performances without benefit of rehearsing with the other actors, as she revealed in the 2010 Shostak interview, makes the performances all the more impressive.

Another stellar character is man-hunting spinster Miss Cathcart, played brilliantly by the great character actress Mary Wickes. Like the squirrel-crazy canine Dug in the 2009 animated film Up, Miss Cathcart's attention is easily diverted at the mere suggestion that an employed bachelor is nearby. In "Dennis and the Starlings" (May 8, 1960), Miss Cathcart has her sights set on the postman Mr. Dorfman, whom she waits for behind a post on her porch, springing out when he tiptoes up to deliver her mail, and whisking him into her parlor for tea, flirtation, and her ear-shattering singing, which proves a most effective repellant in driving off flocks of starlings bothering Mr. Wilson. In "Miss Cathcart's Sunsuit" (June 12, 1960) she turns her attention to landscape gardener Mr. Carlson, who drops by and offers to clean up her yard but she takes it as a proposal for marriage, as does Dennis, who repeats the miscommunication to Mr. Dorfman, who as a lodge brother of Carlson feels compelled to break up their supposed tryst since Carlson is already married. Miss Cathcart also makes an appearance in "Dennis and the Wedding" (October 9, 1960), though here she is only lending her overpowering singing voice to a wedding held in the Wilson's home, shattering a bottle of pestilent poison in the basement during the rehearsal and driving everyone outside. Wickes steals every scene in which she appears; it's unfortunate she appeared in only a handful of episodes.

Also sadly underexposed is Irene Tedrow's portrayal of Mrs. Elkins, a neighbor who sees right through Wilson's machinations. Though she often is mere window dressing in most of the episodes in which she appears, she if fully capable of delivering a comic punch, as she does in "Dennis and the Ham-Pher" (October 23, 1960) when Mr. Wilson thinks he has trapped a pesky gopher in Dennis' box-propped-up-by-a-stick trap, denies having seen Mrs. Elkins' cat when she comes walking down the street looking for it, then is mortified to hear meows coming from inside the box trap. Elkins not only snootily sweeps up her rescued pet but promises to tell all her friends what a contemptible human being Wilson is. She always seems to catch Wilson at his worst and has the perfectly withering glance to sink him even deeper.

Though Dennis the Menace had a lot going for it and scored high ratings for three years, like Leave It to Beaver it was fated to be a short-lived success because the age of its star was central to its appeal. And like Beaver's Jerry Mathers, Jay North eventually grew too old to credibly play the title character. The show was also dealt a severe blow when Joseph Kearns, who so capably embodied sourpuss George Wilson, died from a stroke during season 3. The show's producers tried replacing him with Gale Gordon as Wilson's brother John at the end of the third and throughout the fourth season. Martha Wilson was discarded at the end of season 3 with the explanation that she and George had gone on a long trip, and Sara Seegar as Louise Wilson, John's wife, was added to the cast. Unlike when My Three Sons replaced the ill William Frawley with William Demarest and kept right on ticking for another seven seasons, the character transition on Dennis had a negative impact on its ratings, as the show tumbled out of the top 30 for the first time in its history and was canceled. North was relieved, as his turn in the spotlight was not a happy one, as documented in his biography below. But his brief stint as a TV star secured his financial future and put a lot of smiles on viewers' faces.

The theme for Dennis the Menace was composed by William Loose who worked for John Seely, the head of Capitol Records' music library service since the mid 1950s. Loose had risen from being the arranger for an Omaha, NE radio station to leading the U.S. Army Air Forces Orchestra during World War II. During his stint at Capitol, he was also a prolific composer of music and cues for many TV shows, including The Gumby Show, Sheriff of Cochise, The Donna Reed Show, Trackdown, The  Huckleberry Hound Show, Tate, The Texan, The Lawless Years, and Naked City as well as many Loony Tunes cartoons. He also later in the 1960s composed for shows such as Tarzan, The Hollywood Squares, and The Doris Day Show. He died from a heart attack at the age of 80 on February 22, 1991; however, some of his cues were resurrected for The Ren and Stimpy Show in the 1990s. 

All four seasons have been released on DVD by Shout! Factory.

The Actors

Jay North

Jay Waverly North was born in Hollywood, an only child whose alcoholic father separated from his mother when Jay was four and never saw his son again. Now a single mother with a child to support, Jay's mother went to work as the secretary to the West Coast director of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Her insider connections got Jay an appearance on his favorite TV show, Cartoon Express, at age 6, where he was spotted by a talent agent who got his mother's approval to represent him. After a few sporadic appearances on late 1950s shows such as The George Gobel Show, The Eddie Fisher Show, The Milton Berle Show, and a memorable performance on Wanted: Dead or Alive in which his character paid Steve McQueen's Josh Randall 8 cents to find Santa Claus, North auditioned for the part of Dennis the Menace but did poorly on his first try. His agent persuaded the studio to give him another try, and though it took roughly a year before he heard the results, he was cast in the lead role of the new sitcom. North made clear in interviews many years later that his mother never took any of his earnings for herself while he was playing Dennis. She continued to work as a secretary to earn her own keep and entrusted Dennis to an aunt and uncle who secretly physically and verbally abused him when they felt he had not performed up to their standards. They also restricted his playtime with other children and were lax with his mandatory 3 hours of schooling required for all child actors at the time. North never spoke out about the abuse until many years later, believing, as most children did in that era, that he must obey his elders. North was also not a natural blonde and had to endure what he later called a torturous hair dye job every other week during the show's run. Thus, when the show was finally canceled after four season, North considered it good riddance.

But since he had received little real schooling while on the show, North found the transition to traditional education difficult, and he continued trying to find more acting roles during his teen and early adult years, though he was burdened by the huge Dennis shadow and found that producers were often unable to see him in any other kind of role. However, in 1966 he landed the lead role in a jungle-based feature film drama Maya, which was set in India. The following year, the story was made into a TV series with North reprising his role as Terry Bowen. Though the show lasted for only a single season, North later said that he was proud of his work on the show. He also continued occasional appearances on other TV shows such as My Three Sons and The Lucy Show. However, after Maya was canceled, North found work as a voice actor on animated shows such as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and as the voice of the teenaged Bamm-Bamm on The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show. His starring role as a young man who has an affair with an older woman in 1974's The Teacher earned him some positive reviews as well as negative publicity by those who found the R-rated film lurid. North left the acting world and joined the Navy at age 26, accepting the lowest rank in the service, but soon asked to be released from his commitment after being mistreated by his colleagues and superiors because of his past as a child actor. He returned to minor acting roles for a while but also joined Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show in the child-actor advocacy organization A Minor Consideration to hopefully help other young actors avoid the abuses he suffered as a child. Today North lives off the earnings his mother wisely invested from his years on Dennis the Menace and makes appearances at TV memorabilia shows, living with his third wife Cynthia Hackney and her three children from a previous marriage in Lake Butler, Florida.

Joseph Kearns

Joseph Sherrard Kearns was born Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother was an accomplished concert pianist, and Kearns himself would later become a theatrical pipe organist and had his home in Hollywood designed around a theatre-sized Wurlitzer pipe organ. He appeared as a child in a local vaudeville troupe and supported himself through college at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City by teaching a course in theatrical make-up. Thereafter he had a successful radio acting career beginning in the 1930s, with regular spots as the host of Suspense, on the children's show The Cinnamon Bear, and as Jack Benny's money vault security guard Ed on The Jack Benny Program (a role he reprised on TV). He moved into film acting in the late 1940s, and though he had far more TV appearances than in feature films, his credits included roles in Hard, Fast and Beautiful, as the voice of the doorknob in Disney's Alice in Wonderland, and as crime photographer Lloyd Burke in Anatomy of a Murder. On television he played Superintendant Edgar T. Stone on Our Miss Brooks and August P. Tobey on How to Marry a Millionaire as well as multiple guest appearances on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Gunsmoke before landing the role of George Wilson on Dennis the Menace.

As mentioned above, Kearns died from a stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage, at age 55 on February 19, 1962. In the Stu Shostak 2010 interview also cited previously, Gloria Henry mentioned that roughly six weeks before that Wilson had decided he needed to lose weight in order to properly look like the TV star he had become, so he went on a Metracal diet, consuming nothing but the weight-reducing shakes at each meal during the six week period and losing a considerable amount of weight. Whether this led to his death has not been medically proven, but Henry seemed to indicate that it was a significant consideration.

Gloria Henry

Born Gloria McEniry in New Orleans, Henry moved to Los Angeles in her late teens and found work in commercials and on radio shows before being signed by an agent and beginning film work in the late 1940s for Columbia Pictures. Her credits included Sport of Kings, Johnny Allegro, and Rancho Notorious, and in 1952 she landed the role of Michelle Malone on the TV series The Files of Jeffrey Jones. Through the rest of the 1950s the TV appearances and film roles were more sparse, though she did appear on the very first episode of Perry Mason in 1957. Being cast as Dennis the Menace's mother Alice Mitchell proved to be the role of her career, but after the show's cancellation, she, like Jay North, had difficulty finding other roles.

After a 1965 appearance on the show The Farmer's Daughter, Henry had an 18-year gap in acting roles but returned in the 1980s with the occasional appearance on shows like Simon & Simon, Newhart, Mr. Belvedere, and Dallas. Though her acting career virtually ended in 1992, she has since appeared in the 2005 feature film Her Minor Thing and a 2012 episode of Parks and Recreation. Today she makes occasional appearances at film festivals and conventions.

Herbert Anderson

If ever an actor were cast in a role solely on looks, it would be Herbert Anderson, who perfectly reflected the cartoon version of Dennis the Menace's father Henry Mitchell. Anderson was born in Oakland and broke into films with Warner Brothers in 1939. His first big role came in the 1941 Martha Raye-Ann Sheridan comedy Navy Blues, and he parlayed that success into a plethora of roles in movies such as Dive Bomber, The Male Animal, Give My Regards to Broadway, Excuse My Dust, The Caine Mutiny, The Benny Goodman Story, and My Man Godfrey. In 1957 he began making occasional TV appearances on shows like The Real McCoys, Perry Mason, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents before landing his career role as Henry Mitchell.

After Dennis was canceled, Anderson continued to find work on television, including multiple appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman, and Dragnet, continuing into the 1970s on Ironside, The Rookies, and The Waltons. He officially retired from acting in 1982 after undergoing heart surgery and moved to Palm Springs, California in 1985, where he died at age 77 on June 11, 1994, two months after suffering a stroke.

Sylvia Field

Harriet Louisa Johnson was born in Allston, MA in 1901 and began her acting career as a teenager on Broadway in 1918. Her first film role came in the short Home Girl in 1928, and though he appeared in five more films the next year, including The Exalted Flapper, she made no films during the 1930s, a period that coincided with her marriage to her second husband Harold LeRoy Moffett, who died in 1938. She married screen actor Ernest Truex in 1941, and her screen career resumed that year. She began appearing on television, mostly on drama anthology series, in 1948. She starred as Mrs. Remington on her husband's show Mister Peepers from 1952-55. She later played Aunt Lila on the Disney TV serial Annette, starring Annette Funicello, before being cast as Martha Wilson in 1959. Truex appeared in the final 1960 episode of Dennis, playing Christmas tree salesman Mr. McGuire in "The Christmas Horse" (December 25, 1960).

Her career after Dennis was brief, including single appearances on shows like Lassie, Hazel, and Petticoat Junction, with her final role in 1975 on the David Janssen crime drama Harry O. After Truex died in 1973, Field continued to live in their home in Fallbrook, California, occupying herself with fishing, golfing, and tending her avocado orchard. She died of natural causes at age 97 on July 31, 1998.

Billy Booth

William Allen Booth was born in Los Angeles in 1949 and made his film debut in the 1957 feature The Snow Queen. Reportedly recommended for the part of Dennis' best friend Tommy Anderson by Jay North himself, Booth appeared in 111 of the show's 146 episodes. His work on the show led to occasional appearances on other shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Lawman, and for a few years after Dennis' cancellation, he appeared on The Donna Reed Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and My Three Sons.

He left acting when he went to college and eventually became a lawyer with a practice based in Morro Bay, California. He also taught business law at Cuesta College and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He died from liver complications at the age of 54 on December 31, 2006.

Jeannie Russell

Jeanne K. Russell was born in Pasco, Washington, and like Billy Booth she was recommended for the role of Dennis' nemesis Margaret Wade by Jay North. Besides her 38 appearances on Dennis the Menace, Russell's filmography is relatively short--single appearances on The Deputy, Assignment: Underwater, and Death Valley Days and an uncredited appearance in Hitchcock's The Birds. She also appears as a singer's voice in the Disney feature Babes in Toyland and has performed as a singer after Dennis, though her primary profession today is as a chiropractor in North Hollywood. She has also developed a program of exercises for improving posture and building strength, based in part on her training in show business, ballet, and jazz dance. She also co-chaired the Screen Actors Guild Young Performers' Committee and remains in contact with Jay North to this day.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 13, "Dennis Haunts a House": Ron Howard (shown on the left, played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Bob Smith on The Smith Family, Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and the narrator on Arrested Development) plays Dennis' friend Stewart. Maudie Prickett (Cassie Murphy on Date With the Angels, Miss Gordon on The Jack Benny Program, and Rosie on Hazel) plays fortune teller Madame Tina. 

Season 1, Episode 14, "Dennis and the Tree House": Byron Foulger (Mr. Nash on Captain Nice and Wendell Gibbs on Petticoat Junction) plays birdwatcher Mr. Timberlake. 

Season 1, Episode 15, "Dennis and the Rare Coin": Michael Fox (shown on the right, played Coroner George McLeod on Burke's Law, Amos Fedders on Falcon Crest, Saul Feinberg on The Bold and the Beautiful, and appeared 25 times as autopsy surgeons and various other medical witnesses on Perry Mason) plays coin dealer Mr. Hathaway. George Cisar (Cyrus Tankersley on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.) plays police Sgt. Mooney. 

Season 1, Episode 16, "Dennis and the Bike": Ralph Sanford (Mayor Jim Kelley on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays an unnamed man in the park. 

Season 1, Episode 17, "Dennis and the Open House": Dub Taylor (starred in You Can't Take It With You, Bonnie & Clyde, and The Wild Bunch, played Cannonball in 53 western films, and played Wallie Simms on Casey Jones, Mitch Brady on Hazel, and Ed Hewley on Please Don't Eat the Daisies) plays house hunter Opie Swanson. Grandon Rhodes (Mr. Vanderlip on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Dr. Stevens on Lassie, Dr. J.P. Martin on Bonanza, and the judge 16 times on Perry Mason) plays Henry's business prospect Mr. Purdy. Marjorie Bennett (Birdie Brockaway on Lassie, Mrs. Neimayer on The Bob Cummings Show, and Mrs. Kenny on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays an uninvited guest.

Season 1, Episode 19, "Dennis and the Swing": George Cisar (shown on the right, see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 1, Episode 20, "Dennis and the Dog": Charles Watts (Judge Blandon on Bachelor Father) plays pompous painter Ballard Fillmore. Byron Foulger (see "Dennis and the Tree House" above) returns as Mr. Timberlake. 

Season 1, Episode 21, "Mr. Wilson's Sister": Mary Adams (Lavinia Webster on Window on Main Street) plays Wilson's sister Helen Forbes. 

Season 1, Episode 22, "Dennis and the TV Set": Dub Taylor (see "Dennis and the Open House" above) plays repairman Opie Swanson. 

Season 1, Episode 23, "Dennis Creates a Hero": Charles Seel (shown on the left, played the bartender on Tombstone Territory and Tom Pride on The Road West) plays newspaper editor Mr. Krinkie. 

Season 1, Episode 24, "Dennis' Paper Drive": Helen Kleeb (Miss Claridge on Harrigan and Son, Miss Tandy on Room 222, and Mamie Baldwin on The Waltons) plays paper drive sponsor Mrs. Holland. 

Season 1, Episode 25, "Dennis and the Bees": Dub Taylor (see "Dennis and the Open House" above) plays beekeeper Opie Swanson. Will Wright (shown on the right, played Ben Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show) plays nursery owner Mr. Merrivale. Addison Richards (starred in Boys Town, They Made Her a Spy, Flying Tigers, and The Deerslayer and played Doc Calhoun on Trackdown and Doc Landy on The Deputy) plays grumpy millionaire Mr. Stacy.

Season 1, Episode 26, "Alice's Birthday": Charles Lane (shown on the left, played Mr. Fosdick on Dear Phoebe, Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction, Foster Phinney on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dale Busch on Karen, and Judge Anthony Petrillo on Soap) plays drugstore owner Mr. Finch. Molly Dodd (Miss Scott on Hazel) plays saleswoman Ms. Williams. Eleanor Audley (Mother Eunice Douglas on Green Acres and Mrs. Vincent on My Three Sons) plays shopper Mrs. Pompton. Kathryn Card (Mrs. McGillicuddy on I Love Lucy, Mrs. Papernow on The Charles Farrell Show, and Maw Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour) plays outraged by-stander Mrs. Biddy.

Season 1, Episode 28, "Dennis and the Starlings": Robert B. Williams (Barney on Hazel) plays postman Mr. Dorfman. Mary Wickes (shown on the right, starred in White Christmas, Destry, The Music Man, The Trouble With Angels, and Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! and played Katie on Walt Disney Presents: Annette, Liz O'Neill on Make Room for Daddy, Ida Goff on Temple Houston, Melba Chegley on Julia, Aunt Zelda on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Nurse Beatrice Tully on Doc, and Marie on Father Dowling Mysteries) plays spinster Esther Cathcart. Forrest Lewis (Mr. Peavey on The Great Gildersleeve) plays pest control expert Mr. Prince.

Season 1, Episode 29, "The Party Line": Ron Howard (see "Dennis Haunts a House" above) returns as Dennis' friend Stewart. Gregory Walcott (shown on the left, starred in Badman's Country and Plan 9 From Outer Space and played Det. Roger Havilland on 87th Precinct) plays mover Floyd. Morgan Jones (Sgt. Corey on Highway Patrol, Cmdr. Donovan on The Blue Angels, Sgt. Charlie Phillips on Arrest and Trial, and Howard Pender on Mannix) plays mover Joe.

Season 1, Episode 30, "Dennis by Proxy": Willard Waterman (shown on the right, played Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve on The Great Gildersleeve and Mac Maginnis on The Real McCoys) plays grocer Mr. Quigley. Robert B. Williams (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as postman Mr. Dorfman. Ron Howard (see "Dennis Haunts a House" above) returns as Dennis' friend Stewart. Hugh Sanders (starred in That's My Boy, The Pride of St. Louis, The Winning Team, and The Wild One) plays shopper Mr. Sanderson. Stanley Fafara (Hubert "Whitey" Whitney on Leave It to Beaver) plays Dennis' stand-in Herbie.

Season 1, Episode 31, "Dennis Runs Away": Gil Smith (Steve Lindsay on Peter Loves Mary) plays Dennis' friend Joey. James T. Callahan (shown on the left, played Dr. Yates Atkinson on Dr. Kildare, Danny Adams on Wendy and Me, George Callison on The Governor and J.J., Sgt. Hal Grady on The Runaways, and Walter Powell on Charles in Charge) plays police Officer Holt. George Cisar (see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 1, Episode 32, "Miss Cathcart's Sunsuit": Mary Wickes (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as spinster Esther Cathcart. Robert B. Williams (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as postman Mr. Dorfman. Cyril Delevanti (Lucious Coin on Jefferson Drum) plays store owner Mr. Gibson. Tyler McVey (Gen. Maj. Norgath on Men Into Space) plays landscaper Mr. Carlson.

Season 2, Episode 1, "Out of Retirement": Vinton Hayworth (Magistrado Carlos Galindo on Zorro, Oren Slauson on Lawman, Mr. Sutherland on Hazel, Dr. Faber on Green Acres, and Gen. Winfield Schaeffer on I Dream of Jeannie) plays Mr. Wilson's former boss Mr. Cramer. 

Season 2, Episode 2, "Dennis and the Wedding": Elinor Donahue (shown on the right, played Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, Ellie Walker on The Andy Griffith Show, Joan Randall on Many Happy Returns, Miriam on The Odd Couple, Jane Mulligan on Mulligan's Stew, Susan Baxter on The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Gladys Peterson on Get a Life, Rebecca Quinn on Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, and Judge Marie Anderson on The Young and the Restless) plays the Wilsons' niece Georgianna Balanger. Don Spruance (shown on the left, played Dr. Robert Ward on Ben Casey) plays her fiancé Lt. Robert Lee Black. Morris Ankrum (starred in Rocketship X-M, Invaders From Mars, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, and The Giant Claw and played the judge 22 times on Perry Mason) plays the minister. Mary Wickes (see "Dennis and the Starlings" above) returns as spinster Esther Cathcart.

Season 2, Episode 3, "Dennis and the Radio Set": Ellen Corby (shown on the left, played Henrietta Porter on Trackdown and Esther Walton on The Waltons) plays lost money claimant Miss Douglass. Hal Smith (Charlie Henderson on I Married Joan, Hickey on Jefferson Drum, Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show, Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, and did voicework on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, The Fantastic Four, The Dukes, and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) plays auctioneer Mr. Mooney. Charles Seel (see "Dennis Creates a Hero" above) returns as newspaper editor Mr. Krinkie. 

Season 2, Episode 5, "The Stock Certificate": Guy Raymond (Cliff Murdock on Harris Against the World and Mr. Peevey on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays the phone company warehouse attendant. Hal Hopper (Cpl. Clarke on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and composed theme music for Circus Boy, 26 Men, Colt .45, and Bearcats!) plays a phone book distributor. 

Season 2, Episode 6, "Man of the House": Alan Hewitt (shown on the right, starred in That Touch of Mink, Days of Wine and Roses, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and played Det. Bill Brennan on My Favorite Martian) plays dinnerware salesman Alistair St. Clair. Olive Carey (appeared in Trader Horn, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula and played Elsie on Mr. Adams and Eve and Casey Halliman on Lock Up) plays cleaning woman Mrs. Rafferty. Mary Treen (appeared in Babbitt, Maid of Salem, Kitty Foyle ,and It's a Wonderful Life, and played Emily Dodger on Willy and Hilda on The Joey Bishop Show) plays St. Clair's hired cook. Jan Arvan (Nacho Torres on Zorro and Paw Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour) plays St. Clair's hired waiter. 

Season 2, Episode 7, "The Rock Collection": Claire Carleton (Nell Mulligan on The Mickey Rooney Show and Alice Purdy on Cimarron City) plays property buyer Harriet Schubert. 

Season 2, Episode 9, "Paint-up, Clean-up Week": Paul Barselou (played various bartenders in 9 episodes of Bewitched) plays committee member Mr. Staley. George Cisar (see "Dennis and the Rare Coin" above) returns as Sgt. Mooney.

Season 2, Episode 10, "Dennis Learns to Whistle": Barry Gordon (shown on the left, played Dennis Whitehead on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Charlie Harrison on Fish, Gary Rabinowitz on Archie Bunker's Place, Roger Hightower on A Family for Joe, and was the voice of Donatello on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) plays boys' Indian chief Buzzy Hanson. Bob Jellison (Waldo Binney on The Life of Riley and Bobby the Bellboy on I Love Lucy) plays a TV announcer. 

Season 2, Episode 11, "The Raffle Ticket": Lurene Tuttle (appeared in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Ma Barker's Killer Brood, Psycho, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and The Fortune Cookie and played Doris Dunston on Father of the Bride and Hannah Yarby on Julia) plays raffle ticket buyer Mrs. Courtland. Harry Cheshire (Judge Ben Riley on Buffalo Bill, Jr. and Judge Traeger on Lawman) plays raffle MC Mr. Petry. 

Season 2, Episode 12, "The Christmas Horse": Ernest Truex (shown on the right, played Mr. Remmington on Mr. Peepers, Grandpa McHummer on Jamie, Jason McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, and Pop on Pete and Gladys) plays Christmas tree salesman Mr. McGuire. Billy Hummert (Cornell Clayton on Margie) plays cattle pony recipient Johnny Fleming. Henry Beckman (Commander Paul Richards on Flash Gordon, Mulligan on I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, George Anderson on Peyton Place, Colonel Harrigan on McHale's Navy, Capt. Roland Frances Clancey on Here Come the Brides, Pat Harwell on Funny Face, Harry Mark on Bronk, and Alf Scully on Check It Out) plays his father. Irene Vernon (the first Louise Tate on Bewitched) plays his mother. Stuart Nisbet (the bartender on The Virginian) plays Margaret's father Mr. Wade.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gunsmoke (1960)

As the longest-running television show before The Simpsons and Law & Order came along and still the most popular western series of all time, Gunsmoke has a well-chronicled history that hardly needs to be retold in detail. Beginning as a radio drama in 1952 with William Conrad as Matt Dillon, Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell, Howard McNear (who would later play Floyd the barber on The Andy Griffith Show) as Doc Adams, and Parley Baer as Chester Proudfoot, the series was adapted for TV in 1955, though the radio version continued until 1961. Though Conrad possessed a commanding voice perfect for the radio Matt Dillon, his portly figure would not play well in the mid-50's TV landscape, and the TV role was given to 6'7" John Wayne mentee James Arness. In fact, Wayne introduced the TV pilot and had to persuade the easy-going Arness to take what would be the role of his life because at that time television was seen as a step down from feature-length theatrical films. The rest of the cast was new for television as well with Amanda Blake playing Kitty, veteran Milburn Stone as Doc, and a young Dennis Weaver as the renamed Marshal's assistant Chester Goode. 

Even in its radio incarnation, the series was seen by its creators, producer Norman MacDonnell and lead writer John Meston, as a western for adult audiences, in contrast to the child-oriented westerns like Hopalong Cassidy and The Cisco Kid then in vogue. And Gunsmoke certainly portrayed its share of senseless tragedy and even a whiff of scandal, as it was assumed that Miss Kitty at one time was a lady of the evening, or as Blake told TV Guide in a December 10, 1960 cover story "a tramp," a descriptor that she said almost got her fired in the show's early days. This boldness did not make the show an instant hit, but by its second season, it had cracked the top 10 in the ratings, and by year 3 it reached the top of the heap, where it remained until the show was expanded from 30 minutes to an hour during the 1961-62 season and was knocked from its perch by Wagon Train. Even a year before they expanded the format, the producers could not leave well enough alone, tinkering at the beginning of season 6 in the fall of 1960 by spicing up the theme song for more drama, as if trying to catch some of the tension of Bernard Herrmann's theme for Have Gun -- Will Travel. And though George Walsh is credited as the original Gunsmoke announcer, from its radio debut through its 20-year TV run, there is a distinct change in tone and voice during the opening segment, from a pinched, squirrelly-sounding voice in season 5 to a polished, professional radio voice in season 6. Either Walsh was replaced or had a surprising vocal makeover between seasons. And, of course, the series also underwent many cast changes over the years, most notably the departure of Weaver in 1964, eventually "replaced" by Ken Curtis as Festus Haggen. By 1967 the show was rumored to be on the verge of cancelation but was saved by a public uproar (and some backroom campaigning by a network executive's wife) that kept it around for another 8 years.

But in calendar year 1960 the show was not only atop the ratings but its stars were in great demand for personal appearances. Both TV Guide cover stories that year (January 2 and December 10) commented on the vaudeville-style act that supporting actors Stone, Blake, and Weaver had worked up and were performing around the country at various rodeos, festivals, and other civic functions. In his autobiography Arness remarks that he was never one for public events, preferring to give the limelight to his cast colleagues, but he also rode in his share of parades and was always willing to appear at any military-themed event.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, other TV westerns thought highly of the Gunsmoke formula as well. In a few but not many episodes aired during 1960, the show begins with Dillon walking through the Boot Hill Cemetery musing about the foibles of folks who wound up there and signing off each epilogue with the tagline "Matt Dillon, U.S. Marshal." Rawhide began many of its episodes with a similar device, some sort of observation about human nature signed off by "Gil Favor, Trail Boss." Kitty's saloon proprietor character obviously in love with the town lawman was copied by Lawman where Peggie Castle's character Lily Merrill has a similar relationship with local sheriff Dan Troop. 

But the characters of Doc and Chester seem to have qualities unique to Gunsmoke. Plenty of other westerns have a town doctor that shows up from time to time, but none are as central to the overall cast as Gunsmoke's Doc Adams, who functions as Kitty's confidant, Chester's foil, and frequently a source of humor, in contrast to the usually dry, all-business doctors seen on other shows. Chester is likewise a different sort of sidekick in that he is not an official deputy like Johnny McKay on Lawman or Clay McCord on The Deputy. Chester is more of a jailhouse housekeeper, cleaning out the cells, making meals for prisoners, and brewing coffee that set the standard for western wisecracks for decades. But though he comes in for more than his share of ribbing, particularly from Doc, and is never one to turn down an offer of free food or alcohol, he can also hold his own when necessary, as demonstrated in the episode "Doc Judge" (February 6, 1960) in which escaped convict Bryce Harp mistakes Adams for the judge who sentences him 7 years prior and is determined to kill him in return. However, with Matt out of town on other business, Chester steps in and baits Harp into walking into a trap in Doc's darkened office where he gets Harp to play his hand and then shoots him dead. Doc is shaken by his near-death experience but is unable to summon the words to thank Chester for saving his life, instead remonstrating with him to be sure to come by the next morning so that he can check the wound where Harp's bullet grazed Chester's neck.

Though the 39 episodes that aired during calendar year 1960 touch on a variety of subjects, two themes recur with regular frequency. The first are variations on the line from Renaissance British playwright William Congreve that hell has no fury like a woman scorned, or, in Gunsmoke's case, mistreated. In "Till Death Do Us Part" (January 16, 1960), brow-beaten wife Minerva Cobb hires someone to kill her abusive husband, and when that fails and he figures out what she has done, she shoots him with a rifle to avoid any further beatings from him. "I Thee Wed" (April 16, 1960) features another abusive husband, Sam Lackett, whose wife Heather comes into town to try to get him to come home and stop spending the family savings on liquor and gambling. After Lackett is arrested for shooting Dillon in the shoulder, Heather bails him out after selling a prized broach that Sam had been trying to hock earlier. Rather than showing gratitude, Sam grabs her purse and the money left from selling the broach and is headed to fritter it away when Heather shoots him dead. In "Lady Killer" (April 23, 1960) bar maid Mae Talmy covers for killer Cy Welch until he slaps her around for not killing Dillon, the only living witness who can testify against him. So Mae tips off Dillon when he is about to walk into Welch's trap and pays with her life when Welch shoots her, but Dillon shoots Welch dead, too, to complete the tragedy. "Belle's Back" (May 14, 1960) tells another tale of a woman, Belle Ainsley, who aids and abets fugitive Jess Creider, until he skips out on her with her younger sister, so she tells Dillon of a secret shack where Creider has undoubtedly gone to hide out. Dillon and Chester finds Creider there, and when he tries to draw on them, Dillon shoots him down. In "Old Flame" (May 28, 1960) Dillon is drawn into a game of vengeance by a former acquaintance Dolly Winters, whom Kitty immediately suspects of being up to something. Matt is initially fooled by her plea for help from Rad Meadows, who she claims is trying to kill her. But Dillon eventually figures out that Dolly has been pursuing Rad, who is now happily married to someone else, and Dolly has been trying to set up Matt to shoot Rad for revenge. And, finally, in "Old Fool" (December 24, 1960) faithful wife of 30 years Della Bass threatens younger predatory widow Elsie Hedgepeth with a few well-placed rifle shots to warn her to stay away from her husband Hannibal. When Elsie presses charges and Hannibal continues to ignore his wife, Della burns down their house and barn to prove to her husband that the young widow was just after his belongings.

The show's other dominant theme, touched on in "Old Fool" but given deeper treatment in several other episodes, is that ordinary citizens should not take the law into their own hands. Matt Dillon is very proprietary about his role as the lawman in Dodge and surrounding areas, and he must often warn others not to try to usurp his position by dispensing their own brand of justice. Dillon is also very clear that his role is to try to find out who committed a crime and to lock them up, but it is up to the circuit judge to try them and administer any sentence that may be due. "Groat's Grudge" (January 2, 1960) begins the new year with this theme as ex-Confederate soldier Lee Grayson rides into Dodge looking for Tom Hasket, who fought for the Union and whom Grayson could have killed at Manassas but took pity on, only to learn later that Hasket was part of General Sherman's army that burned down Atlanta, resulting in the death of Grayson's wife. When Dillon learns of Grayson's intentions, he tells Chester that he will have to somehow find a reason to arrest Grayson before he can kill Hasket. Unfortunately, Grayson is too crafty and bribes a work camp cook to point out and leave him alone with Hasket, whom he shoots in the stomach despite Hasket's protestations that he was wounded at the time of Sherman's march and was nowhere near Atlanta. When Dillon finally does show up and summons Doc, who vouches for Hasket's story having treated him during the war, Grayson tries to attack them and Matt is forced to shoot him. Dillon also even refuses to bend the rules for old friend Esteban Garcia in "Don Matteo" (October 22, 1960), who has come to town looking for revenge against Garth Tabor, who made advances to his woman Maria. Garcia tries to recruit Matt to help him, since they once were compadres working for cattle ranchers in hunting down rustlers. But Matt says that he must abide by the law and that if Garcia shoots Tabor, Matt will have to arrest him. Garcia says this makes him sad and will perhaps require them to find out who is the faster with his gun. When Matt finally finds Garcia with Tabor trapped and hiding in a root cellar, Garcia forces the issue by trying to draw on Dillon, who has no option but to shoot his old friend in upholding the law. "Brother Love" (December 31, 1960) tells the story of family that says they take care of their own, which also includes dispensing justice amongst themselves when a family member does wrong. In this case, it appears that Nate Cumbers shot and killed a clerk while robbing Mr. Jonas' store one rainy night. Even though Dillon has Nate locked up, his mother brings him a home-cooked meal that is poisoned, thereby killing her own son rather than letting a judge decide his fate. However, it turns out that the other son, Frank, was the real murderer, but he does not get away clean because in attempting his getaway he spurns saloon girl Polly, who had originally provided him with an alibi, and she shoots him down, claiming that she was nearly a member of the family since Frank had at one time mollified her by saying that they would get married. It is more than a little ironic that this iconic western show's defense of a modern system of justice with clearly defined roles for lawmen and judges in a sense contradicted the myth of the old west as a largely lawless time and place where whoever drew fastest made the rules. Or stated another way, rather than providing an escape to a simpler time in the past, Gunsmoke instead attempted to reinforce the modern status quo.

The Gunsmoke theme, "Old Trails" was composed by Rex Koury, born in London, UK in 1911. His parents moved to Cranford, NJ the following year. As a boy, he was entranced by the organist playing accompaniment during a silent movie and persuaded his parents to pay for lessons. Soon he was playing for free at the theater in Cranford and at his father's urging landed a paying gig at another theater in Elmora, NJ. In 1929 he became organist at Troy, NJ's RKO theater, turning down a Princeton sports scholarship, and then went on a circuit tour of RKO theaters, earning the nickname "The Boy With Miles of Smiles" and wowing performers he opened for, like Bob Hope and George Burns. When silent movies were eventually replaced by talkies and theaters no longer needed organists. Koury moved to Hollywood and played piano for performers like Ted Mack and organ for early TV shows like Mayor of the Town and Point Sublime. He was working for ABC in 1952 when he was recruited to compose and conduct music for Gunsmoke, first on the radio and then on television. Koury also composed the theme music for over 100 episodes between 1955 and 1974 (only two of them in 1960), all of them uncredited. Besides his work on Gunsmoke, he had a handful of credits on other TV shows, like You Don't Say! He died in 2006 at the age of 95 in Caspar, Wyoming.

Other noted soundtrack composers who contributed scores to the show during 1960 include Jerry Goldsmith, Leith Stevens, Fred Steiner, Nathan Scott, Lyn Murray, Wilbur Hatch, and Rene Garriguenc.

As of this post, the first nine seasons have been released on DVD by CBS/Paramount Home Video.

The Actors

James Arness

Born James King Aurness in Minneapolis, Arness' family came to the U.S. from Norway. His younger brother Peter also became an actor and took the stage name of Peter Graves. In his autobiography, Arness describes himself in his youth as being keen on outdoor sports like hunting and ice sailing but not terribly interested in school. He also liked traveling and adventure, and he and a few of his buddies would ride the rails to distant towns, sometimes out of state without telling his parents beforehand. During World War II he had hoped to become a fighter pilot but at 6'7" was too tall and wound up in the infantry, taking part in the invasion of Anzio, Italy in 1944 by being the first off the boat to gauge the height of the water while carrying two knapsacks full of TNT. On February 1, 1944, he was point man on a night mission in complete darkness when he stumbled into a German machine gun nest and was badly wounded in his right leg. That was the end of his military service, for which he won the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, amongst other recognitions. When he recovered from his leg wounds, which continued to bother him throughout his lifetime, he enrolled in college and began doing voicework at the local radio station. Eventually he and a friend hitch-hiked to Hollywood, where he hoped to find more radio work. But when that didn't pan out, he and his friend enrolled in an acting school, and from an appearance in a play put on by one of his acting teachers Arness was spotted by a couple of theatrical agents and eventually was cast as Loretta Young's younger brother in The Farmer's Daughter. But despite the film's success and the positive response to Arness' performance, he did not make a very concerted effort to find more work, preferring instead to live on the beach and body-surf all day. It took a Navy buddy of his hitch-hiking companion to drag him to the Pasadena Playhouse and get him cast in a production of Candida, where he met his first wife, Virginia Chapman. Chapman forced him to get back in touch with Leon Lance, the agent who got him the job in Farmer's Daughter, and the two of them began working at getting Arness roles in various war films, westerns, and exotic fare such as Veils of Bagdad and a memorable role as an alien giant in The Thing From Another World. During this time, Chapman also urged Arness to continue acting in local theater productions and after one of these performances he was approached by a man who set up a meeting the next day with John Wayne. Arness was given a supporting role in Wayne's anti-Communist screed Big Jim McLain. Wayne took a liking to Arness and soon had him appearing in several more of his movies, essentially managing his career in the process to the dismay of Arness' wife. The easy-going Arness was hardly one to stand up to Wayne, and the friction between Arness' wife and his benefactor soon led to the dissolution of his first marriage. However, his acting career continued to prosper. When CBS decided to adapt the radio show Gunsmoke for television, Arness was recommended for the part of Matt Dillon by director Charles Marquis Warren, with whom he had worked on the film Hellgate. At first Arness wasn't sure he wanted to work in a TV series, but when threatened by producer William Dozier (who later produced the Batman TV series) he went ahead and auditioned. And then when he was offered the part he still was indecisive about whether he should take it until Wayne advised him to do so. 

Needless to say, the next 20 years were the highpoint of Arness' career, and he even reprised the role of Marshal Dillon for several made-for-TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s. He also starred in the series How The West Was Won, which debuted as a TV movie in 1976, then morphed into a mini-series in 1977, and finally became a regular series in 1978-79. During his Gunsmoke years Arness became an avid pilot, owning several planes, and even achieving instrument certification. He remarried, to Janet Surtees, in 1978 and experienced extreme highs and lows as a parent--his son Rolf won the world surfing championship in 1970 and his son Craig became a successful photographer, but his daughter Jenny Lee died of a drug overdose in 1975, which Arness attributed to her hanging out with bad influences in "the rock scene." Arness himself passed away, due to natural causes, on June 3, 2011 at the age of 88.

Amanda Blake

Beverly Louise Neill was born in Buffalo, NY, the daughter of a banker and descended from Revolutionary War hero Catherine "Kate" Moore Barry. After high school, she enrolled at Pomona College but was more interested in participating in theatre productions than in schoolwork, even helping to paint backdrops and scenery. After doing local theatre and radio dramas in Buffalo, she moved to Hollywood and appeared in her first film, Stars in My Crown, in 1950. Dubbed a "young Greer Garson," Blake had steady film work through the early 50s, appearing in The Sunny Side of the Street, Lili, and A Star Is Born, as well as the title role in Miss Robinson Crusoe in 1954. The following year she began her career-defining role as Kitty Russell on Gunsmoke , which strictly limited other roles thereafter. However, she did periodically appear as the character Ruby on The Red Skelton Hour, and after Gunsmoke ended she had single appearances on The Love Boat and Hart to Hart in the late 70s.

Blake was also a noted animal welfare activist. She owned a pet lion during her Gunsmoke days and in retirement she and her third husband Frank Gilbert successfully breeded cheetahs in captivity and raised seven generations of cheetahs. She was also a founding member of PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) and helped form the Arizona Animal Welfare League, the oldest and largest no-kill organization in the state. After her death a wildlife range for African hoofed animals was opened in California as a home for animals originally intended for exotic animal auctions and hunting ranches. Blake was a heavy smoker and contracted oral cancer in 1977, which she survived. She passed away at age 60 from liver failure and AIDS-related hepatitis, possibly contracted from her fourth husband, openly bisexual Austin, TX City Council member Mark Spaeth.

Milburn Stone

Hugh Milburn Stone was born in central Kansas in 1904. His uncle Fred Stone was a successful comedian on Broadway, and Milburn Stone began acting in traveling theatre groups from an early age. He also performed in vaudeville as half of the duo Stone and Strain, experience that would come in handy during his Gunsmoke days when he, Amanda Blake, and Dennis Weaver put together an act that performed at county fairs and rodeos. He made his way to Hollywood and began a lengthy string of uncredited appearances beginning in 1935, which included a spot in Harold Lloyd's The Milky Way in 1936. Though he had a few leading roles--Federal Bullets (1937), The Great Alaskan Mystery (1944), and The Master Key (1945)--most of his parts were supporting roles, including a recurring role in the Tailspin Tommy serials of the 1940s. He had an uncredited appearance as Stephen A. Douglas in John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln and for a short time was even a singer in Harry James' orchestra.

His role on Gunsmoke as Doc Adams would be the last of his career. He won an Emmy for the role in 1968, and in 1971 suffered a heart attack that forced him to miss 7 episodes and curtailed his screen time thereafter, though he stayed with the show until its final cancelation. A lifelong friend of Ronald Reagan, Stone passed away from another heart attack at the age of 75 on June 12, 1980, before his old buddy was sworn in as President of the United States the following January.

Dennis Weaver

William Dennis Weaver was born in Joplin, MO in 1924 of European and Cherokee descent and had acting ambitions from an early age. After serving as a Navy pilot during World War II, he attended the University of Oklahoma as a track athlete, finishing 6th in decathlon at the Olympic Trials in 1948. He joked that his failure to make the team convinced him to stay in New York and try his hand at acting. He began in theatre productions and joined The Actors Studio, where he met Shelley Winters, who later helped him get a contract with Universal Studios in 1952, the same year of his film debut in The Redhead From Wyoming. After a string of film appearances through the early 50s, including Jack Webb's original film version of Dragnet and 6 more turns on the TV show that followed it, Weaver was cast as Chester Goode on Gunsmoke after botching his first reading for the part and begging for a second chance, during which he adopted his humorous southern-drawl take on Marshal Dillon's sidekick. Unlike his castmates, Weaver still found time for occasional film and TV appearances while appearing on Gunsmoke. He had a memorable role as a hotel clerk in the noir suspense classic Touch of Evil and appeared in single episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone.

The role made him a household name and garnered him a 1959 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor, but it was to be only the beginning of a long high-profile career. Weaver left the Gunsmoke cast in 1964 and immediately was given his own show Kentucky Jones about a veterinarian, which lasted only one season. But after appearing in the feature film Gentle Giant about a boy who befriends an orphaned bear, Weaver was cast in the same role as the boy's father for the TV version, Gentle Ben, which ran for two seasons. The following year began the second great TV role of his career as the clever western sheriff hired to run New York City on McCloud, which ran for seven seasons and earned him two Emmy nominations. During this time he also appeared in a number of TV movies, most notably Steven Spielberg's directorial debut Duel in 1971. The regular TV roles continued throughout the rest of his life, including on the mini-series Centennial, the title role on the 1980 series Stone, two years on Emerald Point, N.A.S., another title role on Buck James, as Buffalo Bill Cody on Lonesome Dove: The Series, and as Harry on Wildfire up until his death at age 81 on February 24, 2006 from cancer. He was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973-75, was a vegetarian as far back as 1958, and an environmental activist, founding the Institute of Ecolonomics. He also commissioned architect Michael Reynolds to design his home in Ridgway, Colorado from recycled materials in the late 1980s.

Dabbs Greer

Longtime character actor Robert William Greer, also born in Missouri, appeared in 42 episodes of Gunsmoke from 1956-68 as storekeeper Wilbur Jonas. But his resume included appearances on many, many more shows during that time all the way up to 2003. He began as a child actor in local theatre productions before moving to California and beginning a string of uncredited film roles in 1949. These included Father's Little Dividend, Deadline U.S.A., The Bad and the Beautiful, and Million Dollar Mermaid. He also began getting a few credited roles in the early 50s, including the Vincent Price 3D horror classic House of Wax, the sci-fi alien masterpiece Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the prison thriller Riot in Cell Block 11, to name but a few. His other regular TV roles included as Coach Ossie Weiss on Hank (1965-66), as Norrie Coolidge on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1968-69), as the Reverend Robert Alden on Little House on the Prairie (1974-83), the Reverend Henry Novotny on Picket Fences (1992-96), and as Grandpa Fred Stage on Maybe It's Me (2001-2002). His many other roles included the chaplain who married Rob and Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and the minister who married Mike and Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. He died of renal failure and heart disease at the age of 90 on April 28, 2007.

George Selk

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1893, George Selk appeared as Dodge City stable-keeper Moss Grimmick in 45 episodes of Gunsmoke from 1955-64. No biographical information other than his filmography and birth and death dates has been published online as of the date of this post. His film career began at age 60 in a series of uncredited movie appearances, including It Came From Outer Space, and a single appearance on the TV series I Led 3 Lives. He began getting credited roles on TV shows in the mid-50s, including Highway Patrol, Broken Arrow, and Father Knows Best, and these occasional appearances continued until a final role on The Andy Griffith Show in 1966. He died the following year at the age of 73 on January 22 in Montrose, California.

Clem Fuller

Like Selk, Fuller is known for little else other than his filmography, particularly on Gunsmoke on which he played Longbranch bartender Clem in 32 episodes from 1959 until his death at age 52 on May 24, 1961. Born in Los Angeles County in 1908, Fuller's first appearance was uncredited at age 20 in the short Motorboat Mamas. Other than credited appearances in two 1950 films The Sundowners and High Lonesome, The Great Sioux Uprising in 1953, and The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm in 1957, all of his other feature-length roles were uncredited. On TV he had multiple appearances on Peter Gunn, Maverick, and Rawhide and a single appearance on Bonanza. Most of these were uncredited as well.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 5, Episode 17, "Groat's Grudge": Ross Elliott (Freddie the director on The Jack Benny Show and Sheriff Abbott on The Virginian) plays ex-Confederate soldier Lee Grayson. Clegg Hoyt (Mac on Dr. Kildare) plays an unnamed trail cook. 

Season 5, Episode 18, "Big Tom": Harry Lauter (shown on the left, played Ranger Clay Morgan on Tales of the Texas Rangers, Atlasande on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, and Jim Herrick on Waterfront) plays fight promoter Cran Cray. Don Megowan (Captain Huckabee on The Beachcomber) plays prizefighter Hob Creel. Robert J. Wilke (appeared in Best of the Badmen, High Noon, The Far Country, and Night Passage and played Capt. Mendoza on Zorro) plays former fighter Tom Burr. 

Season 5, Episode 19, "Til Death Do Us Part": Milton Selzer (Parker on Get Smart, Abe Werkfinder on The Famous Teddy Z, and Manny Henry on Valley of the Dolls) plays abusive husband Jezra Cobb. Mary Field (Thelma Gibney on Topper) plays his wife Minerva. Rayford Barnes (Ike Clanton on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays drifter Puggy Rado. 

Season 5, Episode 20, "The Tragedian": John Abbott (appeared in The Woman in White, Madame Bovary, The Merry Widow, and Gigi) plays thespian Edward Vandermann. Howard McNear (shown on the right, played Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show and Jansen the Plumber on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show) plays store owner Joe Carpy. Harry Wood (Doc Cunningham on Tombstone Territory) plays poker player Ben.
Season 5, Episode 21, "Hinka Do": Walter Burke (starred in All the King's Men, Jack the Giant Killer, and Support Your Local Sheriff! and played Tim Potter on Black Saddle) plays missing saloon proprietor Herman Bleeker. Ric Roman (Capt. Briones on Zorro) plays Mexican eyewitness Manuel. Richard Reeves (Mr. Murphy on Date With the Angels) plays a heckling drunkard.

Season 5, Episode 22, "Doc Judge": Dennis Cross (Cmdr. Arthur Richards on The Blue Angels) plays drunken bar-fly Bob.

Season 5, Episode 23, "Moo Moo Raid": Raymond Hatton (starred in Oliver Twist (1916), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Lord Jim, played Marshal Sandy Hopkins in 28 westerns and Rusty Joslin in 7 other westerns, and played The Mole on Dick Tracy) plays Onie Hager, owner of a river-crossing cow. Robert Karnes (Max Fields on The Lawless Years and Deputy D.A. Victor Chamberlin on Perry Mason) plays trail boss Bert Downey. Richard Evans (Paul Hanley on Peyton Place) plays trail-hand Pete. Ron Hayes (Wyatt Earp on Bat Masterson, Lincoln Vail on Everglades, Ben Jones on The Rounders, and Hank Johnson on Dallas) plays trail-hand Cary.

Season 5, Episode 24, "Kitty's Killing": Abraham Sofaer (starred in Christopher Columbus, Quo Vadis, and Elephant Walk) plays vengeful Brit Jeremiah Leech. John Pickard (Capt. Shank Adams on Boots and Saddles and Sgt. Maj. Murdock on Gunslinger) plays father-to-be Ollie Radford. 

Season 5, Episode 25, "Jailbait Janet": John Larch (shown on the left, starred in The Wrecking Crew, Play Misty for Me, and Dirty Harry and played Deputy District Attorney Jerry Miller on Arrest and Trial, Gerald Wilson on Dynasty, and Arlen & Atticus Ward on Dallas) plays train robber Dan Everly. Steven Terrell (Tom on The Pride of the Family) plays his son Jerry. Bartlett Robinson (Frank Caldwell on Mona McCluskey) plays train company agent Mr. Crocker. Jon Lormer (Harry Tate on Lawman, various autopsy surgeons and medical examiners in 12 episodes of Perry Mason, and Judge Irwin A. Chester on Peyton Place) plays a train clerk. 

Season 5, Episode 26, "Unwanted Deputy": Charles Aidman (narrator on the 1985-87 version of The Twilight Zone) plays vengeful brother Vince Walsh. Mary Carver (Cecilia Simon on Simon & Simon) plays his wife Maisie. Ray Boyle (Morgan Earp on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays card-player Tuohy. 

Season 5, Episode 27, "Where'd They Go?": Jack Elam (shown on the right, played Deputy J.D. Smith on The Dakotas, George Taggart on Temple Houston, Zack Wheeler on The Texas Wheelers, and Uncle Alvin Stevenson on Easy Street) plays homesteader Clint Dodie. Betty Harford (Mrs. Nottingham on The Paper Chase and Hilda Gunnerson on Dynasty) plays his wife Medora. 

Season 5, Episode 28, "Crowbait Bob": Hank Patterson (Fred Ziffel on Green Acres and Petticoat Junction and Hank on later episodes of Gunsmoke) plays old drunkard Crowbait Bob. Ned Glass (MSgt. Andy Pendleton on The Phil Silvers Show, Sol Cooper on Julia, and Uncle Moe Plotnick on Bridget Loves Bernie) plays his nephew-in-law Elbin Guilbert. 

Season 5, Episode 29, "Colleen So Green": Joanna Moore (mother of Tatum and Griffin O'Neal, appeared in Touch of Evil, Son of Flubber, and Never a Dull Moment and played Meggy McMillan on The Andy Griffith Show) plays southern belle Colleen Toni. Harry Swoger (Harry the bartender on The Big Valley) plays buffalo skin trader Bull Rieger. Robert Brubaker (Deputy Ed Blake on U.S. Marshal and later played Floyd on Gunsmoke) plays stagecoach driver Jim Buck. 

Season 5, Episode 30, "The Ex-Urbanites": Robert J. Wilke (see "Big Tom" above) plays wolf hunter Pitt Gillette. Lew Brown (SAC Allan Bennett on The F.B.I.) plays his brother Nage. Ken Curtis (shown on the left, starred in Mister Roberts, The Searchers, and The Alamo and played Jim Buckley on Ripcord, Hoyt Coryell on The Yellow Rose, and later played Festus on Gunsmoke) plays his partner Jesse Turnbow.

Season 5, Episode 31, "I Thee Wed": Allyn Joslyn (appeared in Only Angels Have Wings, My Sister Eileen, Heaven Can Wait(1943), and Titanic(1953) and played George Howell on The Eve Arden Show and Colonel Harvey T. Blackwell on McKeever & the Colonel) plays abusive husband Sam Lackett. Alice Frost (Mama Holstrum on The Farmer's Daughter) plays his wife Hester. Hank Patterson (see "Crowbait Bob" above) plays the circuit judge.

Season 5, Episode 32, "Lady Killer": Harry Lauter (see "Big Tom" above) plays accused murderer Cy Welch. Ross Elliott (see "Groat's Grudge" above) plays key witness Grant Lucas.

Season 5, Episode 33, "Gentlemen's Disagreement": Adam Kennedy (Dion Patrick on The Californians) plays hunted husband Bert Wells. Tom Reese (starred in Taggart, The Money Trap, and Murderers' Row and played Sgt. Thomas Velie on Ellery Queen) plays bar-fly Tulsa. 

Season 5, Episode 34, "Speak Me Fair": Douglas Kennedy (starred in Adventures of Don Juan, I Was an American Spy, and Jack McCall, Desperado and played Marshal Steve Donovan on Steve Donovan, Western Marshal and Sheriff Fred Madden on The Big Valley) plays cattle rancher Walter Traych. Ken Curtis (see "The Ex-Urbanites" above) plays a half-Kiawa scout. Perry Cook (Barney Udall on Hunter) plays an unnamed trapper.

Season 5, Episode 35, "Belle's Back": Nita Talbot (shown on the right, played Dora Miles on The Jim Backus Show, Marya on Hogan's Heroes, Judy Evans on Here We Go Again, Delfina on General Hospital, and Rose on Starting From Scratch) plays murderer's moll Belle Ainsley. Nancy Rennick (Patty Johnson on Rescue 8) plays her sister Phyllis. Gage Clarke (later played Mr. Botkin on Gunsmoke) plays Dodge House clerk Mr. Dobie.

Season 5, Episode 36, "The Bobsy Twins": Morris Ankrum (starred in Rocketship X-M, Invaders From Mars, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, and The Giant Claw and played the judge 22 times on Perry Mason) plays would-be Indian killer Merle Finney. Ralph Moody (Doc Burrage on The Rifleman) plays his brother Harvey. Richard Chamberlain (shown on the left, starred in Joy in the Morning, Julius Caesar, The Three Musketeers, and The Swarm and played Dr. James Kildare on Dr. Kildare and Dr. Daniel Kulani on Island Son) plays saloon prankster Pete. Buck Young (Deputy Buck Johnson on U.S. Marshal and Sergeant Whipple on Gomer Pyle: USMC) plays lone traveler Bud Grant. Hank Patterson (see "Crowbait Bob" above) plays blacksmith Carl Miller. 

Season 5, Episode 37, "Old Flame": Marilyn Maxwell (shown on the right, starred in Swing Fever, The Show-Off, The Lemon Drop Kid, and Rock-a-Bye Baby and played Grace Sherwood on Bus Stop) plays Dillon's former lady friend Dolly Winters. Hal Smith (Charlie Henderson on I Married Joan, Hickey on Jefferson Drum, Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show, Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, and did voicework on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, The Fantastic Four, The Dukes, and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) plays Dodge House clerk Mr. Dobie. Lee Van Cleef (starred in For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly) plays happily married husband Rad Meadows. Peggy Stewart (starred in Oregon Trail, Son of Zorro, and Desert Vigilante and played Cherien's mother on The Riches) plays his wife Mary.

Season 5, Episode 38, "The Deserter": Rudy Solari (Frank Martinez on Redigo and Casino on Garrison's Gorillas) plays cavalry deserter Lt. Lurie Janus. Jeanne Inness (Nurse Beatrice Fain on Dr. Kildare) plays his mother Maddie. Joseph V. Perry (Nemo  on Everybody Loves Raymond) plays his cohort Radin. Henry Brandon (starred in Secret Agent X-9, Drums of Fu Manchu, and The Searchers) plays Fort Dodge commander Major Hundington.

Season 5, Episode 39, "Cherry Red": Arthur Franz (starred in Flight to Mars, The Member of the Wedding, and The Caine Mutiny) plays railroad agent Red Larnett. Joanna Moore (see "Colleen So Green" above) plays dead train robber Slim's girl Cherry O'Dell. Douglas Kennedy (see "Speak Me Fair" above) plays Slim's partner in crime Yancey Cliver. 

Season 6, Episode 1, "Friend's Pay-off": Mike Road (Marshal Tom Sellers on Buckskin, Lt. Joe Switolski on The Roaring 20's, and provided the voice for Race T. Bannon on Johnny Quest, Ugh on Space Ghost, and Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic on The Fantastic Four) plays Matt's old friend in trouble Ab Butler. Tom Reese (see "Gentleman's Disagreement" above) plays Ab's pursuer Joe Leeds. 

Season 6, Episode 2, "The Blacksmith": George Kennedy (shown on the left, starred in Charade, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Dirty Dozen, Cool Hand Luke, and The Naked Gun and played MP Sgt. Kennedy on The Phil Silvers Show, Father Samuel Cavanuagh on Sarge, Bumper Morgan on The Blue Knight, and Carter McKay on Dallas) plays blacksmith Emil Wohlheter. Anna-Lisa (Nora Travers on Black Saddle) plays his mail-order bride Gretchen Mueller. Robert Anderson (Park Street, Jr. on The Court of Last Resort and Aeneas MacLinahan on Wichita Town) plays his nemesis Gil Tolman. Wesley Lau (Lt. Andy Anderson on Perry Mason and Master Sgt. Jiggs on The Time Tunnel) plays Tolman henchman Willy. 

Season 6, Episode 3, "Small Water": Trevor Bardette (starred in The Secret Code, Red River Valley, and Three Faces West and played Old Man Clanton on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp) plays lawless patriarch Finn Pickett. Warren Oates (starred in In the Heat of the Night, The Wild Bunch, and Stripes and played Ves Painter on Stoney Burke) plays his son Seth. 

Season 6, Episode 4, "Say Uncle": Harry Lauter (see "Big Tom" above) plays storekeeper Martin Nagle. Richard Rust (Hank Tabor on Sam Benedict) plays his son Lee. Dorothy Green (Lavinia Tate on Tammy) plays his wife Nancy. Gene Nelson (starred in The West Point Story, Lullaby of Broadway, Oklahoma!, and She's Working Her Way Through College and directed episodes of The Donna Reed Show, I Dream of Jeannie, The F.B.I., and Mod Squad and films such as Hootenany Hoot, Kissin' Cousins, and Harum Scarum) plays his long-lost brother Hutch. Roy Barcroft (Col. Logan on The Adventures of Spin and Marty and later played Roy on Gunsmoke) plays hired assassin George Farr.

Season 6, Episode 5, "Shooting Stopover": Patricia Barry (Kate Harris on Harris Against the World, Peg English on All My Children, and Miss Sally Gleason on Guiding Light) plays school-teacher Miss Laura. Robert Brubaker (see "Colleen So Green" above) returns as stagecoach driver Jim Buck. Paul Guilfoyle (appeared in Winterset, The Grapes of Wrath, and White Heat) plays an unnamed parson. 

Season 6, Episode 6, "The Peace Officer": Arthur Peterson (shown on the right, played The Major on Soap) plays store owner Mr. Parks. Gilman Rankin (Deputy Charlie Riggs on Tombstone Territory) plays Tascosa bartender Shay. Susan Cummings (Georgia on Union Pacific) plays saloon girl Stella Carney. James Nusser (later played Louie Pheeters on Gunsmoke) plays pig farmer Crowe. 

Season 6, Episode 7, "Don Matteo": Lawrence Dobkin (Dutch Schultz on The Untouchables, the narrator on Naked City, Judge Saul Edelstein on L.A. Law, and Judge Stanely Pittman on Melrose Place) plays Matt's old colleague Esteban Garcia. Bing Russell (Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza) plays troublemaker Garth Tabor. Barney Phillips (Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the original Dragnet, Lt. Sam Geller on Johnny Midnight, Lt. Avery on The Brothers Brannagan, Doc Kaiser on 12 O'Clock High, Mike Golden on Dan August, and Fletcher Huff on The Betty White Show) plays Longbranch manager Bill Pence. Roy Engel (Doc Martin on Bonanza, the police chief on My Favorite Martian, and President Ulysses S. Grant on The Wild, Wild West) plays farmer Bert Grimes. 

Season 6, Episode 8, "The Worm": Kenneth Tobey (starred in Angel Face, The Thing From Another World, and It Came From Beneath the Sea and played Chuck Martin on Whirleybirds and Russ Conway on I Spy) plays buffalo hunter Ben Spadden. Ned Glass (see "Crowbait Bob" above) plays his subservient colleague Ritchie. H.M. Wynant (Frosty on Batman and Ed Chapman on Dallas) plays cowboy Jim Cornet. Gage Clarke (see "Belle's Back" above) plays the circuit judge.

Season 6, Episode 9, "The Badge": John Dehner (Duke Williams on The Roaring '20's, Commodore Cecil Wyntoon on The Baileys of Balboa, Morgan Starr on The Virginian, Cyril Bennett on The Doris Day Show, Dr. Charles Cleveland Claver on The New Temperatures Rising Show, Barrett Fears on Big Hawaii, Marshal Edge Troy on Young Maverick, Lt. Joseph Broggi on Enos, Hadden Marshall on Bare Essence, and Billy Joe Erskine on The Colbys) plays bank robber Rack. Conlan Carter (shown on the left, played C.E. Caruthers on The Law and Mr. Jones and Doc on Combat!) plays his accomplice Augie. Harry Swoger (see "Colleen So Green" above) plays store owner Ike. 

Season 6, Episode 10, "Distant Drummer": Jack Grinnage (appeared in Rebel Without a Cause, King Creole, and Wolf Larsen and played Ron Updyke on Kolchak: The Night Stalker) plays drummer boy Raffie Bly. Bruce Gordon (Commander Matson on Behind Closed Doors, Frank Nitti on The Untouchables, and Gus Chernak on Peyton Place) plays bullying transporter Sloat. Phil Chambers (Sgt Myles Magruder on The Gray Ghost and Jed Ransom on Lassie) plays passerby Hugo.

Season 6, Episode 11, "Ben Tolliver's Stud": John Lupton (Tom Jeffords on Broken Arrow and Frank on Never Too Young) plays ranch-hand Ben Tolliver. Roy Barcroft (see "Say Uncle" above) plays his employer Jake Creed. Hank Patterson (see "Crowbait Bob" above) returns as blacksmith Carl Miller. 

Season 6, Episode 12, "No Chip": John Hoyt (starred in My Favorite Brunette, The Lady Gambles, and Blackboard Jungle and played Grandpa Stanley Kanisky on Gimme a Break!) plays hard-edge homesteader Jeff Mossman. Leo Gordon (Big Mike McComb on Maverick) plays cattle rancher Hutch Dolan. Mark Allen (Matt Kissel on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters and Sam Evans on Dark Shadows) plays his brother Grant. Guy Stockwell (Chris Parker on Adventures in Paradise) plays his brother Lee. 

Season 6, Episode 13, "The Wake": Denver Pyle (played Ben Thompson on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Grandpa Tarleton on Tammy, Briscoe Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, Buck Webb on The Doris Day Show, Mad Jack on The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard) plays runaway husband Gus Mather. Anne Seymour (shown on the right, appeared in All the King's Men, The Gift of Love, The Subterraneans, and Fitzwilly and played Lucia Garrett on Empire and Beatrice Hewitt on General Hospital) plays his wife Mrs. Boggs. Michael Hinn (Luke Cummings on Boots and Saddles) plays scout Joe Brant.

Season 6, Episode 14, "The Cook": Guy Stockwell (see "No Chip" above) plays itinerant cook Sandy King. Tom Greenway (Sheriff Jack Bronson on State Trooper) plays rancher Gus Strayhorn. Sue Randall (Miss Alice Landers on Leave It to Beaver) plays his daughter Effie. Ken Mayer (Maj. Robbie Robertson on Space Patrol) plays drunk trapper Ed Fisher. Harry Swoger (see "Colleen So Green" above) plays restaurant owner Hank Green. John Pickard (see "Kitty's Killing" above) plays trail boss Jack Purdy. John Milford (Ike Clanton on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Cpl. Benjamin Kagey on The Lieutenant, Det. Lt. Paul Hewitt on The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, and Capt. Dempsey on Enos) plays Texas Ranger Joe Grisim.

Season 6, Episode 15, "Old Fool": Buddy Ebsen (shown on the left, played Sgt. Hunk Marriner on Northwest Passage, Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, Barnaby Jones on Barnaby Jones, and Roy Houston on Matt Houston) plays homesteader Hannibal Bass. Hope Summers (Hattie Denton on The Rifleman and Clara Edwards on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry, R.F.D.) plays his wife Della. Linda Watkins (Robin Crosley on One Life to Live) plays pretty widow Elsie Hedgepeth. Hampton Fancher (Deputy Lon Gillis on Black Saddle and co-wrote the screenplay and was executive producer on Blade Runner) plays her son Dunc. 

Season 6, Episode 16, "Brother Love": Jack Grinnage (see "Distant Drummer" above) plays store clerk Gus Blake. Lurene Tuttle (starred in Ma Barker's Killer Brood, Psycho, and all three Walking Tall films and played Doris Dunston on Father of the Bride and Hannah Yarby on Julia) plays single mother Mrs. Cumbers. Gene Lyons (Commander Dennis Randall on Ironside) plays her son Frank. Kevin Hagen (John Colton on Yancy Derringer, Inspector Dobbs Kobick on Land of the Giants, and Dr. Hiram Baker on Little House on the Prairie) plays her son Nate.