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Surviving ‘Gunsmoke’ cast to reunite in Dodge City six decades after show’s start

“Gunsmoke” debuted on television in 1955. Stars of the show included James Arness as Matt Dillon; Burt Reynolds, who starred as Quint Asper, the blacksmith; Ken Curtis as Festus; Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty; and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams.
“Gunsmoke” debuted on television in 1955. Stars of the show included James Arness as Matt Dillon; Burt Reynolds, who starred as Quint Asper, the blacksmith; Ken Curtis as Festus; Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty; and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams. Courtesy of the Kansas Heritage Center

For hard-core “Gunsmoke” fans, it’s a dream come true.

Six decades after the show started, there will be a reunion of six “Gunsmoke” actors in Dodge City, including Burt Reynolds.

The actors are being brought in for Wild West Fest on Sept. 25-27. The event is hosted by the Boot Hill Casino & Resort, the Wild West Heritage Foundation and the Roundup Rodeo.

The actors include Reynolds, who portrayed blacksmith Quint Asper from 1962 to 1965; Buck Taylor, who played Deputy Newly O’Brien from 1967 to 1975; Jess Walton, who was Patricia on the series in 1973; Lane Bradbury and Merry Florene, 1965 to 1969; and Bruce Boxleitner, who played Toby Hogue in 1975. Also scheduled to attend is Jim Byrnes, a writer from 1969 to 1975.

“Gunsmoke” ran on CBS from 1955 through 1975. It was nominated for more than a dozen Emmys, including for best series.

Some of the key actors have died since the show ended, including James Arness, who starred as Matt Dillon; Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty, and Milburn Stone, who was Doc Adams. Stone was a native of Burrton and won an Emmy for the show in 1968.

“Earlier this year at the casino, we signed on Buck Taylor as our spokesperson,” said Jessi Rabe, the casino’s director of marketing. “We started brainstorming and asking who else we could bring to Dodge.

“We’ve been trying to get Burt Reynolds for awhile.”

The Wild West Fest includes “Gunsmoke Under the Stars” on the evening of Sept. 25, a showing of several episodes and video messages from some of the stars at the South Drive-In Theater; some meet-and-greet sessions including photos and autographs on Sept. 26; and the “Gunsmoke” Anniversary Banquet on Sept. 27.

The September event is somewhat reminiscent of a time in 1939 when Dodge City hosted Hollywood stars. More than two dozen actors and movie executives traveled by train to Kansas for the premiere of “Dodge City.”

The stars of the movie included Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Ann Sheridan, but other stars – such as Humphrey Bogart and Jane Wyman – came along for the ride. The star power caused Dodge City, a town of 10,000 in 1939, to reportedly swell to 160,000 or more.

For more information on next month’s event, go to DodgeCityWildWestFest.com.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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