Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gunsmoke: Turkey Shoot

Gunsmoke is one of those long-running classic Old-Time Radio shows that everyone knows and remembers. It's also one that is still respected for its high values, in all aspects. Gunsmoke first aired on the CBS network on April 26, 1952, billed as the first adult western. It was set in Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870's.

The main character, Matt Dillon, was played by William Conrad. On August 6, 1951, William Conrad played the lead in a show entitled "Pagosa" in the series Romance, where he played the part of a reluctant sheriff in a tough Western town. Although not a true audition, Conrad's character role is very close the that of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. It was one of the "stepping stones" toward the production of Gunsmoke.

Other regular characters were Chester Proudfoot, played by Parley Baer; Kitty, played by Georgia Ellis; and Doc Adams, played by Howard McNear.

The series featured top-notch acting and well-developed scripts that set it apart from many other shows, not only Westerns; however, it was the sound effects that stood out the most. Listen carefully and one can hear many levels of sound that really helps transport the listener back to the old west.

Besides the US version, there was an Austrailian production of Gunsmoke. It began sometime in 1955, transcribed under the Artransa label, and aired Mondays at 7:00 PM on the Macquarie network. It is not known how many shows aired or how long the series ran.

Not long after the radio show began, there was talk of adapting it to television. The TV series ran from September 10, 1955, to March 31, 1975, on CBS with 635 total episodes. The first twelve seasons aired Saturdays at 10:00, seasons thirteen through sixteen aired Mondays at 7:30 and the last four seasons aired Mondays at 8:00. It is the longest running, prime time series of the 20th century.

JOHN WAYNE introducing the first episode of 'GUNSMOKE' (September 1955)

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