October 2015

60 Years of Gunsmoke

I want to thank the Reel Cowboys and Julie Ream and all the actors that showed up in Los Angeles at the Sportsman’s Lodge for the 60th Anniversary. They had a panel of actors that reminisced about their experiences on Gunsmoke and working with Jim. At the end of the dinner the Reel Cowboys honored Jim with their Founders Award. What a wonderful honor! There were also a lot of Jim’s fans at the dinner including a lady who flew in from Alaska with her daughter and another lady from Brooklyn. It was great to meet all the fans and hear their Gunsmoke memories. There was a silent auction and a portion of the proceeds are going to United Cerebral Palsy. Morgan Woodward was at the dinner celebrating his 90th birthday. It was great to see Angie Dickerson and have time to visit with her.

One week later I was in Dodge City Kansas with my son Jim and Ginny Fazer. We stayed at the wonderful Boot Hill B&B. This was set up by Jan Pritchard. She along with a number of her Gunsmoke friends stayed with us. Not are only are they fans but now they are friends. We got to know each and every one of them and what Gunsmoke means to them. We stayed in Dodge for 4 days and so many fans showed up telling me their stories of growing up with Gunsmoke and Jim. It brought tears to my eyes to know what an impact the show had on so many lives and now these fans are showing Gunsmoke to their children and Grandchildren. Thanks to the many actors who came all the way to Dodge to celebrate Gunsmoke 60th, even Burt Reynolds was there.

The last night in Dodge Jan gave a dinner for the fans and actors. Buck Taylor, Bruce Boxleitner, Ben Bates (Jim’s stunt man) and Jim Byrnes (one of the writers for Gunsmoke) all showed up and gave a nice talk about working with Jim. Roger Ewing (who played Thad) also was at the celebration, what a nice man. Ben Costello was the MC for the dinner and he did a great job!

Thank you Jan Pritchard, her Gunsmoke crew and The Dodge House for making the 60th Anniversary Celebration in Dodge an amazing event.

At the end of the dinner I let the fans know now when I am watching Gunsmoke every day they are all watching the show with me. It was a wonderful four days and I had a feeling that Jim was right there with us.

Janet Arness