Although he began as a singer, Ken Curtis found that he preferred being an actor

Our favorite crooner, Festus Haggen!

CBS Television Distribution

Although Ken Curtis made us laugh as stinky old Festus in Gunsmoke, he wasn't just an actor. He also had a long career as an extremely talented singer, as he told The Charlotte News. "I started my career as a pop singer," Curtis said. "I've sung a lot of nights, and there were [times] I sung all night long, but I don't remember none of them."

But as he got older, Curtis began to pursue acting more and more fervently, and by the time he was cast in Gunsmoke, he had reached a level of fame many actors could only dream up.

When speaking to the Idaho State Journal, Curtis explained that while he enjoyed his time as a singer, he actually enjoyed being an actor much more. Not only did acting have the performance aspect that Curtis enjoyed about singing, but he also felt that he was simply better suited as an actor.

"I enjoyed my early years as a singer," he said. "and I still look forward to doing things like fairs. But acting just worked out better for me. It's more interesting."

Festus's service as the comic relief of Gunsmoke was something that Curtis took pride in. "I put together a lot of corn when I'm Festus," he said, "but then I guess Festus is sort of a corny character."

But as an actor, Curtis enjoyed being able to explore the many facets that made up Festus as a character, and what qualities certain characters were able to bring out in him. "Different people in each episode bring out different aspects of the Festus character," he said. "He works particularly with old people and kids. Kids are always smarter than Festus."

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2 Comments

ElizabethBoop 7 days ago
A few years ago I got to binge-watch Curtis's earlier series "Ripcord". In one episode he (along with fellow cast member Shug Fisher) join in with that week's guest star in singing a number right out of his "Sons of the Pioneers" days.
TheKodakKid 7 days ago
If anyone is wondering just how good Ken Curtis was as a singer, consider this fact. He was the singer who replaced FRANK SINATRA in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
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