Ken Curtis' stinky origins as Festus
Gunsmoke wasn't the first show on which Ken Curtis was smelly.
There's something to be said about a smelly ol' guy who's still an honest man. Maybe that's what continues to endure about Ken Curtis' portrayal of Festus, the fragrant good guy in Gunsmoke.
But did you know where his portrayal originated?
Believe it or not, Ken Curtis being the ripest cowboy in the West predated his role on Gunsmoke. In fact, the idea of Curtis stinking came from a scene in the classic TV Western Have Gun, Will Travel. In it, the show's main character, Paladin, tosses Curtis' character into a river.
What was Curtis' character's crime? Let's just say it was an offense of the olfactory persuasion.
When asked point blank by the Orlando Evening Star whether the previous putrid proceedings landed him his role as Festus, Curtis responded in the affirmative. "Yes, it did," Ken Curtis told the paper in '64.
"You smell like a cross between cooked cabbage and a wet airedale," said Richard Boone's Paladin in an episode of Have Gun, Will Travel.
So there you have it, folks. That's how Ken Curtis stunk his way into the hearts of millions of admirers.