One man appeared in nearly 200 Gunsmoke episodes but was only credited once

He’s also in one of the many openings used for the long-running series.

A list of Gunsmoke cast members in order of how many episodes they appeared in would start predictably enough. James Arness, who lead the series as Marshall Matt Dillon, was in all 635 episodes.

Regular ensemble members Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Kurtis and Dennis Weaver fill out the rest of the top five. They all appeared in over 300 episodes except for Weaver, who was in a mere 290.

After Weaver comes Glenn Strange, who played Sam, the bartender of The Long Branch saloon, in 239 episodes. But after Strange, things get, well… interesting.

The next person, appearing in 198 episodes between 1957 and 1975, is Fred McDougall. Even the most diehard Gunsmoke fan could be forgiven for not recognizing the name. While he was a regular presence on the show, it was mostly in the background.

The majority of McDougall’s roles are labeled “townsman” or “cowhand,” and sometimes just “Fred.” He was never credited for any of these roles. Most often, he can be seen sporting a mustache as a bartender. Other times, sans mustache, he is a wagon driver. Amanda calls him "Freddy" as he tends bar in "I Call Him Wonder" while Matt Dillon also calls him Freddy as he drives the stage in "Cotter's Girl," which you can see in the middle and on the right here. (On the left, he is driving a wagon in "Collie's Free.")

The one time he did receive credit for his work on the show was, ironically, in “Long Hours, Short Pay.” He was credited as “Tracker” in that 1961 episode. In fact, that one episode of Gunsmoke is the only official credit McDougall ever received despite a two-decade-plus career that included background parts on Bonanza, Wagon Train and Have Gun, Will Travel. He also performed stunts in Blazing Saddles and many other western films.

When it came time to film a slightly different intro at the beginning of season 10, Fred McDougall was the reliable choice to play the man in black facing off against Marshall Dillon.

Eagle-eyed viewers will note the street in this intro looks a little different than in previous seasons. That’s because this intro was filmed at the exterior set at CBS Studio City as opposed to the full western town at Melody Ranch where earlier opening sequences were shot.

Here’s to one of the people working behind the scenes, or behind the lead actors, to help make Gunsmoke that much better. Now that you know, keep an eye out for the same man in the background of many different episodes!

Watch Gunsmoke on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 1 PM & 1:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

14 Comments

Post a comment
DCThornton 7 days ago
CBS Studio Center, not CBS Studio City
jfms99 7 days ago
My mistake the pilot episode, "Hack Prine", with Leo Gordon was shown as episode 26. But that is Leo Gordon as the man in the opening of all those episodes.

From IMBD:

In this episode, the 26th shown but actually the pilot, the usual settings in Dodge are not the same as the ones we knew for 20 years. Matt's Marshal's office has the following noticeable differences; the side wall has a window instead of a door. The desk is a high roll-top instead of flat (and against the cell wall instead of angled towards the front door), there is no potbelly stove, the safe is against the front wall instead of the side wall and the outer door and outside front of the office are also different.Miss Kitty's Long Branch Saloon is a totally different building inside and out. The Dodge House is also a different building.
jfms99 7 days ago
Interesting that they did not name the guy in those episodes. Well that was actor Leo Gordon who was in the pilot episode of the Gunsmoke and that scene was in the show. That episode was actually shown as episode 7 even though it was the first one.
BillsDaughter 8 days ago
Why is SAVED BY THE BELL On METV? I'm 51, probably about the age of many METV viewers. Classic TV is comfortable and relaxing TV that take me back to an easier time, with lots of memories. SAVE BY THE BELL is of the wrong generation, and it stinks! I think it was on when i was in college? I hated it then. It ruins my Sunday morning. ☹😞😞
It's apparently the only E/I (govt-approved children's educational/informational) program available to the network. It's kinda sad 'cause there are reportedly a bunch of other (in someone's opinion) classic kids' shows that so qualify.
Christopher 9 days ago
Have you ever noticed in the earlier episodes during the opening shootout scene between Mat and his adversary, the other guy got off the first shot? It just goes to show, it’s not only how fast you are, but how accurate you are.
Wiseguy Christopher 9 days ago
I thought that was the point. The bad guy was faster but Matt was more accurate.
RogerBovee 9 days ago
Matt Dillon's wrist never flinches in the opening scene shootout. Did you ever shoot a 45. It will send your hand upward when fired . His gun obviously has been loaded with blanks.
Michael 9 days ago
But it was his quick-draw duel with Arness’ Dillon on a Dodge City street -- a fleeting appearance for which Ojala initially received $100 but which earned him thousands more in residuals over the years -- that he achieved a degree of small-screen immortality.

Despite Dillon’s scripted victory over the black-hatted gunslinger in the opening, Ojala earned high praise from the show’s star.

“There’s no one faster with a gun,” Arness, who received fast-draw pointers from Ojala, said in a 1959 Times story.
MarkSpeck 9 days ago
Spell the man's name right...it's Ken Curtis, with a 'C'!
Michael 9 days ago
Arvo Ojala, a legendary Hollywood quick-draw expert and gun coach who appeared as the anonymous bad guy who loses the gun duel with James Arness’ Marshal Matt Dillon in the opening of the long-running weekly TV series “Gunsmoke,” has died. He was 85.

Ojala died of natural causes July 1 at his home in Gresham, Ore., his family said.

With an ability to cock his pistol, fire and reportedly hit his target in one-sixth of a second, Ojala was the go-to guy for learning the art of the fast-draw during the heyday of TV westerns in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Washington 9 days ago
I thought it was old time silent film comedian Tom Kennedy. I think he appeared in a crowd scene on just about every TV western series filmed in the fifties and early 60s.
john 9 days ago
This i bs. The man facing Dillion at the shows opening titles is Arvo Ojala. He was the tech adviser for firearms and a stuntman. Get your s..t together.
GaPch 10 days ago
I LOVE Gunsmoke! When I was growing up, luckily the only network we got on TV was CBS & we got Gunsmoke. My daddy watched it the first time around & reruns till he passed away. He's been gone 6 yrs & I'm still watching reruns getting a whole new perspective! Love them!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?