There were moments in Gunsmoke's run where Amanda Blake considered retiring — here's why she stayed

Blake almost said goodbye to the well-loved character, Kitty Russell.

CBS Television Distribution

Any job is going to eat away at your time and energy, but if you're an actor, it can sometimes seem like depletion is multiplied tenfold. When Gunsmoke's Amanda Blake got married while she was still a series regular on the show, she didn't just have a full-time job as an actor anymore; she was also a wife.

Like Kitty, Blake was confident and determined, two qualities that assisted in winning her the role of Kitty Russell of Gunsmoke in the first place, as the actor explained to The Baltimore Sun.

"I was working a lot at CBS and I was on the studio lot one day and I heard some casting people talking about this new show that was going on," she said. "I knew about Gunsmoke because I'd listened to it on the radio. I went right over to see if I could audition, and believe me, nobody fell with enthusiasm." Still, Blake had her heart set on the role and wouldn't take no for an answer.

"I had to talk myself into that one. I just didn't give up." Blake added that even when she had won the role of Kitty Russell, it was never a privilege she took for granted.

"I never regretted it," she said. "I can't think of anything I'd rather have done with the last seventeen years than play Kitty Russell."

Still, the years she had spent on Gunsmoke weren't all smooth sailing. Blake revealed that there were multiple points where she considered hanging up the character and retiring from the show to spend more time with her husband, Frank Gilbert. However, Russell maintained that in the end, she always chose Gunsmoke.

"I just couldn't do it," she said. "Every new season, I say to him, 'Look, Frank, it can't last much longer. Be patient with me. It'll go off soon and then I'll stop working. I'll just do a show once in a while."

Then, Blake got honest. "I'd cry myself to sleep every night if I had to give up Kitty. I can't stand to think of it ever going off. I could do it the rest of my life."

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3 Comments

Runeshaper 1 month ago
Blake giving up Kitty would have been tough on a lot of people. I’m
Glad she stuck it out!
dm1bellamy 1 month ago
I grew up with Gunsmoke. During the fifties on Saturday night my parents would buy a six pack of RC Cola and put one for each of us in the freezer about an hour before the show. It would be perfect at showtime with mushy ice. It would be served with good potato chips. This was exciting for a 7 year old on Saturday night. Later Paladin was added just before Gunsmoke and that was an extra treat. Good shows and good memories.
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Technically she did give up Gunsmoke because Kitty WASN'T in the final season! However, she WAS in the first reboot movie!
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