Exact Answer: 20 years
Gunsmoke was an American television western that ran for 20 seasons on CBS from 1955 to 1975, making it the longest-running prime-time television western in history. From 1957 through 1961, the series was the highest-rated television show, and it maintained high ratings throughout its duration.
How Long Did Gunsmoke Run?
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Gunsmoke was a radio show that ran on CBS from 1952 to 1954 and was set in Kansas in the 1890s. The television series, like the radio version, focused on Matt Dillon’s character (played by James Arness).
“Gunsmoke” was developed by writer John Meston and producer Norman MacDonnell that debuted on CBS in 1952. Meston’s radio writings were adapted into several of the early television programs. The radio program lasted more than 400 episodes, and it was broadcast live until 1961.
The show was called “Gun Law” when it was first broadcast in the United Kingdom. This necessitated a re-shoot of the opening title sequence. Due to his comparable height and physique, comedy writer Dick Vosburgh was chosen as a stand-in for James Arness.
Marshal Matt Dillon is in command of Dodge City, a lawless town in the old west. Cattle stealing, gun battles, bar fights, protection rackets, and property fraud are all difficulties he deals with daily. In such circumstances, strong judgment and courageous acts are required, both of which Marshal Dillon possesses in spades.
From 1957 until 1961, Gunsmoke was the most popular television show. When the show transitioned to an hour-long format, the numbers began to fall. The show was considered for cancellation by CBS in 1967. However, the show was renewed for another eight years.
Why Did Gunsmoke Run For So Long?
Gunsmoke is in a class by itself because of a variety of reasons. It had the greatest industry to offer in every way. They were the greatest in the world, from actors to writers, directors, and technical crew. It was also popular because of its principles. It depicted good vs evil, with good emerging victorious at the end. However, this is not always the case. It was sometimes necessary for the entire community to band together and work together.
CBS attempted to cancel the show, but the public outcry was so strong that the network was forced to renew it. The major reason for the show’s unexpected cancellation was because CBS was never a fan of it. Even though Gunsmoke was the most popular show on television from 1957 to 1961, CBS wanted it to be canceled.
With 20 seasons, Gunsmoke holds the record for the most seasons of any scripted prime-time drama on American television. Law & Order (1990) was a close second, but Law & Order: Special Victims Unit just broke the record (1999).
Milburn Stone was allowed to pick Doc’s first name after sixteen seasons. Galen was the surname of an ancient Greek physician and medical scholar, and Stone picked it.
From 1955 until 1975, only two actors appeared on the show. You’re probably familiar with the characters if you watched the program during its original run or in reruns. It was the primary character, Marshall Matt Dillon, and Doc Adams. In Dodge City, they were a staple.
“Gunsmoke” was revived in 1987 for the TV movie “Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge,” in which Matt Dillon returns from retirement when an old rival seeks revenge and kidnaps Miss Kitty. “Gunsmoke” was relaunched as a TV movie series as a result of its popularity.
The cast of the broadcast version is very different from the cast of the TV version. Marshal Matt Dillon is played by William Conrad, Miss Kitty Russell is played by Georgia Ellis, Adams is played by Howard McNeill, and Chester is played by Pally Bell. Many believed that, except Conrad, the radio actors would reprise their parts in the TV adaptation.
Over two decades, Gunsmoke, a television western set in Dodge City, Kansas, aired. It went on to become the twentieth century’s longest-running live-action drama series. The series takes place in a semi-arid, hilly/mountainous environment.
Filmcrafters at the Producers Studio initially developed it for CBS. It was produced by CBS in collaboration with The Arness Company beginning in 1970. CBS Films originally syndicated the show, which was then picked up by Viacom, which is now Paramount Television.