Richard Lemon

Gunsmoke: the Last Showdown

It was a 20-year shoot-out between wrong and right that began in 1955 and spanned three wildly diverse decades. There were 30 TV Westerns when the show expanded from 30 minutes to an hour in 1961, but when it was all over, on Sept. 1, 1975, Gunsmoke was the last one left standing. Naturally, it went tall and proud: Gunsmoke, starring 6’6” James Arness as the immensely good and unwaveringly fallible Marshal Matt Dillon, was the longest-running prime-time dramatic series the country had ever seen — and by golly, son, it still is.

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