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Gunsmoke

Ken Curtis

Festus Haggen

Ken Curtis, the son of a Colorado county sheriff, left his home state to seek his fortune as a singer in Los Angeles. He quickly met up with singer Jo Stafford who sent Ken's demo recording to band leader Tommy Dorsey. Dorsey signed Ken as a replacement for Frank Sinatra.

Curtis left Dorsey's band to serve in the Army during World War II. At the end of the war, he sang the tune "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" on Stafford's radio show. The song, an immediate hit, launched his career as a cowboy actor/singer. He subsequently appeared in several John Ford films, including The Searchers, How the West Was Won and Rio Grande. (Ken's ability to land such roles was probably due in part to his 1952 marriage to Ford's daughter, Barbara.)

Ken won the role of Gunsmoke deputy sheriff Festus Haggen in 1964. Although he was cast to fill the void left by the departing actor Dennis Weaver, Curtis' character proved extremely popular. As a result, he remained with the show for more than 10 years, until its cancellation in 1975.

In 1983-84, Ken appeared in another western, The Yellow Rose, with Cybill Shepherd and Sam Elliott. He then retired to Fresno, California, where he died in 1991 at age 74.

Character Bio

As Dodge City's Deputy Marshal, Festus is the pride of the Haggen family, a clan of no-account hillbillies who may have less than 32 teeth among them. Although illiterate and often incoherent, the dog-eared Deputy has earned the respect of Dodge's townspeople as a capable lawman. And he is easily the most colorful resident of this frontier town. Festus is fiercely loyal to Matt Dillon and counts Matt as one of his two best friends—the other is his mule. His meager salary as a deputy forces him to do odd jobs to make ends meet, so when he's not covering Marshal Dillon's back, he's most likely painting a barn or digging a well to earn extra income.

Festus is a bachelor, which should come as no surprise given his educational background and lack of personal hygiene. In his spare time, he can be found at the Long Branch Saloon, waiting for someone to buy him a drink.

Gunsmoke TV Schedule

Tuesday
May 31
1:00pm
Quiet Day in Dodge
Marshal Dillon has a tough day when he returns to Dodge City with a dangerous prisoner, not having slept for two days, only to face another unbelievable twenty-four hour period.
TV-G
2:00pm
Wheland's Men
An outlaw gang terrorized Dodge City duing Marshal Dillon's absence. Miss Kitty boldly challenges the leader to a poker game, with Dillon's life as the stake.
TV-G
3:00pm
Kimbro
Matt Dillon learns that the man who taught him everything he knows is now an itinerant drunk reduced to sweeping out stables for whiskey money.
TV-G
4:00pm
Jesse
Brock Peters plays an old friend of Festus' , who is now a fugitive from the law.
TV-G
Wednesday
June 1
1:00pm
Talbot
An outlaw, named Talbot, falls in love with the widow of a man he has been forced to kill in self-defense.
TV-G
2:00pm
This Golden Land
The son of a Russian immigrant, Moshe Gorofsky, is killed in a brutal hazing accident by a hooligan named Ruxton.
TV-G
3:00pm
Women For Sale Part 1
Several settlers and travelers are taken captive by a band of renegade Indians and sold to white mercenaries for slave labor and prostitution.
TV-G
4:00pm
Women for Sale Part 2
Marshal Dillon rescues Stella and Marcy from their Indian captor, and they accompany the Marshal as he tries to stop a white-slave trader from escaping to Mexico with his potential slaves.
TV-G
Thursday
June 2
1:00pm
Matt's Loves Story
A wounded Matt Dillon loses his memory and falls in love with a widow. Matt's first TV kiss, not to Miss Kitty, but to guest star Michael Learned.
TV-G
2:00pm
The Boy and the Sinner
Ron Moody guest stars as a man torn between keeping his own self-respect and the friendship of a young boy or keeping his drunken promise to help two hired gunmen.
TV-G
3:00pm
The Widowmaker
Steve Forrest guest stars as a gunfighter whose speed is legendary but who now is trying to live a quiet, nonviolent life with Teresa, the girl he loves.
TV-G
4:00pm
Kitty's Love Affair
Richard Kiley guest stars as Will Stambridge, a reluctant gunfighter with whom Kitty falls in love-after he risks his own life to save hers.
TV-G