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Gunsmoke

Weekdays
11am/10c

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

Monday
April 27
12:38pm
The Tarnished Badge
Victor French guest-stars as Sheriff Bo Harker, a town tamer who keeps his citizens in line with fear and brutality.
TV-G
1:49pm
In Performance of Duty
Dillon is frustrated by Judge Kendall's insistence that the letter of the law be maintained and that Emmett Kaysinger and his gang, all known outlaws, be set free unless there is solid evidence to hold them.
TV-G
Tuesday
April 28
12:38pm
Island in the Desert Part 1
Strother Martin guest-stars as Ben Snow, a half-crazed desert hermit who saves Festus's life--only to force him to become a human pack animal.
TV-G
1:49pm
Island in the Desert Part 2
In the conclusion of a two-part episode, Ben Snow tries to get his long-hidden gold back to civilization to use in fighting an old enemy.
TV-G
Wednesday
April 29
12:38pm
The Colonel
Lee J. Cobb and his daughter Julie Cobb appear together for the first time when Cobb guest-stars as a once-proud military officer who is suddenly faced with a painful and unplanned reunion with his daughter.
TV-G
1:49pm
The Sharecroppers
Ann Marie Pugh is as a young lady who has her hands full trying to get her lazy family to plant a crop before their landlord runs them off the property.
TV-G