Gunsmoke’s Last Survivors
I’ve written and illustrated a book called Melody Ranch – Gunsmokes Dodge City Before the Fire. It is now available for purchase at my website.
There’s been a lot of interest in Roger Ewing so I dug out much more info on him. See it here.
It’s been 36 years since Gunsmoke left the airwaves, but TV’s favorite western lives on in re-runs. However, most of the main characters from the show have ridden into the final sunset. At this writing, only three are still with us.
Burt Reynolds (born 02-11-1936) now 75, played half-breed blacksmith Quint Asper from 1962 to 1965. This was Reynold’s first major acting role. Milburn Stone (Doc) once told Burt Reynolds that he should quit Gunsmoke because he had a future in movies. Apparently Doc knew what he was talking about because everyone knows what Burt’s been doing since he left the show.
Roger Ewing (born 01-12-1942) now 69, played deputy Clayton Thaddeus “Thad” Greenwood for two seasons from 1965 to 1967. When Roger left Gunsmoke, he seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth. There are very few pictures of him when he was on Gunsmoke, and finding a recent one of him was almost impossible. That’s why the quality of the bottom photo of him (taken around 2008) is so poor. It was extracted from a group photo taken when he ran for the Moro Bay, California city council. He put it this way in a rare communication with one of his fans in 2012:
“It’s been 40+ years since I was last involved in ‘show biz’, and I have appreciated my anonymity all these years. I am not one to seek ‘fame & recognition’… I am a very private person and not experienced in today’s ‘world of celebrity’”.
Buck Taylor (born 05-13-1938) now 73, played gunsmith and part-time deputy Newly O’Brien from 1967 to 1975 when the show finally ended. These three guys had one thing in common… They were all cast for the purpose of bringing youth and new energy to the aging Gunsmoke series. My problem with them was that they were too “pretty” for the old west and that factor detracted from the shows believability. Buck Taylor, however, ripened with age into a guy who looks like he just rode in from a cattle drive. He never stopped acting in western films or painting watercolors depicting the old west. In 1981, Buck was inducted as a trustee in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for his role as Newly on Gunsmoke. In 2000, he was memorialized in the Dodge City “Trail of Fame”. He has received the “Golden Boot” award and the “Spirit of the West” award. He continues to make appearances at almost every western event across the country. The old west truly resides within Buck Taylor.