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Roger Ewing (Gunsmoke’s Thad Greenwood) – A Short Bio

February 10, 2014

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In 2011 I wrote a post called “Gunsmoke’s Last Survivors”. Those three actors are still surviving. The response to that post has been overwhelming, mostly from fans of Roger Ewing who played deputy marshal Thad Greenwood for two seasons from 10/02/1965 to 09/25/1967. So, when Michael Richardson from Kansas commented on my post called “Louie Pheeters – Gunsmoke’s Town Drunk” saying that he knows Roger and is in contact with him, I wrote Michael to find out more. What follows comes from Michael, from Roger through Michael, and from the book “Gunsmoke – A Complete History” by Barabas.  Michael Richardson comments on a fanboard at http://gunsmokegang.proboards.com/ and Roger sees everything that is posted there.

6’4″ Roger Ewing was born Jan. 12, 1942 in L.A. He went to grade school with Kathy Garver (Cissy from “Family Affair”). Since Gunsmoke and Family Affair were filmed on the same lot, Michael asked Kathy if she’d ever tried to get a part on Gunsmoke. She said that she would bring her small dog onto the set and, one day the dog got loose, found his way onto the Gunsmoke set and peed on James Arness’ boot. Kathy said that might be why she was never asked to be on Gunsmoke.

Roger’s first TV appearance was in 1964 as Marvin Grogan on ABC’s sitcom “Bewitched” in an episode entitled “The Girl Reporter”. Oddly, his first Gunsmoke appearance was not as Thad, but as Ben Lukens in an episode entitled “Song For Dying” (02/13/1965). After the departure of Burt Reynolds (Quint Asper), the producers were looking for an actor to fill that “younger actor” slot. They liked what Roger did in that first episode and asked him to appear as a regular. After Roger’s 51 episodes over two seasons (11 and 12), Gunsmoke was briefly cancelled in 1967. When it returned, Thad no longer appeared. Sometime later, the younger actor slot was filled by Buck Taylor as Newly O’Brien.

Upon his cancellation from Gunsmoke, Roger pursued his love of photography. He wanted to put show business behind him but he did appear in two films: as Donald Maxwell in the western “Smith!” (1969), and as Nelson in “Play It As It Lays” (1972). Also in 1969, Ewing was a celebrity contestant on an episode of “The Dating Game” in which the eligible bachelorette was future actress Lindsay Wagner.

Michael explains: “After Roger left acting, he took up photography full time. Later he moved to Morro Bay, CA. He ran for a city council seat there, but lost the election. He has never been married, but almost got married once. He doesn’t have any kids, but he has brothers and sisters scattered around the country that he visits regularly. He travels by train and bus. He’s not afraid of flying but the planes don’t have sufficient leg room, so he gets a sleeper car on the train. He follows California and Indiana sports teams. He had ridden horses prior to being on Gunsmoke, but he does not currently own or ride horses. He was on an episode of Rawhide (“The Calf Women” – 04/30/1965) when Clint Eastwood taught him how to fast-draw while sitting on a horse. It’s quite different than standing.”

Roger is a very private person, hasn’t made public appearances in many years, but plans to attend the 60-year reunion tentatively scheduled for September 2015 – possibly at the Autry Museum in Newhall, or a hotel in the L.A. area. It might be the last chance for fans to see both Roger Ewing and Buck Taylor together.

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Michael Richardson and Roger Ewing in Buellton, Ca. on Sept 28, 2012

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2014 12:01 AM

    I’m a new Gunsmoke fan and I love Roger as Thad Greenwood. He was such a handsome young man and a good actor. It would be great to see him at a Gunsmoke anniversary celebration!

  2. September 5, 2014 7:16 PM

    …1966’s Gunsmoke,”Honor Before Justice” saves a indian girl’s father before his is to die. Thad saves the day. Well acted…

  3. Anonymous permalink
    September 6, 2014 11:40 AM

    I wonder if Roger knows why he was not asked back after the temporary cancellation of the show?

    • Michael Richardson permalink
      December 10, 2015 10:35 PM

      Mantley called Roger in and told him that the character of Thad wasn’t working out. They never developed the character. They would not make that mistake again. In the episode The Pillagers, when Newly was introduced, he had spent time learning to be a lawyer, he had education in medicine, and he was a gunsmith as well. Once settled in Dodge he could work as a gunsmith, or help Doc, or even practice law. He did all of those things. Thad came to town looking for the men who caused his fathers death. He had been a deputy, but nothing else.

  4. September 22, 2014 4:21 PM

    Roger Ewing is a very good actor. Loved watching him on Gunsmoke. I was in high school with a young man that looked exactly like Roger Ewing. He even wanted to date me. I wish i had. This was in Anaheim, Califronia

  5. Anonymous permalink
    February 19, 2015 9:12 PM

    Roger Ewing starred as one of my favorite charactors on Gunsmoke. Thad could generally handle himself quite well around all of the others. He had a lot of qualities that I admired. I wished that he could have been on Gunsmoke for more than 2 years. In my opinion, he added a lot to the show. He and Buck Taylor both. Sean Bensman Madison, WI.

  6. rebeccas permalink
    March 11, 2015 8:50 PM

    I have often wondered about the status of Roger Ewing. He seems like a wonderful person, on Gunsmoke & in his life. Thank you for a great update….

  7. October 18, 2015 1:43 AM

    Sitting here watching Gunsmoke as we speak. It’s the one called “The Avengers” it is about Festus shooting a man who tries to hurt kitty. The family comes after Festus. It’s really good. Thad plays in it. Gunsmoke is timeless. It is golden tv. Came out in the prime of tv shows. I really don’t think their will be another show like it ever. I hope that The 60 year reunion happens.

  8. Ron scott permalink
    November 14, 2015 10:20 AM

    My wife and I love Gunsmoke. We watch it everyday. She just loves Chester. Ron & Bev Scott.

  9. Mary Jo Kent permalink
    April 1, 2016 4:17 PM

    Gunsmoke is and always has been my favorite western. I love all the characters, they make that world so real. Excellent actors and actresses!

  10. Anonymous permalink
    April 15, 2016 2:08 PM

    I just saw Roger Ewing on gunsmoke it was a great episode.

  11. Lajuana woods permalink
    April 28, 2016 5:25 PM

    I still love watching gunsmoke.

  12. Son & Beverly Kitts permalink
    June 23, 2016 5:20 PM

    Still love Gunsmoke ! Watch it ever day and record it ! Love every actors ! Go Roger !!!!don

  13. July 3, 2016 12:31 PM

    I watch Gunsmoke every day and on Saturday! When all else fails, I go to Youtube and watch any episode I want. I can’t get enough of the Gunsmoke gang!!

  14. Andrea reed permalink
    December 2, 2016 2:08 PM

    I wasn’t born when Gunsmoke was produced but as an adult i love watching the show..especially Thad (roger ewing) and i saw the episode of Bewitch that he appeared on..andrea reed Ftw..tx

  15. Karen permalink
    March 7, 2017 1:15 PM

    My dad went to college with Roger in Iowa. Roger even stayed at my grandma’s house in Cedar Rapids. My dad last saw Roger in 1967 when he stopped to visit him in California. I would be delighted to reconnect the two guys if at all possible. My dad’s name is Jim. I don’t want to leave too much personal info on open board, but would gladly speak via email with Roger or a contact of his if possible. Thank you in advance. Karen

  16. Jaye permalink
    May 16, 2017 1:45 PM

    My husband and I love Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Rawhide, and all of the old westerns. Gunsmoke is a classic. Miss Kitty was the best.

  17. Susan Darnell permalink
    May 16, 2017 2:13 PM

    Thad was my favorite on Gunsmoke. Wish he could have been on there longer.
    Love that gorgeous smile

  18. Julie permalink
    May 17, 2017 3:36 PM

    Wow, he looks so different than his gun smoke says. 🦋☮️🤠

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