If you heard actress Amanda Blake talk on Gunsmoke, then you knew that she had a pretty deep voice. Somehow, they got her to sing.
No, it was not on the show. But there was a time when Blake, Milburn Stone, and Dennis Weaver would make appearances as a group. Oh, this is a pretty cool story and we get some help from GunsmokeNet.com to talk about it.
For those that don’t know, Blake played Dodge City barkeeper Miss Kitty. Stone played Doc Adams, while Weaver played Chester Goode on the CBS Western drama.
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Thanks to his experience in the old theatrical world of Vaudeville, Stone had some tricks up his sleeve. One of them did work to convince Blake that she could sing.
OK, so how do you do this? They had a ballad, a real sultry one, written for Blake called “The Long Branch Blues.” Blake would really howl in protest, and she was heard from wherever they were all the way to Dodge City. It was something to behold.
Why this song? Well, it took advantage of Blake’s low-octave voice and also put a light on Kitty’s relationship with Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness. No, Arness never was part of this troupe as he would rather simply spend time with his family and life away from Gunsmoke.
Blake Found That She Could Sing Harmony, Counterpoint Thanks to Stone
“I thought they were out of their minds,” Blake said in this article. “But the funny thing is, now I sing harmony
Let’s let Stone explain how it all worked out, well, eventually. “We used the old Vaudeville technique of just trying things out,” he said. “And we made plenty of mistakes.”
Yet from those mistakes came something quite amazing. These three actors would go on the road and let people see them. Gunsmoke viewers would go to county fairs or even Western-themed concerts. This would be where Blake, Stone, and Weaver would use their talents together and put on a show.
Fans loved it. They got a chance to connect with their TV favorites and get photos or autographs. Remember, this was back in a decade or day without any social media or smartphones.
But Gunsmoke had an audience of millions of fans. Love for many might have started back in its radio days with Wiliam Conrad as Matt Dillon and Howard McNear as Doc Adams. Yes, the same McNear that played Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show. The show was moved to TV in 1955 and was a mainstay for the CBS primetime lineup.