Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hats off to Marshal Dillon

His name was James Arness, but most of us baby boomers (and our parents) knew him as the larger-than-life Marshal Matt Dillon of the long-running TV western "Gunsmoke."

The 6-foot-7 inch Arness died a few days ago at the age of 88, but his legacy of no nonsense toughness will last for many years. Scan the channels and you'll probably find a re-run of "Gunsmoke."

The show had a strong following for 20 years (an eternity on TV), finally signing off in 1975.

Who can ever forget the towering Marshal Dillon? The marshal, with his trusted sidekick and stiff-legged deputy Chester Goode (played by Dennis Weaver), maintained peace and order in wild, wicked Dodge City, Kan. Other regulars on the show were Miss Kitty Russell (played by Amanda Blake), who managed the Long Branch Saloon (where the marshal hung out and sipped cool ones), and spunky, wise old Doc Adams (Milburn Stone).

In recent years, Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty were memorialized in Toby Keith's hit song "I Should've Been A Cowboy."

Here are a few lyrics from that blockbuster tune:

I bet you've never heard ole Marshall Dillion say
Miss Kitty have you ever thought of running away
Settling down will you marry me
If I asked you twice and begged you pretty please
She'd of said Yes in a New York minute
They never tied the knot
His heart wasn't in it
Stole a kiss as he road away
He never hung his hat up at Kitty's place

Want to hear the song and re-live a bit of Marshal Dillon lore?

Turn your sound up and click here.

1 comment:

journalismguy said...

A friend in the mountains of N.C. shared this comment with me in an email after she read my blog post about Marshal Dillon.

(She writes a folksy, old-timey column for a community newspaper):

Hit made me sad when my favrite movie cowboy rid off into the sunset last week. I felt like I knowed Jim Arness (Marshall Matt Dillion) personally ater watching him nigh onto fifty years on Gunsmoke.

Still watch hit on the Western channel. Started watching hit on a black and white TV when Sparklingbird wuz the only channel we could git on the TV antennuh. I reckon all uv them has crossed over Jerden’s chilly waters now: Festus, Doc Adams, Miss Kitty and Chester.

That Festus wuz a site and had the purtiest singing voice. Sung with Sons uv the Pine Ears. And I jist loved to see that spirited Buckskin hoss that Marshall Dillion rid. Hit wuz bound to be moren one but they all looked the same. I jist love hosses and mules. I wuz talking to Linda King at the School Board office and noticed all the hosses on her walls.

I axed had she hyerd how people will breathe in a hoss’s nostrils to bond with’em and cam’em down. She said her late husband wuz a hoss trainer and did hit.

The Native Americans wuz the fust’uns to do this and they wuz better hossmen than even the US Calvry.

Abody don’t jist grab a hoss and blow in hits nostrils. You pet and gentle’em first. I don’t reckon Uncle Wess Burleson tried that. He carried the mail on hossback up Roaring Creek frum the Senia Post Office to the Valley Post Office. One day on his mail run Old Pearlie throwed him. Mailbags, money, and all landed in the creek. Didn’t wound nothing on Uncle Wess but his dignity. I allow that Uncle Mose McKinney musta knowed the breathing in the nostrils thing. He allus rid a big white stud hoss named Tony and they appeared to be perfeckly bonded.

Speaking uv that TV antennah made me recolleck this preacher we had away back yander who thought mite nigh ever thing wuz a sin. He preached agin TV something fyearce. Said abody could tell where the Devil lived, you could see his tail (the antennah) arunning out the house top.