Gunsmoke Guests on
Ken Curtis (1916-1991)

Ken Curtis

Festus on Gunsmoke. Before Festus, he also played other roles on Gunsmoke.

Jayhawkers, January 31, 1959 Written by John Meston, Directed by Andrew McLaglen Guest Cast: Jack Elam, Ken Curtis, Chuck Hayward, Lane Bradford, Earl Parker

Change Of Heart, April 25, 1959 Written by John Meston, Directed by Andrew Mclaglen, Guest Cast: James Drury, Ken Curtis, Lucy Marlowe

The Ex-Urbanites, April 9, 1960 Written by John Meston, Directed by Andrew McLaglen, Guest Cast: Ken Curtis, Lew Brown, Robert J. Wilke

Speak Me Fair, May 7, 1960 Written by Los Crutchfield, Directed by Andrew McLaglen, Guest Cast: Douglas Kennedy, Ken Curtis, Chuck Robertson, Perry Cook

Although we know him mostly for his amazing role as Festus Haggen on the "Gunsmoke" TV series, he had a very diversified entertainment career. Tall, medium built and good-looking, we know him better as scraggly, lanky and grizzled looking with a stubbly beard, a perpetual one-eyed squint and a twangy, drawled voice that sounded almost like a jews harp. Combined with a hillbilly or western type accent he made a fascinating character actor. Born Curtis Gates on July 2, 1916 in Lamar, Colorado the son of a sheriff, he lived in a 2-room cabin for a time and also in a jail when his father served as sheriff. At 10 he was substitute jailer when his father was out of town. He attended Colorado College for a time wanting to study medicine but he was so successful as a singer-songwriter that he left college and got a job in Hollywood as staff singer for NBC radio. He sang professionally with both the Tommy Dorsey and Shep Fields' bands. He served a hitch in Army during World War II and afterwards returned to singing, for a time with Johnny Mercer on radio. The song "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" landed him parts in western films. From 1947-1952 he was an active member of "The Sons of the Pioneers" singing group. His film debut was in "Sheriff of Tombstone" (1941) as Carson's Son. His other film credits include: "Out of the Depths" (1946) as Buck Clayton; "Cowboy Blues" (1946); "Rio Grande" (1950) as Regimental Singer, Donnolly; an unbilled part in "The Quiet Man" (1952) with John Wayne, as Dermot Fahey; "Mister Roberts" (1955) as Dolan; "The Searchers" (1956) as Charlie McCorry; "The Wings of Eagles" (1957) as John Dale Price; "The Last Hurrah" (1958) as Monsignor Killian; "The Horse Soldiers" (1959) as Wilkie; "The Alamo" (1960) as Capt. Dickinson; "Cheyenne Autumn" (1964) as Joe; Disney's animated "Robin Hood" (1973) as the voice of Nutsy; "Pony Express Rider" (1976) as Jed and "Lost" (1983) his last theatrical film. We know him best for his TV work which included regular roles on "Ripcord" (1961-63) as Jim Buckley; "Gunsmoke" (1964-75) as Deputy Festus Haggen; "How the West Was Won" (1978) as Sheriff Orville Gant and "Yellow Rose" (1983-84) as Hoyt Coryell. He also appeared in mini-series and made for TV movies including: "Black Beauty" (1978) as Howard Jakes; "Once Upon a Texas Train" (1988) and "Conagher" (1991). He also guested on many TV series including: "Perry Mason"; "Wagon Train" and "Vega$." He died on April 29, 1991 in his sleep of natural causes in Fresno, California at age 74.

Many Biographies are courtesy of GREAT CHARACTER ACTORS