In any event, Curtis several movies with Guinn “Big Boy” Williams as his sidekick. It was while doing “Ripcord” that Curtis accepted a guest role on “Gunsmoke” in a story about the backwoods Haggen family. And it was in a 1956 Ford film, “The Searchers,” that part of the Festus Haggen character was born. I can have fun with Festus Haggen, but playing Jim Buckley on ‘Ripcord’ got to be a drag.”, After "Gunsmoke," Curtis had guest roles in several prime time series before becoming a regular on "The Yellow Rose," a contemporary Western soap opera that starred Sam Elliott, Cybill Shepherd and David Soul. Of course, I said yes ... and that brought about another telephone call, this one from the two-faced Curtis. He would be featured in more than 600 episodes over the next 20 years of one of television’s longest-running programs. [3][6], A statue of Ken Curtis as Festus can be found at 430 Pollasky Avenue in Clovis, California, in Fresno County in front of the Educational Employees Credit Union. For much of 1948, Curtis was a featured singer and host of the long-running country music radio program WWVA Jamboree. Growing up in Colorado as the son of a sheriff probably meant that young Curtis Wain Gates was exposed to a lot of cowboys, but every member of his family was musically inclined and he fit right in. Through his second marriage, Curtis was a son-in-law of film director John Ford. They were married until his death in 1991 and he had two step-children. That was a typical call. A lady called the Beacon Journal a few weeks ago to ask if the man who plays bristly Festus Haggen on “Gunsmoke” is the father of the actor who plays good guy Jim Buckley on the syndicated “Ripcord” series. That continued even after he began to show up regularly on TV. Ken Curtis as Festus Haggen and James Arness as Matt Dillon, 1968 Curtis was a singer before moving into acting, and combined both careers once he entered films. But the role actually allowed actor Ken Curtis to show off a lot of his talent. To easily peruse what Festus sings throughout Gunsmoke, look no further than the 1968 album, Gunsmoke’s Festus Sings ‘n Talks ’bout Dodge City ‘n Stuff. Besides engaging in the usual personal appearances most television stars undertake to promote their program, Curtis also traveled around the country performing a Western-themed stage show at fairs, rodeos, and other venues when Gunsmoke was not in production, and even for some years after the show was cancelled. After director John Ford hired the Pioneers for the western film, ″Wagon Master,″ Curtis began getting dozens of movie and TV roles. Curtis joined the cast of Gunsmoke permanently as Festus in "Prairie Wolfer", season 9 episode 16, January 18, 1964. As often as not, the characters were musicians who looked like they belonged on a dude ranch. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. He did show up in some "A" films, including "Made for Each Other" (with Carole Lombard and James Stewart in 1939), "Johnny Apollo" (with Tyrone Power and Dorothy Lamour in 1940); "Cass Timberlane" (with Spender Tracy and Lana Turner in 1947)' "Operation Pacific" (with John Wayne and Patricia Neal in 1951), and "The Long Gray Line" (with Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara in 1955). His next appearance was Season 9, episode 2, October 5, 1963 as Kyle Kelly, in "Lover Boy". “Honestly,” he said, “I had never thought of acting until Columbia called me.”. After scuffling for a few years, he managed to land a temporary job filling in for Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey’s band. Curtis said he was happy to be playing a comic relief character rather than a leading me. Born the youngest of three boys in Lamar in Prowers County in southeastern Colorado, Curtis lived his first ten years on a ranch on Muddy Creek in eastern Bent County. (These serials began to fade in 1950 as television became more and more popular. He worked in 169 movies and TV shows, but "Gunsmoke" took up more than half his working hours. A decade later, he returned to television in the short-lived Western series The Yellow Rose, in which he performed most of his scenes with Noah Beery, Jr..

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