Home News Actor Ken Curtis, 74, in Festus on “Gunsmoke”

Actor Ken Curtis, 74, in Festus on “Gunsmoke”

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ken curtis
ken curtis

Ken Curtis, best known as Festus from “Gunsmoke,” passed away peacefully at home in his sleep Sunday at age 74.

His death was reportedly attributed to natural causes, according to A. C. Lyle, producer at Paramount Studios.

Curtis played Festus Haggin, Marshal Matt Dillon’s sidekick from 1964 until 1975 when the series ended, replacing Dennis Weaver who left after nine years to portray Chester Goode.

Mr. Curtis also appeared as a supporting cast member in classic films such as “The Searchers” and “The Quiet Man,” both featuring John Wayne.

Mr. Curtis Gates was born in Lamar, Colorado to a sheriff’s son and later worked on a jail farm as a boy. In the 1930s he made his show business debut singing with swing bands before joining Tommy Dorsey’s band when Frank Sinatra left to pursue solo stardom.

Columbia Pictures signed him as a singing cowboy after recording “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”, then joined Sons of the Pioneers along with Roy Rogers – thus beginning his western singing career.

He made several other films such as: “The Alamo”, “How the West Was Won”, Mr. Roberts” and Cheyenne Autumn.” Additionally he appeared in several television series including: Rawhide”, Perry Mason” and Have Gun, Will Travel.”

He is survived by his wife and two children.

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