7x9-inch glossy publicity photo of James Arness, used by print media to announce a new CBS television series called "Gunsmoke." Premiering September 10, 1955, the series made extensive
use of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon for location filming until the 1962 fire. Photo from an unknown newspaper archive, reused for a rerun in 1989.
Original 1955 cutline (below) reads:
STAR OF "GUNSMOKE" STARTING SEPT. 10
Intrepid Marshal Matt Dillon, portrayed by James Arness, keeps law and order in frontier Dodge City, Kan., on "Gunsmoke," the famed
CBS Radio series which bows as a television series Saturday, Sept. 10 (CBS Television, 10:00-10:30 PM, EDT).
The series will be sponsored by Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co.
At the time, Liggett & Myers was the maker of Chesterfield and L&M cigarettes.
"Gunsmoke" was the longest-running scripted primetime TV show in television history when it hung up its spurs in 1975. It all started 20 years earlier at Melody Ranch in Placerita Canyon.
Melody Ranch wasn't used exclusively during the early years of "Gunsmoke" (they also filmed at the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth and other locations for a change of scenery), but it was used frequently — from the original title sequences in 1955 until 1962 when the Longbranch Saloon and the rest of Gene Autry's Western movie town — and some of his guns — went up in smoke.
James Arness (Marshal Matt Dillon) discusses the early days in this television interview.
LW3468: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.