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From: Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1998 01:01:56 EDT To: Subject: Gunsmoke web page

Dear Mr. Marks,

Having recently joined the internet, I am amazed at the labor of love people put into these web pages. Yours is just great.

My memories of Gunsmoke go back to watching reruns of the 1/2 hour show when I was five. I primarily watched them to see my father, Larry J. Blake, who appeared in several of the early ones. Matter of fact, he was in the original pilot (Hack Prine) as one of the men who pays to have Matt shot.

Two of my biggest memories:

I remember my dad was doing an episode called Help Me, Kitty. He called me from the set that night to tell me he had autograph pictures of Jim, Amanda and Ken. I was in 7th Heaven. Sadly, I only have Jim's today.

My other memory goes back a year or two earlier. I was a child actor (one of the few who hasn't robbed a 7-11 or been on Geraldo) and was doing a commerical at the KTLA TV Station in Hollywood. It was the original Warner Bros. site and by the mid-1940s was owned by Paramount. Gene Autry later bought it. Anyway, they use to film Gunsmoke on one of the stages (they had the whole interior street set).

A friend of my dad's was working on it and he came over to see me. When I heard he was on Gunsmoke, I begged, pleaded and damn near held my breath until my mom took me over to the set.

They were filming inside the Long Branch and I remember seeing Arness come out, sit down on a chair and take his boots off and put on slippers! He went over to use the phone and (according to my mom) was having a heated and explicit (i.e., lots of cursing) conversation with his agent over something. I was awe struck to see my hero (I don't recall his cursing, but I remember hearing his deep voice very loudly) and I was speechless to say anything to him. He hung up the phone and was walking away when I mustered the courage to say "Hi Matt!" He turned around and said "Hello pal!" I walked out of the stage on Cloud 999!

FYI: According to my dad, the first couple of years they shot the series at Producers Studio (corner of Bronson Ave. & Melrose), which across the street from Paramount. They had two stages and he said they shot Gunsmoke on one and Have Gun Will Travel on the other. Then they moved to KTLA and then to CBS Studio Center.

The old street is long gone. I work as a make-up artist in the film/TV industry and was shooting there in 1980 and a small portion of the back lot (the smaller street at the back, where the church was) remained. By 1988, it was a parking lot and new stages. About three years ago they tore out the old Gilligan's Island lake and the three-way house. The latter was a farm house built with three different sides. It allowed them to use it as three separate homes. They renamed a street after the series, but that is about it. Stage 3, where they had the interior street set, bears no plaque, nothing. Yet two stages away they put one up for the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Go figure!

My complients on a great web page and I' ll be back. 

Regards, Michael F. Blake