As of 2015, Gunsmoke cast members James Arness, Dennis Weaver and Amanda Blake have died. Respectively, these actors starred as the characters Matt Dillon, Chester Goode and Kitty Russell. Cast members Milburn Stone, Glenn Strange and Ken Curtis have also died.
Of the regular "Gunsmoke" cast members, only Burt Reynolds, Buck Taylor and Roger Ewing survive. In 1962, Reynolds first appeared on Gunsmoke as Quint Asper, a blacksmith of mixed ethnicity who regularly assisted Sheriff Matt Dillon in his duties. Reynolds stayed with the show for a total of three seasons.
Running for 20 seasons and airing 635 episodes, "Gunsmoke" is the longest running live-action drama in U.S television history. CBS produced new episodes from 1955 through 1975, and the show proved popular in syndicated reruns. In 1987, many original "Gunsmoke" cast members reunited to appear in "Gunsmoke: Return To Dodge," a made-for-television movie. By that time, Milburn Stone had passed away, and CBS didn't recast his character, Doc. Four more "Gunsmoke" television movies aired in the 1990s.
"Gunsmoke" debuted as a radio serial in 1952. In its early years, the radio series was notable for its dark tone, although it gradually adopted the lighter, folksier feel evident in the TV series.