Ken Curtis was born Curtis Wain Gates on July 2, 1916. He was born in Lamar, Colorado, but raised in Las Animas, Colorado. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Before acting, Curtis was a singer who performed with groups including the Tommy Dorsey band and the Sons of the Pioneers.
Curtis continued to use his singing talents when he became an actor, starring in several musical westerns. He appeared in several films, including "Rio Grande," "The Searchers," "How the West Was Won," "The Young Land" and "The Giant Gila Monster." He also appeared in several television shows, including "Have Gun Will Travel" and "Perry Mason."
His most famous role was as Festus Haggen in "Gunsmoke." He appeared as a guest star on the series in other roles before debuting as Festus. He first appeared on the show in 1959, and was a cast member until the show ended in 1975.
Curtis was married twice, to Barbara Ford from 1952 until 1964 and to Torrie Ahern Connelly from 1966 until his death. His last acting role was in "Conagher," a television film that was released in 1991.Learn more about Art & Literature