Amanda Blake is best known for her role as "Miss Kitty Russell" on the long-running Western television series "Gunsmoke." Blake and her third husband, Frank Gilbert, ran one of the very first cheetah breeding programs. The cheetahs were bred in captivity.
Blake had quite the career in animal-related business apart from her acting career and the cheetah breeding. Blake formed the Arizona Animal Welfare League in 1971, which lead to the largest no-kill animal shelter in Arizona. She is also known for hosting the very first mutt dog show in 1976 in response to purebred dog shows causing the undervaluing of regular dogs.
Before pursuing an acting career, Blake worked as a telephone operator. She gained fame quickly, and her career in acting spanned from 1950 to 1989. A break from her career had to be taken in 1977; however, when she was diagnosed with oral cancer due to her heavy cigarette smoking and had to undergo surgery. After her surgery, the American Cancer Society presented her with the courage award.
Blake died on August 16, 1989, due to liver failure and CMV thought to have been caused by the AIDS virus she was rumored to have contracted from her fourth husband, Mark Spaeth.