James Arness claimed that Ford’s Gunsmoke injury was the “first wounding of the action actor” in his long career
Actor Harrison Ford made a handful of appearances on Western television series, including Gunsmoke. He would later become one of the highest-grossing American actors. Ford earned an Oscar nomination for his leading performance in 1985’s Witness, but his franchise involvement in Star Wars and Indiana Jones truly set him in another league. However, his long line of on-set injuries started early on in his career with incidents like the one on CBS’ Gunsmoke.
Ford appeared on Gunsmoke on two separate occasions over the course of his career. The first was playing Print in 1972 and again in 1973 as Hobey. Season 18 episode 11 was called “The Sodbusters,” which aired on Nov. 20, 1972. The story follows a farm owner named Clarabelle Callahan (Katherine Justice), who has the rights to the local water supply. Violent rancher Lamoor Underwood (Morgan Woodward) brings in a gunslinger to settle things, which sets a series of lethal events in motion. Ford played antagonist Print, who got shot twice.
He made another appearance on Gunsmoke Season 18 Episode 20, which was called “Whelan’s Men,” which aired on Feb. 5, 1973. The plot tells the story of Dan Whelan (Robert Burr) and his gang of outlaws, who have a plan to kill U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) and take over Dodge City. This time, Ford played Hobey, who faced Miss Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake) in a game of poker.
Arness wrote about his experience working with guest stars on Gunsmoke over the years in his book, James Arness: An Autobiography. He clearly remembered having the opportunity to work with Ford, who became a substantial Hollywood movie star years later. After all, he liked the idea of bringing fresh faces, like Ford, onto Gunsmoke to keep the show from growing stale. Other big names included Bette Davis, Charles Bronson, Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, and Bruce Dern.
However, Ford ultimately incurred quite an injury while filming Gunsmoke. According to Arness, the movie star “fell on his gun during shooting, and knocked out several of his teeth.” He went to the dentist, who was able to help fix the problem to make it look like nothing ever happened. It clearly worked because this was before he launched into Hollywood stardom.
Arness claimed that Ford’s Gunsmoke injury was the “first wounding of the action actor” in his long career.
Ford would continue to injure himself while filming other projects, which went far beyond his Gunsmoke appearances. According to Newsweek, he had enough injuries from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to put together a timeline of them. The actor enjoyed performing many of his own stunts, but most actors tend to leave that work to professional stuntpeople.
For example, he “bruised his ribs” and “tore his right ACL” on Raiders of the Lost Ark and fractured his ankle on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A more recent injury was on Indiana Jones 5, where Ford sustained a shoulder injury during a fight sequence.