Stone didn’t like James Arness for quite some time, but he wasn’t the only one who incurred his anger
Milburn Stone was one of the main staples of the Gunsmoke television series. He played the part of Doc for 20 years, so he knew this character like the back of his hand. As a result, Stone took all things Gunsmoke very seriously and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when anybody interfered with it, including colleagues. The actor once said that Dennis Weaver and Amanda Blake didn’t belong there.
Stone tried his best to stay involved in many aspects of Gunsmoke. There were many changes between the radio and television iterations, including his character’s name. The actor had the opportunity to change the name to Galen, but he also took the persona in a less dark direction.
Gunsmoke introduced several other changes over the course of its run, such as guest stars to draw more audience interest. Nevertheless, Stone disagreed with this decision and wanted them to stop bringing them onto the show. He enjoyed the ensemble that they already had and was very serious about properly maintaining focus for the show.
Stone told TV Guide that he initially had rather negative opinions of his Gunsmoke co-stars. He took the show very seriously and expected the same professionalism from the other actors. Stone didn’t like James Arness for quite some time, but he wasn’t the only one who incurred his anger. Weaver and Blake also faced negative reactions in the beginning, who played Chester and Kitty.
“My feeling was that they just didn’t belong in the business,” Stone said. “I’ve been in it all my life, and I feel that people who make a living at it, even a meager one, are the luckiest people in the world. How many people wish to God for a chance like we had? Then to see people fluff it off.”
Stone didn’t remain bitter toward his fellow Gunsmoke actors forever, or he likely wouldn’t stick around for a total of 20 years. He praised Blake for her performance as Kitty, describing her as “school-teacher sweet and dance-hall tough – a slender tight-rope!” He called her the “world’s greatest Kitty Russell.”
Further, producer John Mantley once said that the Stone and the rest of the returning Gunsmoke cast became a big, happy family. They spent incredibly long hours on the set and would boost one another’s performances, letting egos go.
Gunsmoke was partially so successful because of the chemistry that the actors managed to evolve over the course of the show. It translated into the characters in a way that viewers resonated with, although the show would ultimately meet its end at the hands of CBS. However, this business decision wasn’t only aimed at the popular Western series, as series such as Lost in Space also got the same treatment.