Heroes: Matt Dillon Style

Any Gunsmoke fans out there?

Marshal Matt Dillon

James Arness played Matt Dillon in the longstanding TV series Gunsmoke. Marshal Matt Dillon’s larger-than-life persona kept me on the edge of the couch rooting for him. Apparently, I was one viewer among a throng who favored the Dodge City drama because Gunsmoke ran for twenty years with a whopping 635 episodes.

The appeal of an Old West lawman is no surprise. A modern day lawman had already captured my heart—my daddy, William “Bill” Gansberg. Daddy was a city policeman and later a California Highway Patrolman. The uniform and the means of transportation were different, but the ideals that made him strap on a gun and stand for justice were the same—good, out to overcome evil.

You may recognize facets of Gunsmoke characters in The Bride Wore Blue, the latest book in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

Book 3, The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

  • Sheriff’s Deputy Carter Alwyn has Marshal Matt Dillon’s chiseled good looks, integrity, compassion, and confident gait.
  • Vivian Sinclair doesn’t own a saloon, but it won’t take much stretch of your imagination to see a bit of Miss Kitty in her.
  • The wiry miner Boney Hughes definitely reflects some of Festus Haggen‘s backwoods charm.
  • Doc Susie displays the quiet conscience of Doc Adams.

Do you have a favorite character from TV westerns? Why is he or she a favorite?

Comments 9

  1. I love Gunsmoke and all the old westerns. And that’s why I write Western Historical romance. Nothing like a good western

  2. I loved Gunsmoke. James Arness was awesome and the ensemble cast of Kitty, Doc, Festus and Newly was a great combination.

    I miss the era of westerns. Bonanza was a big favorite. I adored Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright. When I’m crafting male protags in my stories, there’s usually some element of Pernell in them.

  3. I grew up watching westerns too and even though I live in New zealand my first novel, which I’m still working on, is a western. The Big Valley, High Chaparral and Alias Smith and Jones were firm favourites. I don’t remember too much about Gunsmoke, but when I started to read about your Boney Hughes, Festus came to mind!

  4. We love Gunsmoke around her and watch it all the time on our DVR. I modeled Doc Carter in my first series after Doc Adams, and the hero deputy sheriff of Spring Hope has some of Dillon’s traits too. We also watch reruns of The Virginian, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Bonanza, and BIg Valley.

  5. HI, Mona!

    I lived in Blythe, CA from 1972 to 1977 and taught driver education and driver training at Palo Verde High School there. Your “daddy” was my primary resource for clarification of the rules of the road (Ca Vehicle Code). We all attended the 1st Baptist Church there. I’ve wondered how Bill was after I left Blythe. I’d appreciate an answer in my email.

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