About that time Bette Davis and Amanda Blake got into a fake fight on camera

Oh, how Miss Kitty's fur would fly!

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Bette Davis rarely appeared on television, so when she did, it was something special. When she appeared on Gunsmoke in 1966, Amanda Blake, who played the role of Miss Kitty Russell, couldn't offer Davis enough praise. 

Even after a big brawl broke out between Blake's character and Davis's character, she couldn't help but give praise to the punches thrown. 

In the episode "The Jailer," Davis played the part of a bitter, old woman who held Marshal Matt Dillon and Kitty Russell captive. 

"We have an awful scrap in the TV play, and believe me, Bette unleashes a series of slaps that send my head reeling," Blake said in a 1966 interview with The Boston Globe. "I can truthfully say this one of the most dramatic moments in the 11-year history of the series."

Davis played the role of Ms. Ella Stone in the episode. Not only does her character kidnap Gunsmoke's two leading stars, but she also plans the execution of Marshal Matt Dillon after her own husband was executed.

The vengeful character only made one appearance in the Western, but the episode quickly became a fan-favorite. 

"The Davis magic electrifies nearly every scene," Blake said. "When Mrs. Stone finds me trying to escape, fireworks begin."

Although Davis had appeared in a few Westerns before Gunsmoke, and could be seen all over TV and film, Gunsmoke provided Davis with a vehicle to one of her scrappiest fights on TV. 

Whether she was fighting Marshal Matt Dillon or Kitty Russell, having Davis in Dodge City was something special. 

"We both were pretty well exhausted after this battling session but only the best shots were used for the final film," Blake said. "Counting rehearsals, establishing shots, and closeups, we both dealt eachother two or three dozen whacks."

"When we finished the scraping scene we were breathless," Blake continued. "Off camera, simultaneously we embraced and laughed tearfully over a scene well done. For the moment, it was a mutual admiration session. By the time the play had finished, we had become best of friends."

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METVER2024 4 months ago
I enjoy watching "Gunsmoke," and I especially like this story about Bette Davis and Amanda Blake. When you have a story like this, it would be nice if you could let us know when that episode will be on.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
That's AWESOME! Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
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