Amanda Blake said that CBS ''never really got behind'' Gunsmoke
Blake recalled Gunsmoke's brief cancellation.
You remember the old saying: "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." If you've ever loved and lost, you know that statement is truer than you'd like it to be, but the adage doesn't just apply to people; it applies to networks too.
Gunsmoke was well-loved during its time on CBS and enjoyed success amongst critics and audiences alike. But Amanda Blake revealed that there were a few people who didn't have as much faith in Gunsmoke as the cast and crew did. Unfortunately, those people ran the network.
According to an interview with the St. Louis Dispatch, Blake stated, "I've often had the feeling, even when the show was hot as a pistol, that CBS never understood us and never realized what they had, even though it made them a fortune." She continued, "They never really got behind us."
You'd think that economic prosperity would be the only thing a network would need to have faith in a series, but for Blake, that simply wasn't the case. You might recall that Gunsmoke was momentarily canceled before CBS reversed the decision, opting instead to cancel the also popular series, Gilligan's Island.
Blake said the cancellation "almost started another American Revolution." She explained the network's reasoning behind the cancellation and stated, "The demographics weren't reading the way they were supposed to read. We were not reaching the younger audience." After the series was canceled, Blake returned to her home in Arizona, despondent at the loss. Luckily, some forces weren't willing to let Gunsmoke go down without a fight.
Blake said, "The affiliates were very powerful and threatened to boycott any program that CBS put in our time slot."
Another rumor was that the show's savior was the work of CBS head William Paley, whose wife loved Gunsmoke. According to TV Treasures: A Companion Guide to Gilligan's Island, author Sylvia Stoddard wrote, "It [Gunsmoke] had to go back on the schedule." The book stated that Paley, never a huge fan of Gilligan's Island, instigated the decision to replace the series with Gunsmoke.