Does this scene prove that Matt and Kitty did in fact share a kiss on Gunsmoke?
Despite the wishes of many fans, Dodge City’s most obvious couple never officially got together.
Gunsmoke was many things to many people. It was a look at the triumphs and trials of the American frontier. It was an action-packed series full of shootouts and fistfights. It was both dramatic and raw as well as hilarious and eccentric. It was also one of the most romantic shows on TV without ever revealing whether its star-crossed lovers were actually a couple.
Saloon owner Kitty Russell and U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon had immediate chemistry from the start. The tension every time their eyes met in those early seasons seemed to forecast many romantic storylines to come. But those swoon-worthy episodes never materialized.
Instead, the show kept the audience enthralled, if also a little frustrated, with coy flirting and subtle body language. For almost twenty years!
Gunsmoke famously never featured a kiss between what would be the obvious romantic leads on any other show. Other characters commented on the nature of Matt and Kitty’s relationship, seemingly implying they were in love, but there was a severe lack of physical affection shown between the two – even by Sixties TV standards.
However, eagle-eyed viewers (or perhaps wishful thinkers) will know that the first episode of season 11 provides not only some of the clearest evidence of feelings between Matt and Kitty but also a loving embrace and even a potential kiss.
What would bring out such emotions to the usually stoic streets of Dodge? Marshal Dillon almost dying at the hands of a large horde of outlaws, of course. Matt suffering near-death experiences was a relatively common part of the series, but the events surrounding his presumed-fatal gunshot wounds in “Seven Hours to Dawn” play out in a unique way.
Doc Adams tells the gang’s leader, Mace Gore, played by a calculating John Drew Barrymore, that the Marshal is dead, even though he’s still hanging on by a thread. Kitty is distraught when she hears the news, so much so that even her nefarious tormentor mentions that she and Matt must have been more than friends.
When she finally sees Matt alive at the end of the episode, she runs to him like any romantic partner would. Doc Adams mentions the best thing for Matt now is lots of care and attention, then conveniently leaves them alone. Kitty smiles and says “I’ll just see what I can do about that,” before hugging Matt and… wait for it… drumroll… appearing to, perhaps, maybe, plant a kiss on his cheek.
Not exactly the kiss fans were no doubt hoping for, but compared to most of the other signs of affection seen on the series, it’s practically a full-on smooch!
Do you remember any other rare romantic moments from Gunsmoke?