Gunsmoke's Amanda Blake proved she could do anything on her own
In 1961, Amanda Blake really said ''I don't need men.''
Amanda Blake played the role of Kitty Russell on Gunsmoke, the longest-running Western in TV history, for a total of 569 episodes. Her character of Miss Kitty is part of the reason the show was so successful.
In a 1961 interview with The Vancouver Sun, Blake talked about her journey to become an actress.
"I very early decided what I wanted most was to become an actress, a fine actress, a good actress, to play different parts in different worlds," she said. "I hardly ever thought of a marriage and a husband and children."
After Blake graduated high school, her parents encouraged her to stop pursuing acting, but Blake started the grind of building a name for herself. Soon, she found herself getting two of her options picked up by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Shortly after her options were picked up, a policy of retrenchment was ordered and Blake was dropped.
"We tried at that point to get Amanda to give up her career, to find a nice young man and settle down and make us grandparents," Blake's mother said. "But no, she said acting was in her blood, that acting was her life... She's dedicated to her career with a kind of fanaticism which is difficult for us to understand. But that's the fact, and we recognize it. Marriage has just no place in her present plan of progress."
Although Blake wasn't looking for that special someone at this time, she was married twice prior to this interview in 1961. Being married twice made Blake both a little wiser, and even more dedicated to her career.
"I think that I used marriage as an escape mechanism, an escape from frustration, born of the fact that I wasn't working as an actress," she said. "I know now that I cannot mix marriage with a career, because to me the career comes first. And that's not fair to any husband, so I live alone."
Blake had to deal with a lot of pressure from the public, and some criticized her choice to stay single in Hollywood. Many people even asked the actress how she could "live a manless life."
"Well, it's not manless at all," she said. "I work all day with James Arness and Milburn Stone and Dennis Weaver and a whole crew of grips and prop men. I have men around me all the time."
"It may sound unfeminine, but I don't need a husband right now," she said. "When a little girl recognizes me in the street and asks for my autograph, even today after six years of being on the show, I get a bigger thrill out of that than when a man says 'Darling, you look lovely.'"
Man or no man, Blake was doing just fine on her own.
"I've become a successful actress, and I made it the hard way," she said. "No one gave me anything in this business except my start at Metro. I struggled the whole way. You know how I got my start on Gunsmoke? I insisted upon it."
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And that one never told her he was HIV-positive.