Gunsmoke's Doc Adams wanted to unretire
Golf and fishing only made Milburn Stone yearn to act again.
Retirement is a tricky thing. Many of us have bucolic visions of summer breezes and porch swings, with nothing but golf and fishing to pull us away. But the striking reality can be startling: It's really hard to do nothing! Because retirement is very different from just taking a break. We feel relief when we take a break because we know we're restoring our energy for future efforts. That's not the case for retirees though. They've got nothing but time on their hands, and sometimes they're settling into a huge deficit in energy. "Nothing" seems like an appealing thing to do, up until it's the only thing there is to do.
A perfect example of this conundrum is the retirement woes of Milburn Stone. TV Western watchers will probably best remember Stone as Gunsmoke's Doc Adams. He appeared in 605 episodes across Gunsmoke's 20-season run. For someone who'd been acting since his teen years in vaudeville, Stone could've let Gunsmoke be his swan song. In addition to Gunsmoke, Stone starred in more than one hundred motion pictures throughout his long career. But, even though Gunsmoke marked his final days in front of the camera, Stone wished it hadn't.
"I really miss Gunsmoke, and I'd dearly love to go back to work. I'm really getting bored with retirement," Stone said in a UPI newswire in 1978.
"I haven't worked since we finished shooting the series in 1974 except to take part in a Dean Martin roast of Dennis [Weaver (Deputy Chester Goode)] two years ago. Since then all I've done is take walks and get out to do some fishing on the Colorado River.
"This past year I made some great fishing trips for bass and trout. It's a wonderful thing just to be out there with a rod and reel even if I don't catch any fish."
One retirement cliche that Stone didn't like, though, was golf.
"I stopped playing golf because it was driving me crazy. I couldn't beat anyone."
While he would've liked to go back to work in the world of TV and movies, Milburn Stone just couldn't see himself relocating back to La La Land for the opportunity. The times they were a-changin', especially in 1978.
"I wouldn't want to live in Hollywood again but I'd sure like to get busy. I've had some offers for a lot of money. One of them was a movie with so much filthy dialogue I refused to do it.
"I could even get excited about doing another series, especially a property I own titled Valley Center, USA. But one of the executives I talked to said it wasn't the kind of show that would work these days. Even Gunsmoke probably couldn't get on the air. The business has changed drastically in the last few years."