James Arness revealed why Marshal Matt Dillon and Kitty never got together

Arness explained why it was for the best that the two were never officially romantically involved.

Let's be honest: Sometimes the best couples are the ones who never make it into a proper relationship. For example, feast your eyes on famed Marshal Matt Dillon and Kitty Russell, who many viewers believed were a match made in heaven, if only they could just admit it to each other (and themselves). But with 20 seasons in as many years, the two characters never graduated past the will-they-won't-they stage, if one could even call it that.

However, James Arness offered a possible explanation as to why Kitty and Matt never properly got together. In his autobiography, James Arness: An Autobiography, he acknowledged that he was aware of fans' desire to see the two in a romantic relationship. He wrote, "Over the years, fans have often asked me about my character Matt Dillon's relationship with Kitty, and why it never seemed to progress beyond the air of the romantic between us."

Arness was able to shed some light on the subject, explaining that it was actually a creative decision from the producers of Gunsmoke. He wrote, "That was the producers' decision, since going a step further would complicate matters and might even lessen the show's popularity." Arness added that the subtlety and elusiveness of Russell and Dillon's romance might actually have been better for viewers, even if they probably didn't think so. Arness said, "Our relationship was downplayed because they thought it was more titillating to leave matters to the viewers' imagination.

The love between Arness and Amanda Blake as actors, though platonic, was still evident behind the scenes of the series. Arness praised the casting of Blake as Russell and said she "was an example of the superb casting that made the program such a success." Arness also called Blake "a wonderful actress and a great friend."

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5 Comments

jmworacle 2 months ago
Sometimes it's best to leave things alone.
TheKodakKid 2 months ago
The TV version began after the radio version had been on the air for a couple of years or so. There were some differences between the two. On radio, before becoming the co-owner (with bartender Sam) of the Long Branch, Kitty was a “hostess” at The Texas Trail. Once, during an interview, the radio producer was asked about what Kitty’s job as “hostess” was exactly. The producer replied, “Kitty is exactly what you think she is. She’s someone that Matt Dillon just has to go to see from time to time.”

Matt and Kitty did date on the radio show from time to time. However, most of the time, it seemed like a very flirtatious friendship.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
I like to imagine that A) they were together and it just wasn't shown during the series or B) they did get together eventually (-:
Irish 2 months ago
I love Gunsmoke. The Matt/Kitty romance was always left to the imagination, however, when one or the other was injured or threatened in any way, the love between them couldn't be ignored. There were many episodes where Kitty was mentioned as "Matt's girl or "Matt's woman.
I loved their storyline. I would have loved to have seen them kiss on screen, but then the secrecy of the romance would have been jeopardized.
LoveMETV22 Irish 2 months ago
Kept viewers tuning in. Well not just the romance kiss part entirely, but @ the time it was probably one, and the producers of the series knew that.
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