Milburn Stone got letters from Gunsmoke fans asking for medical advice

Please do not show Milburn Stone that suspicious rash on your arm.

Milburn Stone was not the sort of man who took his character's job lightly. Even if Doc Adams was a doctor in the 1800s, that didn't mean that when medical storylines were explored in Gunsmoke, you shouldn't be providing your audience with misinformation. Stone was Doc's custodian, and he felt it was up to him to ensure that the character was being portrayed in a genuine and honest way, through and through.

You might be aware that this belief got Stone to take issue with an early Gunsmoke line that had Doc Adams providing inaccurate medical information. In an interview with The Buffalo News, Stone explained that it was letters from doctors informing him that he had been incorrect that prompted him to confront the writer who had penned the line.

After that, Stone decided to take it upon himself to do some medical knowledge of his own in order to make sure that Doc Adams was speaking nothing but the truth. Milburn studied medical textbooks, and in specific instances, even turned to his own doctor for explanations. It's no surprise that a few times after that, Stone was actually able to catch inaccurate medical information before it reached viewers' television sets, and the scripts were revised.

However, perhaps Stone actually did too good of a job convincing the Gunsmoke audience that he was a doctor, as he later found himself receiving fan mail of a completely different kind. In the same interview, Stone revealed that he'd been written letters from fans afflicted with various medical ailments, looking to him for professional guidance. 

Stone said, "Even after ten years, these letters shock me. These people honestly expect me, an actor, to cure their ailments by mail."

The actor was quick to set them straight. He said, "I always write back, 'You'd better hurry up and see a doctor. I mean a real doctor."

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2 Comments

MikefromJersey 24 days ago
The above story reminded me of when I was touring the Sherlock Holmes Museum in
London at 221 B Baker Street. It has been perfectly rendered as described in the stories,
an amazing job, it used to be part of a bank.
I noticed a little side cubicle with stacked mail on a period desk. The docent said that Holmes
gets mail from all over the world asking for help.
They send back a reply that he is too busy with other cases, but that Holmes wishes them
well, with his business card enclosed.
I asked for one of the cards, a nice memento of the trip. With the world famous Tussaud's wax museum right around the corner, it's well worth going to that area.
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