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Whatever Happened to Gunsmoke’s Doc Adams?

Milburn Stone
Milburn Stone via Annie Joseph You Tube Image

Wise. Grumpy. Kind hearted. And rubbing that chin while giving Festus a hard time.

That, and more, was ol’ Doc Adams in Dodge on television’s longest running western ‘Gunsmoke‘.

If Doc seemed made for the role of a small town man, it’s because that’s where he came from. Doc was, in reality, actor Milburn Stone and he did indeed come from a small town, Burrton, Kansas. With a population of less than 1,000, I’m sure that helped him develop the character that we all loved on ‘Gunsmoke’.

Stone came out to Los Angeles in the 1930’s to begin his acting career. You might see him pop up in movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s, as he had many roles, mostly minor, in film. But it was in 1955 that he landed the role that would make him a television legend.

‘Gunsmoke’ had been a huge radio hit before it moved to the small screen. But interestingly, Stone was not the radio Doc Adams. Nope, but you know the man that was. On radio, ‘Doc’ was played by an actor named Howard McNear. You know him as another classic television character, the beloved Floyd the Barber from the Andy Griffith Show.

But on TV’s ‘Gunsmoke’, it was Milburn Stone that assumed the role of Doc in 1955, and he was ‘Doc’ until the historic western ended in 1975.

It was in March of 1971 that Stone had heart bypass surgery and he passed away in 1980 from a heart attack at the age of 75.

Oh, and a final trivia fact: You’re familiar with his niece, too. Remember Larry Mondello’s mom on ‘Leave It To Beaver’? That same woman played Aunt Harriet on the 1960’s ‘Batman’ series. And she, Madge Blake, was Milburn Stone’s niece.

Now, let’s check in with Doc and Chester. Great memories.

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