Gunsmoke never really explained what happened to Miss Kitty, and only said that she moved back to New Orleans when Amanda Blake decided to leave the show.
Gunsmoke was on the air for such a long time that it can sometimes be difficult to keep all of the characters and their actors straight.
Miss Kitty, who was portrayed by Amanda Blake, was one of the most memorable characters from the show, but the show never really explained what happened to her when she left at the end of the nineteenth season.
About the Gunsmoke actors
Gunsmoke remains one of longest-running programs in television history to this day. Much of the show’s popularity and longevity can be attributed to the endearing characters that were featured throughout its run.
However, since the programme was on the air for such a long time and featured such an array of series regulars and recurring special guest stars, it is often difficult to keep track of these cast members and their roles after all these years.
How was Miss Kitty written out of Gunsmoke?
One character that has stuck in the minds of Gunsmoke fans, even decades down the line, is Miss Kitty Russell.
The actress who portrayed Miss Kitty in the television version of Gunsmoke, Amanda Blake, first joined the cast in the show’s first episode, which aired all the way back in 1955.
Other characters, such as James Arness (as Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (as Doc Adams), and Dennis Weaver (as Chester Goode) were also all part of the show from the get-go.
Miss Kitty was definitely always a fan-favourite, known on the show as the quick-witted, determined, and direct Half-owner of the Long Branch Saloon and a close friend of Matt Dillon.
However, even though Miss Kitty was such an integral part of the show for 19 years, Amanda Blake decided to leave the programme in 1974, just a year before it ended for good.
Even though the character of Miss Kitty was sorely missed, and many fans were hung up on the idea of what could have become of the relationship between her and Matt Dillon for some time after she left, the show never really explained why she left, and it only ever mentioned that she had returned to New Orleans.
Instead, her character was just replaced for the last season of the programme. Fortunately, Miss Kitty did make one final appearance on one of the made-for-television Gunsmoke films, called Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge, which aired in 1985.
Thus, we do know that the Gunsmoke writers did not kill the character off in order to write her out of the series.
Who replaced Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke for the final season?
Once Amanda Blake’s version of Miss Kitty had left the cast of Gunsmoke at the end of the programme’s nineteenth season, Fran Ryan replaced her as Miss Hannah for the final season.
Fran Ryan had made a previous appearance on the show as Mrs. Keller in the seventeenth season of the show but would not return until the final season.
All in all, Fran Ryan’s character, Miss Hannah, was only featured in five episode of Gunsmoke in total. Although she also made an appearance alongside Miss Kitty in the Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge film.
Did Miss Kitty and Matt Dillon ever start a romantic relationship?
One of the things that made Miss Kitty’s character so compelling throughout the first 19 seasons of the show was her long-standing will-they- won’t-they relationship with the main character of the show, Matt Dillon.
In fact, it is one of the unanswered questions that fans of the programme ponder to this day. Unfortunately, Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty never even so much as kissed on the show.
Why did Amanda Blake decide to leave the show?
Amanda’s decision to leave Gunsmoke after 19 seasons was not without controversy, but she did try to explain to the public that she was simply tired of travelling back and forth between Phoenix, where she lived, and Hollywood, to film the show.
After 19 seasons and 425 total episodes, Blake insisted that she just no longer wanted to commit to the commute to film the show.
However, it is also likely that her declining health had an influence on her decision to leave the show so suddenly.
Blake was known for being a heavy smoker and this started to take a toll on her health to the point that she reportedly had to have surgery in 1977 as treatment for oral cancer.
Unfortunately, Blake passed away not long after her Gunsmoke appearances had run their course, in 1989 at the age of 60 years old.