Hard to believe, but it was 64 years ago on this date in 1955 that the television western "Gunsmoke" debuted. It had already been on radio since 1952. You want to talk quality drama? "Gunsmoke", to this day, remains the longest-running live-action prime time series on American TV. The series ran for 20 years, from 1955-1975, with a whopping 635 episodes! The only American TV show to ever surpass that(in terms of scripted episodes)is the animated "The Simpsons", which is still going strong after 30 years!

"Gunsmoke" centered around the people of Dodge City, Kansas during the American West, specifically on Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness(older brother of another fine TV and movie actor, Peter Graves of "Mission: Impossible" fame). Other main characters included Miss Kitty(Amanda Blake), Chester Goode(Dennis Weaver, TV's "McCloud"), "Doc" Adams(Milburn Stone), and Festus(Ken Curtis). The series had many recurring characters, though, including Burt Reynolds as Quint Asper.

Burt Reynolds was just one of many actors who, although not famous at the time, went on to become big stars. If you're like me and love seeing actors in smaller roles before they became famous, do yourself a favor. If you ever get the chance, binge-watch some "Gunsmoke" episodes for a veritable "Who's Who of Hollywood".

The roll-call includes names such as: Claude Akins, Jack Albertson, Ed Asner, Ned Beatty, Ed Begley, Ralph Bellamy, Bruce Boxleitner, Beau Bridges, Charles Bronson, Ellen Burstyn, Gary Busey, Chuck Connors, Mike Connors, Robert Culp, Bette Davis, Bruce Dern, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Eden, Sam Elliot, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Dennis Hopper, Clint AND Ron Howard, George Kennedy, Jack Klugman, Ted Knight, Diane Ladd, Martin Landau, Cloris Leachman....See what I mean? And I'm only halfway through the alphabet!

A truly great television drama, that also just happened to be a western, "Gunsmoke" was part of the "Golden Age of Television" and deserves all the accolades it garnered during it's 20-year run. A lot of today's TV shows may not be around were it not for Marshal Dillon and "Gunsmoke". Happy Anniversary!

More From WUPE