Can you tell me about Ken Curtis, who played Festus on ‘Gunsmoke’? I saw him in a movie where he sang.
—Aleta Varela, Sonora, Calif.
Born Curtis Gates in Lamar, Colo., the son of the Bent County sheriff began his career as a singer, performing in the big bands of Tommy Dorsey and Shep Fields, and was a member of the popular Western singing group the Sons of the Pioneers from 1949 to 1953. Before joining the cast of “Gunsmoke” in 1964, he appeared in the films “Mister Roberts,” “The Wings of Eagles” and “The Alamo” and acted and sang in “The Quiet Man” and “The Searchers.” Curtis died in his sleep of a heart attack in 1991 at 74.