Ken Curtis


Ken Curtis Famous memorial

Original Name Curtis Wain Gates
Lamar, Prowers County, Colorado, USA
Death 28 Apr 1991 (aged 74)
Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Colorado flatlands
Memorial ID 6691389 View Source

Actor. Best known for his long-running role as Festus, the cantankerous deputy in the long-running TV series "Gunsmoke". Born Curtis Wane Gates in Lamar, Colorado to Dan Gates and Millie Sneed Gates. His father was Sheriff of Las Animas, Colorado. He worked at the town jail and played the saxophone in high school. He served in the Army during World War II. He attended Colorado College for a time wanting to study medicine but was so successful as a singer-songwriter that he left college and got a job in Los Angeles in 1938 as a singer on NBC Radio. He was a vocalist in the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. He entered films in the late 1940s in a series of low-budget westerns for Columbia Pictures. He then joined the singing group "Sons of the Pioneers." They did the soundtrack of John Ford's 1950 movie, "Wagonmaster." Curtis became a stock player with Ward Bond, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey in the Ford Production Company. At the time, he was married to Ford's daughter, Barbara. His film debut was in "Sheriff of Tombstone" (1941). His other film credits include: "Out of the Depths" (1946), "Cowboy Blues" (1946), "Rio Grande" (1950), "The Quiet Man" (1952), "Mister Roberts" (1955), "The Searchers" (1956), "The Wings of Eagles" (1957), "The Last Hurrah" (1958), "The Horse Soldiers" (1959), "The Alamo" (1960), "Cheyenne Autumn" (1964), Disney's animated "Robin Hood" (1973) as the voice of Nutsy, "Pony Express Rider" (1976), and "Lost" (1983) his last theatrical film. We know him best for his TV work which included regular roles on "Ripcord" (1961-63), "Gunsmoke" (1964-75), "How the West Was Won" (1978), and "Yellow Rose" (1983-84). He also appeared in mini-series and made for TV movies and guest starred on many TV series. He died in his sleep of natural causes in Fresno, California, at age 74.

Bio by: Jane Stacy Eubanks

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


See more Curtis memorials in:


How famous was Ken Curtis?

Current rating:

907 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: AJ
  • Added: 17 Aug 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6691389
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ken Curtis (2 Jul 1916–28 Apr 1991), Find a Grave Memorial ID 6691389, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Colorado flatlands.