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