Milburn Stone AKA Doc from ‘Gunsmoke’ Discovered Many Medical Mistakes In Season One
Many of you will remember the iconic Western television series Gunsmoke. The series was adapted from radio to television in 1955 and ran for an astonishing 20 seasons. James Arness played the main character, Marshal Matt Dillon, but fans of the show will undoubtedly remember Dr. Galen Adams AKA “Doc” played by Milburn Stone. After appearing in all 20 seasons, Stone became quite knowledgable of medical terminology and practice. But only after some mishaps set the stage in the show’s first season.
As reported by MeTV, Stone delivered lines in a Season One episode relating to components of the human bloodstream. However, the instance being described actually had nothing to do with the human bloodstream. “Within a few weeks, I recieved hundreds of letters from doctors,” Stone revealed. “It burned me up because I figured the writer had researched the darned thing. As it turned out, he hadn’t.”
This led Stone down a path researching all of the medical terminology his character would recite in the show. Stone ended up purchasing anatomy textbooks, a medical glossary, surgery textbooks, and other reading material to aid him in his learning. The more he learned, the more mistakes he would identify (and correct) in the script.
In May of 1963, Stone was invited as a guest of honor to a cocktail party hosted by the Board of Medical Examiners of Fort Smith, Arkansas. After discussing many medical topics with Stone during those few hours, the members were so impressed with his medical knowledge that they made him an honorary member of the Board.
Over the years, Stone received countless letters from fans asking for his medical advice. His response? That they better hurry and make an appointment with a real doctor. I love that Stone took it upon himself as an actor to research the complex topics his character was discussing and involved in. His dedication definitely contributed to the show’s authenticity – and immense popularity!