Neda Loney

Written by Neda Loney

Modified & Updated: 19 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Amanda Blake, a beloved icon of the entertainment industry, captivated audiences with her mesmerizing performances and timeless beauty. Best known for her role as Miss Kitty Russell on the popular television series Gunsmoke, Blake’s talent and charisma made her a household name in the 1950s and 1960s. Although her time in the spotlight was tragically cut short, her impact on the world of entertainment continues to be felt to this day. In this article, we will delve into 24 astonishing facts about Amanda Blake, shedding light on her fascinating life and career. From her early struggles to her immense success, prepare to be amazed by the intriguing details surrounding this enigmatic celebrity. So, let’s uncover the untold stories and delve into the extraordinary life of Amanda Blake.

Key Takeaways:

  • Amanda Blake, best known as Miss Kitty Russell on Gunsmoke, was a talented actress with a passion for animal welfare and philanthropy, leaving a lasting impact on television and the world.
  • Amanda Blake’s iconic role as Miss Kitty Russell broke stereotypes and her dedication to animal welfare inspired many, showcasing her multifaceted talent and enduring influence.
Table of Contents

Amanda Blake’s Early Life

Amanda Blake was born on February 20, 1929, in Buffalo, New York. She grew up in a family of actors, which sparked her passion for performing at a young age. Her father, Jesse Neill, was a director and manager of the Buffalo Players, a prominent theatre company.

Pursuing Acting

At the age of 11, Amanda Blake made her stage debut in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” This early experience solidified her desire to pursue a career in acting. She later attended Pomona College in California, where she continued to hone her acting skills.

Amanda Blake’s Stage Career

Prior to her television success, Amanda Blake had a thriving career on stage. She performed in numerous plays, including “Jane Eyre” and “The Women,” showcasing her versatility as an actress.

Breakthrough Role in Gunsmoke

Amanda Blake’s most iconic role was that of Miss Kitty Russell on the long-running western series Gunsmoke. She portrayed the strong-willed saloon owner with grace and charm, captivating audiences for 19 seasons from 1955 to 1974.

A Beloved Character

Miss Kitty Russell became one of the most beloved characters on television during the show’s run. Her strong yet compassionate portrayal broke stereotypes and made a lasting impact on female representation in the genre.

Amanda Blake’s Business Ventures

Outside of her acting career, Amanda Blake had a keen business sense. She opened a successful art gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she showcased the works of various artists.

Amanda Blake’s Philanthropic Efforts

Amanda Blake was widely known for her dedication to animal welfare. She was a passionate advocate for the rights and well-being of animals, and her charitable efforts led to the establishment of the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge.

Amanda Blake’s Nuptials

Amanda Blake was married a total of four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce, while her fourth marriage to Frank Gilbert lasted until her tragic death.

Tragic Personal Loss

In 1969, Amanda Blake experienced immense personal grief when her third husband, Frank Gilbert, passed away. Despite the heartache, she persevered and continued to excel in her acting career.

Amanda Blake’s Television Appearances

Following the conclusion of Gunsmoke, Amanda Blake made guest appearances on various television shows, including The Love Boat and Hart to Hart. Her talent and presence continued to shine on the small screen.

Recognition and Awards

Amanda Blake’s contributions to the television industry were recognized with several awards, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1969.

Amanda Blake’s Humanitarian Spirit

Throughout her life, Amanda Blake demonstrated a deep commitment to humanitarian causes. She actively supported charities and organizations focused on healthcare, education, and environmental preservation.

Amanda Blake’s Love for Travel

Amanda Blake had a passion for exploring the world. She traveled extensively, immersing herself in different cultures and broadening her horizons.

Amanda Blake’s Satirical Side

In addition to her dramatic roles, Amanda Blake showcased her comedic talents in various projects. She had a knack for delivering witty lines and bringing humor to her performances.

Amanda Blake’s Artistic Pursuits

Not only did Amanda Blake appreciate visual art, but she was also a talented painter herself. Her artwork was renowned for its vibrant colors and unique style.

Amanda Blake’s Enduring Legacy

Amanda Blake’s impact on television and her philanthropic efforts continue to resonate today. Her dedication to animal welfare inspired many, and her timeless performances remind us of her immense talent.

Amanda Blake’s Final Years

After retiring from acting, Amanda Blake lived a quiet life in Arizona. She enjoyed spending time with her loved ones and engaging in her various interests.

Iconic Catchphrase

One of Amanda Blake’s most memorable contributions to Gunsmoke was her character’s catchphrase, “Howdy, cowboy.” This phrase became synonymous with Miss Kitty Russell and further solidified her status as a television icon.

Amanda Blake’s Charity Work in Africa

Amanda Blake’s passion for animal welfare extended beyond the borders of the United States. She actively participated in wildlife conservation efforts in Africa, working to protect endangered species and their habitats.

Amanda Blake’s Perseverance

Amanda Blake faced numerous challenges throughout her life, but she consistently displayed resilience and determination. Her ability to overcome adversity serves as an inspiration to many.

Unforgettable Chemistry

One of the factors that contributed to Gunsmoke’s success was the undeniable chemistry between Amanda Blake and James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon. Their on-screen dynamic added depth and authenticity to the show.

Amanda Blake’s Soundtrack Contributions

Outside of her acting career, Amanda Blake lent her voice to music as well. She recorded a few songs that showcased her vocal abilities and further demonstrated her artistic versatility.

Amanda Blake’s Dedication to Craft

Amanda Blake was known for her professionalism and commitment to her craft. She approached each role with a meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that her performances were authentic and compelling.

Amanda Blake’s Enduring Influence

Amanda Blake’s impact on the entertainment industry is undeniable. Her memorable performances, philanthropic endeavors, and dedication to causes close to her heart continue to inspire and leave a lasting impression.

In conclusion, Amanda Blake was a multifaceted talent who made a significant impact both on and off-screen. Her portrayal of Miss Kitty Russell on Gunsmoke became legendary, and her philanthropic efforts continue to benefit animals and the environment. Amanda Blake’s legacy as an actress, humanitarian, and advocate for animal rights will be remembered for years to come.


In conclusion, Amanda Blake was an iconic figure in the world of entertainment. From her enduring role as Kitty Russell on “Gunsmoke” to her philanthropic efforts as an animal rights activist, she left a lasting impact on both the screen and the world around her. Through her talent, charisma, and passion, Amanda Blake became a beloved celebrity whose legacy continues to inspire and entertain audiences to this day.With her magnetic presence and dedication to making a difference, Amanda Blake will always be remembered as a remarkable actress, advocate, and humanitarian. Her contributions to the entertainment industry and her advocacy for animal rights set her apart as a true icon. Amanda Blake’s legacy will forever be celebrated and cherished by her fans and those who appreciate her remarkable talent and kind-hearted spirit.


Q: What were Amanda Blake’s most notable roles?

A: Amanda Blake is most famously remembered for her role as Kitty Russell on the long-running TV series “Gunsmoke.” She portrayed the resilient and independent saloon owner with great finesse, earning her numerous accolades throughout her career.

Q: Did Amanda Blake have any other hobbies or interests?

A: Apart from her acting career, Amanda Blake had a deep passion for animal rights activism. She was actively involved in several animal welfare organizations and dedicated her time and resources to help protect and advocate for the welfare of animals.

Q: How long did Amanda Blake portray the character of Kitty Russell on “Gunsmoke”?

A: Amanda Blake played the role of Kitty Russell on “Gunsmoke” for an impressive 19 years, starting from the show’s inception in 1955 until her departure in 1974. Her portrayal of Kitty has become one of the most iconic and memorable characters in television history.

Q: What awards did Amanda Blake receive for her acting work?

A: Although Amanda Blake did not receive any individual Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Kitty Russell, she was a beloved and respected figure in the industry. Over the course of her career, she received various accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination in 1959 for Best Female TV Star.

Q: How did Amanda Blake contribute to animal rights activism?

A: Amanda Blake was deeply committed to animal rights activism and was involved in numerous organizations dedicated to the issue. She was a founder of the Arizona Animal Welfare League and actively supported campaigns against animal cruelty and the protection of endangered species.

Amanda Blake's legacy continues to inspire, just as the thought-provoking documentary Blackfish sheds light on important issues of animal welfare. Her iconic role helped define the Golden Age of Hollywood, an era that gave us enduring symbols like the famous Hollywood Sign. Blake's career spanned decades, much like that of her contemporary, the versatile actor Burgess Meredith, beloved for his memorable roles in classic TV series. These fascinating stories serve as a reminder of the enduring impact of entertainment and the power of individuals to make a difference both on and off the screen.

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