How Did Amanda Blake Die?

There seems to be some confusion on how Amanda Blake (who played Miss Kitty) actually died. An article in the LA Times on August 17, 1989 prints this:

Actress Amanda Blake, the earthy Miss Kitty who ran the Longbranch Saloon on the long-running television series “Gunsmoke,” died of oral and throat cancer in Sacramento’s Mercy Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said late Wednesday. Blake, 58, underwent surgery for oral cancer in 1977 and afterward made appearances throughout the country on behalf of the American Cancer Society. She was once a two-pack-a-day smoker.

Then on November 6, 1989, another article was published which seems to suggest that she actually had Aids:

Blake Cause of Death Revealed Actress Amanda Blake, who starred for many years as television’s Miss Kitty in the Western series “Gunsmoke,” died of AIDS, her doctor has confirmed. Her Aug. 16 death of throat cancer at age 60 was complicated by a type of viral hepatitis brought on by acquired immune deficiency syndrome, her physician Lou Nishimura said Saturday. She died at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.

Two days later the LA Times published another article:

A longtime friend of actress Amanda Blake says she feared before she died last August that the AIDS disease she had contracted would affect her work in animal rights. Pat Derby, the head of the Performing Animal Welfare Society refuge in Galt, said Tuesday that the actress knew she was fighting AIDS and feared negative publicity about it would harm her animal welfare causes. “She wanted to use all of her energy for animals,” Derby told the Sacramento Bee.

So it looks like she actually died from AIDS. Here is further proof from Wikipedia:

Blake had been a heavy cigarette smoker and had surgery for oral cancer in 1977. She became a supporter of the American Cancer Society and made fundraising appearances throughout the country. In 1984, she was the recipient of the society’s annual Courage Award.
Blake died on August 16, 1989, from complications of AIDS. Some initial confusion existed over the exact cause of her death. When she died at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, California, a statement by the hospital and some of her friends reported the cause of death as cancer. Blake’s death certificate, however, listed the immediate cause as cardiopulmonary arrest due to liver failure and cytomegalovirus (CMV) hepatitis. CMV hepatitis is AIDS-related, and her personal doctor and close friends soon confirmed the facts of her death from AIDS-related complications. It was reported that she likely contracted AIDS from her fourth husband, Austin City Council member Mark Spaeth, who died from AIDS soon after their 1985 divorce.

As you probably know, Amanda Blake played saloon-keeper Miss Kitty Russel for 19 of the 20 years it was on the air, leaving in 1974. She was married three times and, unfortunately the last time was probably the cause of her disease and death.

Here she is when she appeared in “Stars in My Crown” in 1950. Beautiful lady!

amanda blake

Stars in My Crown 1950

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Comments

  1. It’s sad that Hollywood seems to think that a movie can not be any good unless it has a lot of vulgar words. Gunsmoke writers did not have that feeling. I haven’t seen every episode, but I watched many of them, and never heard one vulgar word. In my opinion, Gunsmoke was the best western ever. I do not dismiss Bonanza, because it was right up there with Gunsmoke

  2. I agree…

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