He was initially a singer who sang with The Sons of the Pioneers and later with the Tommy Dorsey band. He began in pictures in 1945. He was the son-in-law of director John Ford and appeared a number of his pictures including Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Wings of Eagles, The Searchers, The Horse Soldiers, The Alamo and How The West Was Won. In the late 1950’s he appeared in the C.V. Whitney pictures The Missouri Traveler and The Young Land. He guest starred on the TV Series Have Gun Will Travel as a character called Monk.
In the early 1960’s he costarred Larry Pennell in a TV series called Ripcord which was about sky diving.
After that he joined the series that he is probably most famous for – Gunsmoke. Who is this actor? It is Ken Curtis known as Festus on the show. While marshal Matt Dillon had five assistants over the 20 year history of Gunsmoke, Festus held that role the longest – 11 years and 239 episodes.
We remember Festus because of his quirky character and unusual accent which he developed for the show. He was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.
Ken Curtis died on April 28, 1991 and was cremated. His ashes was scattered in the Colorado flatlands.