Festus – A Better Singer Than Talker?

Festus Haggen

Festus Haggen

We have all seen Festus (Ken Curtis) talk on the Gunsmoke TV series. He manages to get the words out but it seems to be a struggle. Here is an example:


But did you know that Ken Curtis was a singer before he became an actor? He sang with the Sons of the Pioneers from 1949 to 1953. Then he moved on to the Tommy Dorsey band where he replaced Frank Sinatra as the lead vocalist.

Later, he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and played in a series of musical westerns with The Hoosier Hotspots. For nearly a year he was the featured singer on WWVA Jamboree, a long running country music radio program.

OK – so can Ken Curtis sing? Take a look at this video and decide for yourself:

Not bad eh?

 For more information on Ken Curtis, Click Here.

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  1. doris cox says

    that man Ken Curtis have an outstanding voice bravo bravo

  2. sonja brown says

    a wonderful voice and want to know if he has any cd,s or records

    • Sonja – I googled “Ken Curtis Recordings” and did not see any for him alone but there were plenty for The Sons of the Pioneers where he sang for some time.

  3. Ken Curtis had a fantastic voice. As far as I am concerned his voice ranked up there with Frank Sinatra. Rest in peace Ken

  4. stevie armstrong says

    I was 11 years old when I saw the “Searchers”, and I will never forget when he turned to Vera Miles and sang the end of “Skip to my Lou” to her. I was floored – and gave me goose bumps. – Now on to Gunsmoke – I have been watching the first 10 seasons on DVD or TV – and while Chester took awhile to say what was on his mind, at least I could UNDERSTAND most of it. With Festus, I REALLY have to listen to understand what he is saying!! Someone should publish a list of Festus sayings and the meaning to them -LOL!! But I love watching them.

  5. Brenda Gryder says

    Wow, I mean WOW. I never would have guessed. He was very good on Gunsmoke, I watched it all the time. He sure was very talented.

  6. Karen Holmss says

    I have and still do watched Gun smoke all of my life. Ken Curtis came to Shreveport, LA at the fair one year, rode out on his mile, Ruth, got off and sang. Everyone was shocked to know he could really sing. I will always remember this event in my life.

  7. Kelly Gilliam says

    We will always love gunsmoke. It was a good clean show. The shows now are not good at all to filthy.

    • Yvette Hill says

      What a non singer, he is actually lip syncing, and the voice you hear in the background is totally different. He never struck me as a singer. Oh well thats my take!!!!!!!!! I’m not sold on his so called singing career.

      • The vast information available at your fingertips, and you’d rather take a guess and look like a fool? Sigh….

        His voice on Gunsmoke was developed for the role (as a consummate actor would do). After he served his country and enrolled in medical school, he began a career as an entertainer singing for “the Suns of the Pioneers” (superstars of their time). He was also a replacement for Frank Sinatra in Tommy Dorsey’s band. His artistic career is well documented…no need to guess.

        Also, youtube videos often appear to be out-of-sync due to the re-compression and conversion of multiple file types.

      • Well, I am 74 and saw Ken Curtis at a Rodeo in Jacksonville, TX. once and he sang live. No lipsink . He was GREAT ! Super on Gunsmoke and still watch him today at noon, with Matt, Kitty, Doc and Nuley !

  8. Robert Mueri says

    Yes he was a well know singer. As a Gun Smoke
    fan we never saw him sing. But sing he did.
    Do not let that hillbilly voice fool you.

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