Gunsmoke actor Burt Reynolds worked hard for his prominent acting career. However, he certainly had to make some difficult decisions early on between feature films and television. Reynolds earned an impressive spot on one of the biggest shows on television and thought highly of his Western co-stars. But, he later admitted that it became an increasingly boring gig and decided to bite the bullet and make a change.
Reynolds first joined Gunsmoke Season 8 Episode 3 called “Quint Asper Comes Home,” where he played the title character, Quint Asper. The 1962 episode established his character as a half-Comanche man who joined forces with his mother to kill white men in response to the murder of his father. However, James Arness’ Matt Dillon saw the good in him and integrated him into the life of Dodge City. The pair later became close friends.
Reynolds starred in 50 Gunsmoke episodes over the course of three seasons. After his introduction in season 8, he remained on the show through season 10. Quint became a series regular, providing a steady job for the actor. However, his time in this role ultimately came to a sudden end with no mention until season 12, when he got a name-drop.
According to David R. Greenland’s book, The Gunsmoke Chronicles: A New History of Television’s Greatest Western, Reynolds called his days on the CBS show “the happiest days of his life.” However, he was frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t entirely exercise his creativity in the role.
Gunsmoke decision-makers gave the performers a little bit more room to play with their characters, but it wasn’t enough. They even implemented a story concept that he came up with alongside co-star Ken Curtis, which became 1965’s “Eliab’s Aim,” which saw Festus Haggen’s nephew, Eliab, come to Dodge City. But, he came with the intention of shooting off a part of his uncle’s ear in response to the fact that he bit off a part of his father’s ear years ago during a fight. Nevertheless, Reynolds wanted something more for his career.
“The bottom line was the job had become boring,” Reynolds said. “Each week, Quint got insulted. Then Jim, after spending six days in Hawaii, would show up on the set and beat up the guy who insulted me.”
Gunsmoke co-star Milburn Stone noticed that Reynolds became antsy remaining on the show. He advised the young actor to leave the show: “You’re a movie star. Get the hell out of here! Go do it!” That was the greatest piece of advice that he could have given him because he truly did prove to be a star of the silver screen.
Reynolds became a media sex symbol, rising as an overall icon of the 1970s. He starred in hits such as Deliverance and The Longest Yard. Reynolds even secured an Oscar nomination for his supporting performance in Boogie Nights, but he lost to Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.
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