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Thursday, 2 July 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of Stephen Boyd.

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #75 – 2 July 1916

Curtis Wain Gates, who was known professionally as Ken Curtis, was born on 2 July, 1916.  He was a singer and actor.

He joined the Tommy Dorsey band in 1941 as a temporary replacement for Frank Sinatra, until Dick Haymes took over.  He was lead singer with the Sons of the Pioneers from 1949–1952.  One of their biggest hits was (Ghost) Riders in the Sky.  They also sang the theme song to the John Ford/John Wayne film The Searchers (1956).  Curtis had a role, Charlie McCorry, in that film.

His screen career began with a lot of uncredited bit-parts in low-budget westerns, but television was to give him stardom.  He co-starred in the 75-episode adventure series Ripcord (1961-63) and in a more famous series, Gunsmoke, as Festus Hagen, the scruffy but wily deputy to James Arness’s Matt Dillon.  Gunsmoke ran for 635 episodes from 1955-1975 and Curtis joined in 1959, appearing in 306 episodes.

Ken Curtis died from a heart attack at 74 on 28 April, 1991.

Sources: Various

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