Sheriff Matt Dillon: Human or Lawman?
Length: 418 words (1.2 double-spaced pages)
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Gunsmoke, starring William Conrad as Sheriff Matt Dillon, was the longest running western radio program ever to air. It is the story of a country that moved west, and the man who moved with it. Matt Dillon's fairness, caring, and stern attitude epitomize the stereotypical old-west lawman.
Matt Dillon's fairness comes through clearly when he deals with a would-be gunman and a man posing as a gunman in "The Lamb" (12-05-53). When the latter was shot by the would-be gunman, Dillon threw the gunman in jail and sent the other man to the doctor. When he found out that the injured man had only been mistaken for a well-known gunman, he sounds very disappointed for both men. He doesn't let the gunman have the reward money that he would have received if the other man had been the outlaw he had mistaken him for and when that man dies, he faces being hanged.
Matt Dillon's caring attitude enables a young woman named Nina Peters to stay in Dodge while her husband has to leave for a while ("Nina" 12-5-53). When her husband returns, he finds out that a couple of ruffians have caused her to have a miscarriage. Dillon allows Mr. Peters to fight one of the men who hurt Nina. Dillon seems almost pleased that Peters was able to beat up the bully and offers to buy him a drink afterward.
Dillon uses a stern manner deal with a couple of ruffians in "Kick Me" (11-26-53). The men had written a false letter of recommendation, telling an old Indian that it would get him a job with the trail herd. In return for getting him kicked out of the camp, the old Kiowa made Indian medicine against him. When one of the men ended up dead, Dillon jumped to the conclusion that the Indian had killed him. He was adamant about his innocence, and the dead man's partner ended up confessing to the killing. Dillon dealt with him accordingly.
Matt Dillon, sheriff of Dodge City, represents the old-west lawman as we think of him. He embodies many more traits than stated above and will forever keep the standard high.
"The Lamb." Gunsmoke. Starring William Conrad, Howard McNear, Georgia Ellis, and Parley Baer. Audiocassette. Radio Spirits, (12-05-53).
"Kick Me." Gunsmoke. Starring William Conrad, Howard McNear, Georgia Ellis, and Parley Baer. Audiocassette. Radio Spirits, (11-26-53).
"Nina." Gunsmoke. Starring William Conrad, Howard McNear, Georgia Ellis, and Parley Baer. Audiocassette. Radio Spirits, (1-23-54).