Mostly Credited As: Amanda Blake
Sometimes Credited As: Miss Amanda Blake
Birth Name: Beverly Louise Neill
Date Of Birth: February 20, 1929 (Age 60)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Buffalo, New York
Date Of Death: August 16, 1989
Cause Of Death: liver failure brought on by AIDS-related hepatitis
Height: 5' 6" (1.67 m)
It's hard to think of redheaded, five-feet, seven-inches, 120-pound Amanda Blake as an entity separate from Kitty Russell, Long Branch saloonkeeper and madam on "Gunsmoke." And no wonder! She played the role on television for more than 17 years—a record for female actresses.
In order to do the shooting for the series, she commuted to Los Angeles by private plane from her home in Phoenix—in spite of the fact that she was terrified of flying.By 1971 her businessman husband Frank Gilbert sometimes took over the controls, but never while she was aboard. Amanda, who hailed from Buffalo, N.Y., always knew she wanted to act. She was encouraged by her actress mother who said Amanda was really super. She acted all the time—never got off. When her family moved to Claremont, Calif., in 1943, Amanda barely got in one year of college because little theatre productions claimed most of her attention. She was signed by MGM while still in her teens, and from there went to Columbia for a year. She was at CBS when she heard that the successful radio show "Gunsmoke" was going to be made into a television pilot and she decided to look for the part and got it. Aside from having married Gilbert, an extremely wealthy man, Amanda was a rich actress in her own right. Yet her only extravagance was jewelry.
Amanda admited that her husband prefere that she didn't work, but she says with appreciation, that he understood how it is with her. She had it with the show-business stuff. Butshe loved 'Gunsmoke,' and loved the guys she worked with. she couldn't have stood it if the show had gone on, and she wasn't part of it.