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Amanda Blake

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Amanda Blake (February 20 1929 - August 16 1989), was an American actress.

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Amanda Blake

Born Beverly Louise Neill in Buffalo, New York, she was a telephone operator before taking up acting. She became best known for her 19-year role as Kitty Russell on the long-running series Gunsmoke. Miss Kitty was owner/operator of the Long Branch Saloon from which she dispensed wisdom, whiskey, and an ongoing-nongoing mystery relationship with Dodge City Marshall Matt Dillon (played by James Arness).

She was elected to the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

After "Gunsmoke," Blake went into semi-retirement at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, taking on only a few film or TV projects. A lover of animals, in 1971 she joined with others to form the Arizona Animal Welfare League, today the oldest and largest "no-kill" animal shelter in the state. In 1985, she helped finance the startup of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and devoted a great deal of time and money in support of its efforts, including traveling to Africa where it is believed she was infected with the AIDS virus.

She died in Sacramento, California from throat cancer complicated by a type of viral hepatitis brought on by AIDS.

In 1997, the "Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge" opened at Rancho Seco Park in Herald, California. The refuge is a PAWS sanctuary for free-ranging African hoofed wildlife, most of whom were originally destined for exotic animal auctions or hunting ranches.


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See also: Other notable figures in Western films

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