When I was growing up, this was before TIVO or cable, or even color TV for that matter, my father never missed an episode of Gunsmoke. Maybe it was some vicarious thrill or that he liked to model himself after the honest U.S. Marshall, Matt Dillion but Gunsmoke was almost like a religion in our house.
Being naïve at the time, I was fascinated by Miss Kitty and wondered what it would be like to live life in the Wild West with pretty red hair and wear a fancy dress all the time.
Well, I probably don’t have to wonder any more if I feel like reading the book, Perfectly Amanda: Gunsmoke’s Miss Kitty to Dodge and Beyond.
The book is a result of author Beckey Burgoyne’s lifelong admiration of the great actress Amanda Blake and her Gunsmoke character, Kitty Russell. Perfectly Amanda is a biography that provides a chronological look into Amanda Blake’s life, both on and off the screen. Including anecdotes about Blake’s life in Phoenix, the book recounts the personal reflections of local friends and colleagues, and features an extensive collection of photographs, both formal and candid. Full of tales of adventure and travel, as well as revealing information on Blake’s battle with cancer and her unending devotion to a wide variety of Phoenix area charities.
Ms. Burgoyne will be signing copies of the book on Saturday March 20 at 2 p.m. at the Western Ranchman, 16028 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix. Proceeds will be donated to the Conquistador program.
Conquistador, the Peruvian stallion who inspired the Conquistador Equine Rescue program will also appear. In 2001, Conquistador, a young chestnut Peruvian Paso stallion, was found in Eastern Arizona almost dead from starvation and dehydration, blinded in one eye and lame. Working together, a coalition of animal organizations and compassionate Arizonans saved the young stallion and, ultimately, 12 Peruvian horses from that situation of severe neglect.
With love and care, combined with the chestnut stallion’s own great heart, Conquistador recovered to become a multiple Champion Peruvian horse, advocate for his fellow equines, and inspiration for all who are working to conquer physical or emotional challenges.
The Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Group, a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 equine welfare organization, is a coalition of rescue groups, sanctuaries, foster homes and individuals. Since its inception in 2001, with the rescue of Conquistador, the program has rescued and rehabilitated more than 300 horses in the U.S. and assisted in the rescue of 100 horses in Canada.
(Conquistador’s photo is a portrait courtesy of Pamela Reed. Book cover is courtesy of Five Star Publications.)