If you tune in to afternoon Gunsmoke reruns to watch James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty, Dennis Weaver as Chester, Milburn Stone as Doc and former Sons of the Pioneers member Ken Curtis as Festus, you might've spotted a familiar face in the 1957 episode "The Man Who Would Be Marshall."
The future June Carter Cash, a second generation member of the Carter Family and the musical and martial partner of Johnny Cash, appears in her first credited acting role as a saloon girl named Clarise.
Her brief appearance during the third of Gunsmoke's 20 seasons came the year she turned 28 and 11 years before marrying Cash, her third and final husband.
Maces Springs, Virginia native Valerie June Carter needs little introduction. She was a daughter of country music's original guitar hero, Mother Maybelle Carter, and a member of the Carter Sisters alongside siblings Anita and Helen.
The Carter and Cash marriage requires even less explanation thanks to Reese Witherspoon's Oscar-winning portayal of June in the 2005 film Walk the Line. Even without Hollywood's help, the couple's duet "Jackson," Cash's performance of Carter co-write "Ring of Fire" and son John Carter Cash's work as a country singer, songwriter and producer would make the whole family inseparable from Nashville's Music City image.
Carter's filmography isn't limited to Gunsmoke, Grand Ole Opry broadcasts and episodes of Cash's variety TV series. She also appeared in two episodes of The Adventures of Jim Bowie in 1957 and returned to the small screen in a 1976 episode of Little House on the Prairie. Her biggest contribution to popular TV shows came much later as the character Sister Ruth in the CBS series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Sister Ruth appeared in three episodes, airing in 1993, 1994 and 1997.
Additional acting roles came in such films as 1997's The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall.
This story originally ran on March 19, 2020.