WAITING ON CHESTER
Biscuits, Bacon, and Bullets--
How to Dodge Your Just Desserts
FERBERESQUE, NOT FAT
Matt was not magnified by James Arness.
Matt was always big, from the very beginnings of Gunsmoke in radio.
Not only did Matt beat buffalo hunters & bullies,
but the 'sound pattern' technicians very pointedly made his footfalls
heavier & larger than everybody else's.
There was no connection with William Conrad's weight;
Matt was never supposed to look like Wm Conrad.
Matt simply had magnitude, from the day he began, in radio.
Matt mentions his weight once in 'Groat's Grudge,'
when he gains a few after being too stationary in Dodge.
Kitty didn't mind more Matt, as long as he was near and not getting hurt somewhere or escorting females in the prairie.
"You look fine," says Kitty: "It'd be alright with me."
If anyone was overfed, it was Chester.
The same tv Gunsmoke fans who snicker at the idea
of Conrad playing Dillon, get their only image of Chester
from Dennis Weaver.
Ironically, Chester as he began in radio
had a fuller profile because he was given vocal volume
by big & broad Parley Baer, who gave him a thin swinish voice.
TV fans are under the impression
that Baer was the one copying Weaver,
despite the fact that he was playing Chester
four years before tv Gunsmoke even began.
Go figure--the ironies are heavy.
Furthermore, or rather fattermore,
there are as many references to Chester feeding & fattening,
as licorice & horehound in Mr. Jonas' glass jars.
Chester being chubby made sense on radio
because of the volume of vittles that he 'et.'
All the vittley comedy bits carried over to television,
where they made just as much sense with a stick-thin tv Chester
who ate everything but gained nothing.
In 'Old Man's Gold,' Matt says:
"Chester told me that he had three helpings of that stew."
"Chester's got four stomachs--like a camel."
In 'Bad Boy,' Doc tries to give Chester a hint:
"Fasting's good for a man, Chester.
And a little of it wouldn't hurt you."
Chester's two best friends, talking about him in 'Groat's Grudge'—
Doc: "Here comes Chester, looking hungry."
Matt: "He hasn't eaten for at least an hour and a half.
Of course he's hungry."
Waiter: "What'll you have?"
Chester: "Well, now... "
Matt: "Bring him something to eat in a hurry!"
Chester: "Well, now—I ain't in no special rush!"
Matt: "Yes, you are, Chester. Meet me in the stable
in five minutes. We're gonna be ridin'... "
During a prairie stake-out in the episode 'Annie Oakley,'
an always-hungry Chester aches for "a plate of hot meat
and maybe a loaf of sourdough bread."
In 'The Wake,' Chester attends the vigil for the vine & vittles--
Chester: "I hope we ain't gonna be late!"
Matt: "From the sound of things, they're just warmin' up!"
Chester: "No, I mean for the vittles--I hope it ain't all gone!"
Matt: "If I know you, you'll make out somehow."
From 'Brush At Elkader'--
Chester: "Now I know what's wrong with this town."
Matt: "Oh, what?"
Chester: "The way they eat! That restaurant puts out
the mustiest-smellin' beef stew I ever smelled!"
Matt: "That was goat stew!"
Chester: "Goat?! I need a drink... "
In 'Moo Moo Raid,' Chester complains:
"I just don't seem to have any appetite at all lately, Mr. Dillon."
"Yeah, I noticed that, Chester—you only had six eggs."
When they are called to an emergency, Chester protests:
"I got some flapjacks here I ain't et yet!"
In 'Speak Me Fair,' Matt confirms Chester's gut-feeling
that the latter indeed had two pounds of deer liver for breakfast.
In 'The Blacksmith,' Chester wonders at the breakfast
Matt has just bought him:
"My--steak, eggs, potatoes, and a glass of beer!
Why, that could last a man clean to noon dinner!"
At the blacksmith's wedding party, there is a barrel of beer,
hard-boiled eggs, pickled pigs' feet, roast chicken, smoked beef,
sugar cakes, dried apple pie, and whiskey.
Chester's definition of Solanum tuberosum
in the tv version of 'The Blacksmith':
"Potatoes, that's just part of the steak!"
Chester's chestnut on eggs in the tv version of 'Old Flame':
"You gotta have aygs in the morning."
In 'Twelfth Night,' the Mongers fix their feud
with the final Hakes, by feasting on kraut, sour pickles,
cornbread, coffee, and chitlins.
January 9, 2008
Copyright © 2008-2011 E. A. Villafranca, Jr.
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