Milburn Stone

Hugh Milburn Stone (July 5, 1904 – June 12, 1980) was an American actor, best known for his role as "Doc" (Dr. Galen Adams) on the CBS Western series Gunsmoke.

Milburn Stone
Stone in 1959
Hugh Milburn Stone

(1904-07-05)July 5, 1904
DiedJune 12, 1980(1980-06-12) (aged 75)
Resting placeEl Camino Memorial Park, Sorrento Valley, California, U.S.
Years active1919–1975
Ellen Morrison Stone
(m. 1925; died 1937)

Jane Garrison Stone (m. 1939–div. 1940; m. 1946) died 2002
RelativesFred Stone (uncle)
Madge Blake (cousin)


Stone was born in Burrton, Kansas, to Herbert Stone and the former Laura Belfield.[1] There, he graduated from Burrton High School, where he was active in the drama club, played basketball, and sang in a barbershop quartet. His uncle (Stone's brother, Joe Stone, says cousin),[2] Fred Stone, was a versatile actor who appeared on Broadway and in circuses.

His brother, Joe, was a writer who was the author of scripts for three episodes of Gunsmoke.[3]

Stone was a cousin of the character actress Madge Blake.[4]

Although Stone had a congressional appointment to the United States Naval Academy, he turned it down, choosing instead to become an actor with a stock theater company headed by Helen Ross.[1]


In 1919, Stone debuted on stage in a Kansas tent show. He ventured into vaudeville in the late 1920s, and in 1930, he was half of the Stone and Strain song-and-dance act.[1] His Broadway credits include Around the Corner (1936) and Jayhawker (1934).[5]

In the 1930s, Stone came to Los Angeles, California, to launch his own screen career. He was featured in the "Tailspin Tommy" adventure serial for Monogram Pictures. In 1939 he played Stephen Douglas in the movie "Young Mr, Lincoln" with Henry Fonda and Ward Bond. In 1939 he appeared in When Tomorrow Comes as Head Busboy (uncredited). In 1940, he appeared with Marjorie Reynolds, Tristram Coffin, and I. Stanford Jolley in the comedy espionage film Chasing Trouble. That same year, he co-starred with Roy Rogers in the film Colorado in the role of Rogers' brother-gone-wrong.[6]

Stone appeared uncredited in the 1939 film Blackwell's Island. Stone played Dr. Blake in the 1943 film Gung Ho! and a liberal-minded warden in Monogram Pictures' Prison Mutiny in 1943. Signed by Universal Pictures in 1943, in the film Captive Wild Woman (1943), Jungle Woman (1943), Sherlock Holmes Faces Death [Captain Pat Vickery], (1944), he became a familiar face in its features and serials. In 1944, he portrayed a Ration Board representative in the Universal-produced public service film Prices Unlimited for the U.S. Office of Price Administration and the Office of War Information. One of his film roles was a radio columnist in the Gloria Jean-Kirby Grant musical I'll Remember April. He made such an impression in this film that Universal Studios gave him a starring role (and a similar characterization) in the 1945 serial The Master Key. The same year, he was featured in the Inner Sanctum murder mystery The Frozen Ghost.

In 1955, one of CBS Radio's hit series, the Western Gunsmoke, was adapted for television and recast with experienced screen actors. Howard McNear, the radio Doc Adams, was replaced by Stone, who gave the role a harder edge consistent with his screen portrayals. He stayed with Gunsmoke through its entire television run, with the exception of 7 episodes in 1971, when Stone required heart surgery and Pat Hingle replaced him as Dr. Chapman. Stone appeared in 604 episodes through 1975, often shown sparring in a friendly manner with co-stars Dennis Weaver and Ken Curtis, who played, respectively, Chester Goode and Festus Haggen.[6]


In March 1971,[7] Stone had heart bypass surgery at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. In June 1980, Stone died of a heart attack[8] in La Jolla. He was buried at the El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley, San Diego.[9]

Personal life

Stone had a surviving daughter, Shirley Stone Gleason (born circa 1926) of Costa Mesa, California, from his first marriage of 12 years to Ellen Morrison, formerly of Delphos, Kansas, who died in 1937.[2] His second wife, the former Jane Garrison, a native of Hutchinson, Kansas, died in 2002. Stone had married, divorced, and remarried Garrison.


In 1975, Stone received an honorary doctorate from St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kansas,[10] where Gunsmoke was set but not filmed.

A painting of the Doc Adams character was commissioned from Gary Hawk, a painter from Stone's home state of Kansas. When then-U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan, a friend of Stone's, heard about the painting, Hawk was invited to the Oval Office to present the artwork to the President. Stone lived to see Reagan emerge as the likely Republican nominee for President in 1980, but not to witness Reagan's defeat of Jimmy Carter. Stone died in 1980, and Reagan was not inaugurated until January 20, 1981.

In 1968, Stone received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama for his work on Gunsmoke.[11]

For his contribution to the television industry, Milburn Stone has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.[note 1][12] In 1981, Stone was inducted posthumously into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.[13] After his death, he left a legacy for the performing arts in Cecil County in northeastern Maryland, by way of the Milburn Stone Theatre[14] in North East, Maryland.

Selected filmography


  1. The Hollywood Walk of Fame's website designates Stone as a Star of Motion Pictures and gives the address of his star as 6823 Hollywood Boulevard.


  1. Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. pp. 397–398. ISBN 9781476628561. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  2. "Correspondence from Milburn Stone's brother, Joe Stone". January 23, 1998. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  3. Lentz, Harris M. III (2004). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2003: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. ISBN 9780786417568. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  4. Beccy Tanner (August 20, 2012). "Madge Blake stood out in small roles". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  5. "("Milburn Stone" search results)". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  6. Milburn Stone on IMDb
  7. "After heart surgery, 'Doc' continues to improve",; accessed May 5, 2014.
  9. Cemeteries in San Diego
  10. "Milburn Stone". kansapedia. Kansas Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 21, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  11. "("Milburn Stone" search results)". Emmy Awards. Television Academy. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  12. "Milburn Stone". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  13. "Great Western Performers". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  14. "About Us". Milburn Stone Theatre. Archived from the original on September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
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