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Amanda Blake's Death

Amanda Blake

She was the "pretty lady"…

Amanda Blake

…in one of the most popular TV westerns ever, but she died the victim of a sinister disease.

Amanda Blake was born in Buffalo, New York. Her name at birth was Beverly Louise Neal, the only child of a banker Jesse and his wife, Louise Neal. Amanda was a phone operator before she started acting.

She appeared in some small films at the start of her career, like 1950's "Stars in My Crown"

Amanda Blake

But she's best known for a 19 year run as saloon keeper "Miss Kitty" Russell, in the CBS TV series "Gunsmoke" from 1955 to 1974.

Amanda rarely appeared in movies because her continuing "Gunsmoke" roles, but was seen elsewhere on TV, like "Hollywood Squares", the "Match Game" and "Hee-Haw".

Married four times, Blake was a heavy smoker and required surgery for oral cancer 1977.

When she died it was originally thought the cause was cancer. But her death certificate listed cardiopulmonary disease due to liver failure and an AIDS related form of hepatitis. Amanda was aware she had AIDS, but it's not known for sure how she contracted the disease.