Who is Amanda Blake?
Beverly Louise Neill was born on 20 February 1929, in Buffalo, New York State USA, and was an actress, best known for her role in the western television series “Gunsmoke” in which she played the saloon proprietress Miss Kitty Russell. She was also an animal welfare activist, noted for running one of the first successful programs for breeding cheetahs in captivity. She passed away in 1989.
The Wealth of Amanda Blake
How rich is Amanda Blake? As of late-2018, sources estimate a net worth that is at $500,000, earned through a successful career in acting. She appeared in a variety of television and film projects throughout her career, which maintained the position of her wealth prior to her passing.
Early Life and Career BeginningsAmanda grew up the only child in her family, which moved to California when she was young, with her father working as a banker. She matriculated from Claremont High School, but dropped-out of Pomona College to pursue a career in acting, but meantime worked as a telephone operator. In 1952 she made one of her first Hollywood appearances in the western film entitled “Cattle Town”, apparently changing to her stage name because it was apparently snappy and attractive, and followed it up with a starring role in the film “Miss Robin Crusoe”, an adaptation of the Robinson Crusoe novel written by Daniel Defoe. In 1955, she got one of her most notable roles in the series “Gunsmoke”, which takes place in and around Dodge City, Kansas during the settling of the American West. It starred James Arness and ran for a total of 20 season from 1955 to 1975, indicating that it was very popular, one of the most watched shows of its time. She played the character for its entire run, and due to the nature of the show, she barely had any time for other roles. She did have a few film projects before committing to the show, including “High Society” and “The Boost”.
While she was working in the show “Gunsmoke”, Blake had a recurring routine in the live “The Red Skelton Show”, and was also a frequent TV panelist in the long running “Hollywood Squares”. She also participated in the revival of “Match Game” and “Tattletales”, and made an appearance in the “Dean Martin Celebrity Roast”, and had a guest role in the drama “State Trooper”. With the end of “Gunsmoke”, she guest-starred in several television shows, such as “Hart to Hart” and “The Love Boat”, but took fewer and fewer roles until 1987 when she participated in the “Gunsmoke” reunion film entitled “Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge”. After the film, she only had a few more projects in the 1980s before retiring from acting. She worked on the film “The Boost” in 988, a drama starring James Woods and Sean Young. She also had a guest role in “The New Dragnet” which is a part of the “Dragnet” franchise. Most of the time, she spent her days in semi-retirement at her home located in Phoenix, Arizona.
During the latter part of her career leading to her retirement, Amanda started devoting more of her time to animals. She became a well-known animal welfare advocate, and brought home the lion Kemo after its appearance in “Gunsmoke”, which lived in an animal compound at her home. She also started a successful experimental breeding program for cheetahs, making her one of the first to breed cheetahs in captivity, managing to raise seven generations. She also helped form the Arizona Animal Welfare League, which is now the oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter in the state.
She also helped finance the Performance Animal Welfare Society, spending a lot of her time in support. She travelled to Africa frequently and was also a onetime board member of the Humane Society of the United States. In 1997, the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge was opened in Herald, California at the Rancho Seco Park, which is a sanctuary for free-ranging African hoofed wildlife, which have either been rescued from hunting ranches or animal auctions. She also became the third performer to be inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum located in Oklahoma City, joining the ranks of Tom Mix and Gary Cooper.
Personal Life and Death
For her personal life, it is known that Blake was married four times, firstly was to Don Whitman from 1954 to ’56, then in 1964 to Jason Seymour Day Jr., which lasted for three years. Two days after their divorce, she married Frank Gilbert who would support her for most of her animal welfare projects including the cheetah breeding program, until they divorced in 1982, her longest marriage. Her final marriage was to Mark Edward Spaeth in 1984, but he passed away a year later.
Throughout her life, she was a heavy cigarette smoker and this resulted in an oral cancer diagnosis for which she had to undergo surgery for in 1977. She then became a supporter of the American Cancer Society, and is a recipient of the society’s annual Courage Award. She passed away in 1989, with her doctor stating that she had actually died of AIDS. This caused a lot of rumors about drugs and sexual promiscuity, but it was then discovered that her last husband died of AIDS-related pneumonia, which indicates that she acquired the disease through him.