Like his Gunsmoke costar Ken Curtis, Glenn Strange had come to Hollywood as a singer. He grew up in the southwest and came from a ranching family. At a young age he showed skill as a singer and was performing on a local radio show in the late 1920s. He then toured with a band that went to California.
In the early 1930s Glenn was playing gigs with his band and finding small roles in movie serials. Because of his imposing build (he was 6’5″ tall), he was often used to play menacing characters. He would become known for his later villainous roles at Universal in the 40s. He was being fitted for a costume for an action picture when someone realized he’d be perfect as Frankenstein’s monster in several upcoming horror films at the studio. He went on to do the role in three Universal pictures, and it was his face that was used in the 50s for toys and other merchandising tie-ins.
In the monster flicks Glenn worked alongside people like Lon Chaney Jr. and Abbott & Costello. He also worked with the Bowery Boys over at Monogram; and in quite a few low-budget thrillers and westerns at PRC. He still took work in serials, too. In the 50s, he transitioned to television and usually played villains in adventure programs and action series.
By the time Glenn took the role of Sam the bartender on Gunsmoke, he had amassed over 300 screen credits. He played Sam from 1961 until his death in 1973 (his last episode aired two months after he had passed away). Costar Buck Taylor named a son after him; Taylor had also named an older son after Jim Arness.
- the mad monster (1942); prc; horror; george zucco; 77 mins.
- the black raven (1943); prc; horror; george zucco; 61 mins.
- the monster maker (1944); prc; horror; j. carrol naish; 62 mins.
- valley of vengeance (1944); prc; western; buster crabbe; 56 mins.
- house of frankenstein (1944); universal; horror; boris karloff; 71 mins.
- house of dracula (1945); universal; horror; lon chaney jr.; 67 mins.
- renegades of the rio grande (1945); universal; western; rod cameron; 57 mins.
- abbott and costello meet frankenstein (1948); universal; horror comedy; abbott & costello; 83 mins.
- master minds (1949); monogram; horror comedy; leo gorcey; 64 mins.
- comanche territory (1950); universal; western; maureen o’hara; 76 mins.
As Sam, the bartender in "Gunsmoke", his presence at the bar was always a comforting one.