Curtis was his team's quarterback in high school where he also played the Clarinet in band. During World War II, he served in the United States Army. Before trying his hand at a music career (he wasn't in to acting yet), Curtis went to college to study medicine, but left because his heart wasn't in it.
When Frank Sinatra left the famous Tommy Dorsey Band, Curtis was his replacement for a short period of time as WWII was getting ready to unleash. He then went on to perform from 1959 to 1962 with Roy Rogers and The Sons of the Pioneers and put out the famous song: "Ghost Riders in the Sky."
He was a special actor in many ways and the studio wanted to turn him loose into movie roles which included: "How the West Was Won," "The Alamo," and "Mister Roberts." "Gunsmoke," was a hit television show from the start and when Dennis Weaver (Chester) left the show as Matt's deputy, Curtis took his place. There were five different deputies on the show from 1955 to 1975, but he by far stayed in the role the longest at 11 years. What's funny is that the guy who most people thought was just a typical peripheral costar, was actually the most talented entertainer out of anyone on the show.
He married Torrie Connelly in 1966 who had two children. Curtis never had any of his own. They remained married until he died in his sleep at the age of 74, from heart failure. He was a very amazing man. How do I know? He was a registered republican. 😎
When most people met Curtis outside of his roles in Hollywood, they couldn't believe how tall he was. Why? Because the 6'6" tall Matt Dillon was larger than most NFL players at the time, and it made Curtis look really small even though he was six feet tall.