SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a surprising revelation, it has been confirmed by her doctor that Amanda Blake, renowned for her portrayal of Miss Kitty in the popular television series “Gunsmoke,” died due to complications related to AIDS, contrary to previous reports suggesting cancer as the cause. Dr. Lou Nishimura, an internist from Sacramento, clarified that although Blake had battled throat cancer, it was not the primary reason for her demise.
Following Blake’s passing on August 16 at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, a statement jointly issued by the hospital and the actress’ friends indicated that her death was the result of a prolonged fight against cancer. However, according to Dr. Nishimura, Blake, aged 60, had been displaying symptoms of AIDS for approximately a year. The doctor stated that he was unaware of the source of her contraction of the fatal disease.
Notably, Mark Spaeth, Blake’s fifth husband, who was an Austin, Texas, city councilman and developer, had previously succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 45 in 1985. The couple had married in April 1984 but divorced shortly afterward.
Blake’s official death certificate attributes her passing to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by liver failure and CMV hepatitis. Dr. Nishimura, who treated Blake during the year leading up to her demise and signed the certificate, clarified that CMV hepatitis is a condition associated with AIDS. The certificate also notes that acquired immune deficiency syndrome and cancer were contributing factors to her death.
Dr. Nishimura’s statements came after friends of Blake, as quoted in a report by Sacramento television station KRBK on Friday, revealed that AIDS had played a role in her demise.
AIDS is caused by a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, shared needles among drug users, infected blood or blood products, and from infected pregnant women to their infants.
Despite having undergone surgery for oral cancer in 1977, following which she actively supported the American Cancer Society through public appearances across the country, Blake was known to have been a heavy smoker, consuming two packs of cigarettes per day.
Jerri Ewen, a spokeswoman for Mercy General, stated that she had reported cancer as the cause of death based on the request of Blake’s close friends. Ewen emphasized that in cases of someone’s passing, the wishes of the family, in this instance represented by friends, are followed. Ewen admitted she had not personally seen the death certificate.
In accordance with California law, death certificates are considered public documents and are filed with the county where the person passes away. Ewen confirmed that the hospital had reported the death to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
During her tenure on “Gunsmoke,” Blake portrayed the beloved character of Miss Kitty, the queen of Dodge City’s Long Branch Saloon, for an impressive 19 years. The TV series, set in the lawless cattle town of Dodge City, Kansas, during the late 1800s, was one of the original “adult westerns” of the mid-1950s.
Blake left “Gunsmoke” in 1974, and the show continued for one more season on CBS before being canceled.
Following her departure from “Gunsmoke,” Blake’s professional engagements became sporadic, often limited to guest appearances on TV game shows, movies of the week, and various series such as “Edge of Night,” “Hart to Hart,” and “Love Boat.”
Miss Blake, a resident of Sacramento, was also a passionate advocate for animal protection, dedicating herself to activism in that domain for a considerable period.