Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty on the long-running TV show “Gunsmoke,” died of complications from AIDS, not cancer, her doctor said Monday.
Blake did have throat cancer, but Dr. Lou Nishimura, an internist in Sacramento, said that wasn’t why she died.
Blake died on August 16 at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento. The hospital and the actress’s friends put out a statement saying that her death was caused by her long battle with cancer.
Nishimura said that Blake, who was 60, had signs of AIDS for about a year. He said that he didn’t know how she got the disease that would kill her.
Mark Spaeth, Blake’s fifth husband and a city councilman and developer in Austin, Texas, died of pneumonia at age 45 in 1985. They got married in April 1984, but they split up soon after.
On Blake’s death certificate, liver failure and CMV hepatitis were listed as the immediate causes of death. Nishimura, who cared for Blake in the year before she died and signed her death certificate, said that CMV, or cytomegalovirus hepatitis, is linked to AIDS.
On the death certificate, it said that she died because of cancer and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Nishimura was interviewed after Sacramento TV station KRBK said on Friday that Blake’s friends said she died because of AIDS. This led to Nishimura being called in for an interview.
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The virus that causes AIDS attacks the immune system of the body. Most of the time, it is spread through sexual contact, needles or syringes that drug addicts share, infected blood or blood products, or from pregnant women to their unborn children.
Blake used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. In 1977, he had surgery for oral cancer and then toured the country for the American Cancer Society.
Jerri Ewen, a spokeswoman for Mercy General, said that close friends of Blake asked her to say that cancer was the cause of death. “When someone dies, you have to do what the family wants. In this case, the friends were like family,” Ewen said.
Ewen said that she had never seen the certificate of death.
Under California law, death certificates are public records that are kept in the county where a person dies.
Ewen said that the hospital told the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the death.
In the TV show Gunsmoke, Blake played Miss Kitty, the queen of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City. She was in charge for 19 years. In the late 1800s, Gunsmoke took place in the lawless cattle town of Dodge City, Kansas. It was one of the first “adult westerns” to air on TV in the mid-1950s.
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Blake left ″Gunsmoke″ in 1974. After one more season on CBS, the show was taken off the air.
She only worked occasionally after ′′Gunsmoke,′′ usually as a guest star on TV game shows, movies of the week, and shows like ′′Edge of Night,′′ ′′Hart to Hart,′′ and ′′Love Boat.′′
Miss Blake, who lived in Sacramento, was an animal rights activist for a long time.