He directed twenty-seven Gunsmoke episodes between 1966 and 1971 and guest starred in eight segments between 1967 and 1973. He also directed eight episodes of National Broadcasting Company"s Walt Disney"s Wonderful World of Color between 1969 and 1975. Totten"s first directing occurred with the 1962 episode "Advance and Be Recognized" of American Broadcasting Company"s World World War II series The Gallant Men.
He then directed the 1963 war picture The Quick and the Dead.
That same year, he directed four episodes of National Broadcasting Company"s Temple Houston, starring Jeffrey Hunter in the role of the youngest son, Temple Lea Houston, of the Texan Sam Houston. Another Gunsmoke director, Irving J. Moore directed three episodes of Temple Houston.
Totten directed four segments of American Broadcasting Company"s The Legend of Jesse James (1965–1966), starring Christopher Jones in the title role of Jesse James. In 1971, he directed two episodes of the short-lived Columbia Broadcasting System series Bearcats!, starring Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole.
In 1973, he directed two episodes of David Carradine"s American Broadcasting Company series Kung Fu.
His last directing work was in 1990 in a segment of "The Manitoba Behind the Badge" of American Broadcasting Company"s The Young Riders, loosely based on the Pony Express. As an actor, Totten first appeared uncredited on screen as a young miner in the 1958 film The Badlanders. In 1961, he had the uncredited role of Joe in the film Susan Slade, starring Troy Donahue and Connie Stevens.
He appeared later on television in an episode of the short-lived 1974 Columbia Broadcasting System series, Dirty Sally, the only Gunsmoke spin-off, with Jeanette Nolan, and in the 1980s on Simon & Simon and Airwolf.
He had a small role in the 1979 Disney film The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. Totten wrote the 1968 Gunsmoke episode "Nowhere to Run" and the 1973 television movie The Red Pony, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O"Hara.
In the February 15, 1971 Gunsmoke episode entitled "Cleavus", Totten plays the title guest-starring role, a red-bearded man who finds a gold mine after he accidentally kills the owner. He grabs $200 worth of gold dust from the mine owner"s pocket.
In Dodge City, Kansas, Cleavus learns that the owner"s claim was not yet registered.
He seeks the title for himself. and tries to act like a gentleman, buys nice clothing and even seeks to court Mission Kitty Russell. While rescuing Festus from a fall in the mine, Cleavus accidentally shoots himself to death. The episode was directed by Vincent McEveety.
Totten was born in Los Angeles, California.
He died of a heart attack shortly before his 58th birthday in Sherman Oaks, California. A daughter, Heather Totten (born 1959), acted on television in the 1970s, including a role in The Red Pony.
At the time of his death, Totten was preparing to direct the syndicated television series based on Larry McMurtry"s Lonesome Dove.