The towering actor, who passed away Friday, was best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on the small screen for 20 years.
James Arness, the 6' 7" actor best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on ‘Gunsmoke’ for 20 years has died. He was 88
Arness passed away of natural causes Friday June 3rd. His death comes a year after his brother, ‘Mission Impossible’ actor Peter Graves, died of a heart attack at age 83.
Arness was born on May 26, 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, starting out as a radio announcer in Minnesota in 1945.1
He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he landed his big break in 1947, starring opposite Loretta Young in the film "The Farmer’s Daughter".
During his career, Arness befriended John Wayne who was instrumental in helping him score the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in ‘Gunsmoke’. (CBS originally wanted Wayne for the part: he declined and suggested Arness.) During his 20 years on the show, he was nominated for three Emmys.
The show, one of the longest running dramatic series ever producer, was cancelled in 1975. Arness made four ‘Gunsmoke’ movies for TV.
From 1976 through 1979 he starred in the television miniseries ‘How the West Was Won". His last TV series, the police drama ‘Big Jim McLain’, aired in the early 1980s.
He is survived by his wife Janet, three sons and three grandchildren.
ARNESS, James (James King Aurness)
Born: May 26, 1923, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Died: June 3, 2011 Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
James Arness' westerns - actor:
Wagon Master - 1950 (Floyd Craig)
The Lone Ranger (TV) - 1950 (Deputy Bud Titus)
Stars in My Crown - 1950 (Rolfe Isbell)
Sierra - 1950 (Little Sam)
Wyoming Mail - 1950 (Russell)
Belle Le Grand - 1951 (mine guard)
Cavalry Scout - 1951 (Barth)
Hellgate - 1952 (George Redfield)
Horizons West - 1952 (Tiny McGilligan)
The Lone Hand - 1953 (Gus Varden)
Hondo - 1953 (Lennie)
Many Rivers to Cross - 1955 (Esau Hamilton)
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1955-1975 (Marshal Mat Dillon)
The First Traveling Saleslady - 1956 (Joel Kingdom)
Gun the Man Down - 1956 (Rem Anderson)
Alias Jess James - 1959 (Marshal Matt Dillon)
The Macahans (TV) - 1976 (Zeb Macahan)
How the West Was Won (TV) - 1977-1979 (Zebulan Macahan)
The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory (TV) - 1987 (Jim Bowie)
Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge (TV) - 1987 (Matt Dillon)
Red River - (TV) - 1988 (Thomas Dunson)
Gunsmoke: The Last Apache (TV) 1990 (Matt Dillon)
Gunsmoke: To Last Man (TV) 1992 (Matt Dillon)
Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (TV) - 1993 (Matt Dillon)
Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice (TV) - 1994 (Matt Dillon)