Saturday, June 4, 2011

R.I.P. James Arness.

Television legend James Arness, passed away on Friday, June 03, at the age of 88.
Arness starred as Marshall Matt Dillon, on the TV western series GUNSMOKE for 20 years (!), from 1955 thru 1975. At a height of 6’7”, Arness towered over both his co-stars and Dodge City, Kansas, which was his TV home.

James Arness may not have been the best of all actors – or even all television actors – but he was perfect at what he did. …And that’s why he will always be remembered!

Indeed, to me, James Arness was "The John Wayne of Television"! 

And, for an unusual Arness story, click HERE!


Anonymous said...

In fact, it was John Wayne who recommended James Arness for the part of Matt Dillon. Wayne even appeared in a short introduction for the first TV episode. The episode, complete with the intro, may still be available on Youtube.

Arness had trouble getting parts early in his career; a lot of leading men didn't like having him around, because he was taller than they were. John Wayne and John Ford both liked him, though, and cast him in several westerns. Wayne was 6'3" or 6'4" and didn't mind having other tall men on the set.

The US Marshals Service made Arness an honorary federal marshal. Then, when Gunsmoke ended in 1975, they sent him a badge of the type issued to US marshals when they retire.


Joe Torcivia said...


John Wayne’s intro to the premiere episode of GUNSMOKE is also found (appropriately, fronting that episode) on the DVD set GUNSMOKE The First Season… back before CBS / Paramount began breaking up the seasons of GUNSMOKE into “Volume One” and “Volume Two”.

It was even on the first volume of the commercially available VHS tape series of GUNSMOKE. That’s where I first saw it.

It was a nice “hand-off” by Wayne to his former regular co-starring player.

…And, that’s a really nice story about the US Marshals Service!