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August 27, 2014

'Gunsmoke' Star James Arness Dies at 88

by PopEater Staff, posted Jun 3rd 2011 3:05PM
James ArnessLegendary 'Gunsmoke' star James Arness, a bigger-than-life actor who kept the peace as Marshal Matt Dillon during the show's remarkable 20-year run, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Brentwood, Calif., his family told the Los Angeles Times. He was 88.

'Gunsmoke' debuted on CBS in 1955 and ran until 1975, in the process making Arness one of the more enduring stars on television and the Matt Dillon character one of its most beloved and trusted.

The 6' 7" Arness towered over the cast, including Dillon's deputy, Chester, played by Dennis Weaver. Other supporting stars included Amanda Blake as Kitty and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams.

By the time Arness got the part of Dillon, he had been a WWII combat veteran and appeared in several films, most notably the science-fiction classics 'Them!' and 'The Thing From Another World,' in which he played an alien.

The Minneapolis native's younger brother, actor Peter Graves, who died last October, encouraged him to get into acting.

Arness cut his Western teeth in four John Wayne films, including 'Hondo' and 'Big Jim McLain.'

It was Wayne who recommended Arness for 'Gunsmoke' and an on-air endorsement from the film great himself. "I knew there was only one man to play in it, James Arness," Wayne told viewers, according the Times. "He's a young fella and may be new to some of you. But I've worked with him, and I predict he'll be a big star. So you might as well get used to him, like you've had to get used to me."

The role of Marshal Dillon proved a complex one and became a focus of the show, but Arness is said to have pushed producers to move the focus off him and onto the large ensemble cast.

When 'Gunsmoke' ended in 1975, the actor appeared in a string of TV shows, including the miniseries 'How The West Was Won,' and in the early 1980s, turned leading man again in cop drama 'McClain's Law.'

He brought Matt Dillon back for five 'Gunsmoke' movies starting with 1987's 'Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge.'

Arness is survived by his wife, Janet, two sons and six grandchildren.

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Nelson

James Arness will be remembered for Many years for the Good Job he did in Gunsmoke.Rest in Peace one of the Best Western Actors of all time.

June 04 2011 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ted Johnson

His co-stars are all dead ! It was a great seriers, gave a little insight to the old days young people never know about.
John Wayne srikes again ! Thanks to both of them.

June 04 2011 at 9:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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June 04 2011 at 9:30 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
lishu Zheng

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June 04 2011 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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June 03 2011 at 10:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
sealandscapes

Condolences to his family. I grew up watching Gunsmoke, his portrayal of Matt Dillon was so strong and gentle, someone to look up to. thanks for the memories. Rest in Peace.

June 03 2011 at 10:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ruby

I still watch gunsmoke on tv land. he will be greatly missed. Does anyone know if his costars from gunsmoke are still alive.

June 03 2011 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lthrnck68

I'm glad to see that his roles in The Thing and Them were rememberedx. That's whereI remember him from as much as from his role in Gunsmoke.

June 03 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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