Jun 3, 2011

RIP, Marshall Dillon

james-arness James Arness, a mainstay on television for 25 years has dies at age 88. Arness starred on CBS’ Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1975, following that up with How the West Was Won from ‘78-79. Adapted from a radio show, the role of Marshall Matt Dillon was originally offered to John Wayne, who declined, but suggested producers hire his friend Arness. Wayne apparently didn’t want the 6’7” Arness towering over him in the movies.

Arness served in WWII, was wounded at Anzio and won the Purple Heart.  After the war, he went to Hollywood and began appearing in films. In 1951, he used histhing_james_arness height to advantage as The Thing. Talent ran in the family; his brother was Peter Graves of Mission: Impossible and Airplane fame.

In his twenty years in Dodge City, Arness worked with hundreds of actors, many just getting their start. Edward Asner, Beau Bridges, Harrison Ford, Charles Bronson, Gary Busey, Richard Dreyfuss, and many more. Arness held the record for playing a single character on television until it was broken by Kelsey Grammer.

James Arness’ official web site has posted a letter of thanks to his fans that he requested be posted posthumously.

RIP, James Arness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011

More to Come.

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