It takes a special kind of lawman to carry on for 20 years in the Wild West of TV.
Matt Dillon, the mythical marshal of Dodge City, stood tall — all 6 feet, 6 inches of him — on "Gunsmoke" from 1955 to 1975. He outlasted dozens of other Western heroes while making history on TV's longest-running dramatic series, a record that held until NBC's "Law & Order" tied the CBS Western's record in 2010.
Through all those gunslinging years, James Arness, who died Friday, kept Marshal Dillon righteous, peace-seeking and, most of all, believable.
By the end of his career, Arness, who was 88 when he died at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, seemed almost indistinguishable from Matt Dillon in the audience's mind.
Befitting Marshal Dillon's dignity and composure, Arness wrote, and left behind, a simple, straight-from-the-heart farewell which, at his request, was posted posthumously Friday on his official website.
"I had a wonderful life and was blessed with ... (so) many loving people and great friends," he said, then went on to thank his multitude of fans.
Last edited by Mike Matson; Jun. 4, 2011 at 05:15 PM.
"No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier
"Gunsmoke" was always a favorite program when I was growing up. "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," and a few other oaters were the primary fare on the four channels we got on our TV (we actually had to get up and go change the channel by hand).
Mr. Arness made TV history for all of us, including a lot of riding, while suffering permanent chronic pain issues from injuries in WWII at Anzio. He was a hero both on and off screen.
Quote from a website:
After Gunsmoke, Arness starred on a few short-lived TV series, How the West Was Won and the cop show McClain's Law. At six feet, seven inches tall, James Arness is believed to be the tallest actor ever to star in a television series. In Gunsmoke's medium-close shots, the other actors were usually standing on elevated platforms, so their faces could be in the camera frame.
Rest in peace, Mr. Arness, and ride a good horse.
"I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
On "I've Got a Secret" years ago there was a man on it that fooled everyone on the panel-he was the other actor in the shoot out at the beginning of the show. And I don't think Mr Arness' brother Peter Graves (star of Fury) died too long ago.
James Arness was a true gentleman, and a man who knew the meaning of honesty and friendship. There was never a bad word said about him, and he was always good to the other actors and crew from what I read. In fact I've read that his big break was because John Wayne turned down the role of Marshal Dillon, and suggested James Arness instead. Rest in Peace.
Did anyone else see the last web posting that Mr. Arness left behind for his fans? It was wonderful.